Barbara Welter's The Cult Of True Womanhood

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The lives of women in the antebellum society of late nineteenth century America were characterized by oppression and shaded by an aura of death. According to Barbara Welter in her essay “The Cult of True Womanhood,” the way in which a woman “judged herself and was judged by her husband, her neighbors, and society, could be divided into four cardinal virtues—piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity.” Defiance of these virtues would result in societal ostracization, being deemed “unsexed.” Amidst this, women were forced to face death regularly. Through the Civil War, the death toll amounted to nearly 270,000 men: the husbands, brothers, and sons of Victorian women. However, the death did not stop after brothers fired their final shots. Due to the pre-modern medicine of the era, the life expectancy of 1850 for an American adult was just 39 years. (Bryant 569) Women of the antebellum era lived lives respected by neither death, nor their society.…show more content…
Born in 1850 and raised by her mother, her grandmother, and her great-grandmother, all of who were widows, Chopin understood the roles of a woman as a wife and a widow and knew much about death. Her growth in knowledge of these areas continued into adulthood as she married, bore six children, and had to then face the death of her husband. (Seyersted) Through her experience as a wife, mother, and widow, Chopin had a deep understanding of these roles in antebellum society and often exhibited them in her writing. Through the short fiction The Story of an Hour, Kate Chopin unveils the institution of marriage during the patriarchal Victorian Era as a ploy to ensnare women, forcing them to surrender their identity, ethereal self, and life, physical desires, to the will of another, even after the man’s

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