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Victorian Literature - Gender and Social Limitations

             Getting an education and a job was a dream or having a family was the best thing possible; imagine knowing that one of these things is not attainable because of gender. What sex someone is cannot be controlled or decided before birth, yet in the Victorian time period, a person's life was altered based on their reproductive organs. Not only were unrealistic goals forced on people due to their gender but also because of the social class they were born into. These uncontrollable factors were in the Victorian time period inhibited people from reaching their full potential. The books Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and David Copperfield by Charles Dickens were written in the Victorian era where gender and social limitations were forced upon the protagonists by society; both books use very simple characters to define and defy these limitations set before them, which ultimately created classics.
             To identify how gender impacted Eyre and Copperfield, gender roles must be identified. Men were the most important gender and, therefore, had to meet high demands and prideful obligations. Most parents sought to have a boy because he could carry on the family name, the family wealth, and provide for the parents in their old age. To give them an education, a boy was most typically sent to an all-boys boarding school in a well-populated city. There was a constant pressure to be the best. Males had to woo females but also prove their dominance in a male driven society (Appell). Men had to provide for the helpless females, males were chivalrous and took great pride in being the head and protector of the household. Along with society expectations there were sexual beliefs that men had. Males enthusiastically opposed prostitution even though most secretly participated in it. In the church men were considered fallen because of sexual desires that consumed them (Appell). Men were considered to be the opposite of everything a woman could be.

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