Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A Map of Woman’s Heart (mid-1800s)

LOL at how the two large lobes of the heart are filled with superficiality, with the "Country of Eligibleness" populated by the most grievous displays, including the "Province of Deception" and even a "Jilting Corner." How bitter (and probably single) was the dude who made this?

This idealized version of womanhood appeared everywhere: in advice manuals, fiction, newspapers, magazines and in American prints. Just as American prints employed a narrowly defined standard of beauty, images that showed exemplars of True Womanhood also imagined a limited sphere of activity for women.

The attributes of True Womanhood, by which a woman judged herself and was judged by her husband, her neighbors, and her society, could be divided into four cardinal virtues—piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity. … Without them … all was ashes. With them she was promised happiness and power."

Take the meager ambitions set forth for Victorian women (marriage), what constituted success (not marrying poorly), and the consequences of not marrying (or marrying poorly), and pair it with the truth of what one often received in return for following the aforementioned virtues of True Womanhood, and I can see how reality may have necessitated the Country of Eligibleness.

Anyway, at the risk of lending credibility to the "Promontory of Golden Fetters," I will say those Victorians sure made some beautiful propaganda.

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