The Ideal of True Womanhood in the Short Fiction of Mary Wilkins Freeman, Kate Chopin, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman
MetadataShow full item record
In the nineteenth century, True Womanhood was an ideal towards which white middle-class American women aspired. This ideal demanded of women piety, purity, submissiveness to men, and domesticity. These restrictive principles of women's conduct had changed at the close of the century. However, the ideas of Victorian America still had an impact on the way couples behaved in the beginning of the twentieth century. In this thesis, the short stories of three women writers - Mary Wilkins Freeman, Kate Chopin and Charlotte Perkins Gilman -- were examined. The author focused on the characterization of the female protagonists and determined whether they lived according to the principles of True Womanhood. The viewpoints of the stories' authors as reflected in the texts were analyzed, and their attitudes towards the ideal of True Womanhood were inferred. The author came to a conclusion about the degree to which the ideal of True Womanhood was still valid around the tum of the century according to the three women writers. This thesis will help English instructors teach American women's literature written around the tum to the twentieth century. It will enable them to lead interesting discussions with their students about women's role as presented in the stories. Furthermore, the stories will help students to think about women's role in American society today.