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Subject Governess:Ideology
Posted by Grace Wen
Posted on Sat Jun 10 11:04:02 2000
From IP h243.s139.ts30.hinet.net  

The Governess was a familiar figure to mid-century middle-class Victorians, just as she is now to readers of Victorian novels. However, why was the women・s occupation in that time the :governess・ rather than other kinds of occupation? I think. It is a kind of ideology. Of the occupations, the governess・s work was widely considered the most genteel, because the governess・s work was so similar to that of the female norm, the middle-class mother. Therefore, if the women in that time had to find a work, what they found only to be a governess.
Also, in 1800s, the governess was regarded as the necessary property for the high class and even for the middle class. Reading the pride and Prejudice, the readers find that one of the reason Lady Catherine looks down the Bennet family is that they educate their children by themselves and they have no governess. By the way, being a governess was made as a proud occupation for the women in Victorian period. Jane Eyre also gave the governesses a hope that some day, they would meet a good man like Rochester. In this way, being a governess became the only one choice for the women who need to work outside the home.
Nowadays, I think the influence of the governess still exist in our society. According to the poll, the most popular and desirable occupation for the women is to be a teacher. Even, the occupation that men hope their lovers or wives to have is also to be a teacher. They say as a teacher, a woman can take care of her family, especially her children at the same time. Is it ironical that most of the men are not willingly to be teachers but hey want their wives to be teachers? Therefore, the responsibility of caring the children is upon the women even they have works to do!?
In the nineteenth century, women were encouraged to be governesses. Nowadays women are encouraged to be teachers. It seems that women cannot get rid of taking care of a family forever. But is it only the women・s responsibility?


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