Summary Of Ulrich's Essay 'Good Wives'

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In “Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England,” Ulrich writes about the status of women in 17th and 18th century New England. This is a secondary source and was written to anyone interested in history (as she is an historian) and to men and women alike. The article begins with a father telling his daughter that her mother has died. He tells her that she should try and emulate her mother’s characteristics and abilities, because that is the way that she could be honored after death. That daughter’s children were also passed down the same advice. Furthermore, the author mentions that American women were married at a younger age than their English counterparts. She argues that this caused unwavering obedience on the part of the wife as…show more content…
A woman who lost her husband became a widow (also called a relict) and sometimes had the option to receive income on a third of the property value. She never could have full control over the estate however, as once her sons reached a certain age, the property belonged to them. Ulrich believes that a mother’s death did not have a significant impact as much as”…the death of the father did.” Things weren’t all bad for women during that time, however. There were different types of wives that the society had and each featured the wife playing a different role. If a wife was a Deputy Husband, she would have the opportunity to be a “surrogate” for her husband if he was not able to. The married woman had many more opportunities to run the household in this model. The housewife was limited to doing cooking, cleaning, and gardening. Outside of her family, she had no authority. Consorts, mothers, and mistresses were also examples of types of roles for women. Although women made up the majority of churchgoers, they were forbidden to hold office or preach to a group of men and

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