Good Wives Ingilizce Kitap Ozeti




GENEL BİLGİ
Good Wives is a study of the role of women in Northern New England from 1650-1750. Ulrich divides her text into three parts, each named after a biblical female who exhibited particular idealized feminine traits that are elevated within New England society. Ulrich traces both the abstract roles that women were expected to align with, as well the realities of daily life, which demonstrate the complicated way in which numerous roles intertwined and created or limited possibilities for women in Colonial New England.







In  Part One
, “Bathsheba,” Ulrich outlines the possibilities for women as virtuous housewives. New Englanders commemorated Bathsheba as a “godly woman whose industrious labors gave mythical significance to the ordinary tasks assigned to her sex” (14). As housewives, New England women were responsible for manufacturing, agriculture and trade, though the balance of these duties was dependent upon geography and circumstance. In order to illustrate this, Ulrich describes three particular cases: one on a farm, the second on a coastal town and the third on the frontier (18-33). In all three, female work was essential to survival (33) and versatile (34).

As  deputy husbands, women were inferior to their husbands, but her opinion would be incorporated into his decisions and she could stand in his place if he was unable to (36). Ulrich emphasizes that the role of “deputy husband cannot be studied in terms of “independence,” which would be “not only an anachronism but a contradiction in logic” (37). The importance of the home as the center of economic transactions and communications also blurred distinctions between male and female “work” and there was an elasticity in the premodern notion of gender (50).

As  friendly neighbors, women interacted both horizontally and vertically within stratified social groups: mistresses in big houses, wives of small landowners or craftsmen and wives in rented houses in semi-dependence. The rules of Charity, Modesty and Industry guided interactions within this neighborly network (58-67).

Finally, Ulrich notes that the seemingly incompatible roles of “good housewife” and “pretty gentlewoman” were actually compatible in real life and pretty gentlewomen performed the tasks required of housewives. Still, the existence of the categories, points to “crucial psychological issues,” including a Puritan emphasis on humility resulting in an aversion to pride and vanity (81-2).



Part Two
is dedicated to Eve and it encompasses the roles of woman as consort and mother, including the complexities of sexual life in New England (both in and out of wedlock) and the “travail” of childbirth. The legacy of Eve in New England awarded women spiritual equality with men (Eve was created from Adam’s side, which represented equality), though this egalitarian spiritual ideal was not intended to be confused with civil equality. Within a marriage, the Christian ideal could transcend the civil law, which called only for “obedience” of the wife, and wives were also consorts. The relationship between husband and wife was compared to that between the Church and Christ (108). In case of conflict, individual reformation and self-control were expected (109) and “oneness” was regarded as the perfect union.

 

Travail characterized the childbearing experience, which was governed exclusively by women until the later 18th century. While men were reduced to the role of supporting actors, the child-bearing experience was viewed in religious terms and travail was an emblem of Eve’s suffering (130). Starting in the mid-19th century, Ulrich notes the decline of midwives due to the rise of obstetrical science (and the invention of forceps) and as a consequence of the “increased privatization of the family” (134). “Experienced” midwives were gradually replaced by “learned” physicians.

As  mothers, women in the colonial period “represented the affectionate mode in an essentially authoritarian system of child-rearing” (153). In contrast to the 19th century ideal of Victorian motherhood, the Colonial New England mother was expected to spread affection on many children (159) and the motherhood was closely tied to fertility, which was a “chief monument.”

 

In  Part Three, Ulrich describes the feminine virtues associated with  Jael, the biblical woman who lured an enemy man into her tent and murdered him in his sleep with a wooden stake. The story plays with the contrasting roles of woman as nurturer and killer (168) and was invoked by Cotton Mather in his praise of Hannah Dutton, the New England woman who, days after giving birth, was captured by Indians. She later escaped by killing her captors and returning home with their scalps. Unlike 19th century readers, who would be repulsed by Hannah’s aggression and opportunism, 17th century New Englanders praised Hannah as a heroine. 19th century readers, Ulrich notes, had idealized femininity as being incompatible with aggression.

In her chapter on Viragoes, Ulrich describes different types of violence that occurred in New England, some of which were acceptable. While Hannah’s murders were praised, her sister Elizabeth had been executed for infanticide ten years earlier, in what was considered to be an unexcusable act of violence toward her twin children. Hannah was a “self-reliant virago” who survived capture while her sister committed crimes against motherhood and the social network by giving birth by herself.

As  Captives, women tended to stay with their captors at a higher rate than men. The likelihood of return was based on their age. While married women virtually never stayed with their captors (apart from anomalous cases), women under 21 were much more likely to stay. This was due to the possibility of marriage and religion. If a New England woman married, she could assume the identity of her husband and be accepted into a new society with relative ease (208). The proselytizing work of Catholic priests and comforting female social networks could result in conversion.

Ulrich ends her study of female roles with a chapter on women as church members. As church members, women (1) promoted the establishment of religion by using private power, especially in outlying areas, (2) protected the ministerial reputation by using village and family networks to run a minister out of town if he did not live up to expectations and (3) acted as intermediaries between the invisible and visible world through ecstatic or hysteric utterances (217-226). Still, their power was dependant on the “men who voted the taxes, called the ministers, and interpreted the visions.” (226). Still, their persistent role as the congregation majority in 17th and 18th century churches represents a critical aspect of female life in colonial New England.

Overall, Ulrich depicts women’s roles in New England as being both defined by a complex and interactive set of ideals (those of Bathsheba, Eve and Jael) and elastic and she reminds readers that 19th century feminine ideals of passivity and meekness were distinctly foreign to 17th and early 18th century New England society. Her anecdotes and role analysis is superb and fascinating, making  Good Wives an excellent read.Good Wives is a study of the role of women in Northern New England from 1650-1750. Ulrich divides her text into three parts, each named after a biblical female who exhibited particular idealized feminine traits that are elevated within New England society. Ulrich traces both the abstract roles that women were expected to align with, as well the realities of daily life, which demonstrate the complicated way in which numerous roles intertwined and created or limited possibilities for women in Colonial New England.

In  Part One, “Bathsheba,” Ulrich outlines the possibilities for women as virtuous housewives. New Englanders commemorated Bathsheba as a “godly woman whose industrious labors gave mythical significance to the ordinary tasks assigned to her sex” (14). As housewives, New England women were responsible for manufacturing, agriculture and trade, though the balance of these duties was dependent upon geography and circumstance. In order to illustrate this, Ulrich describes three particular cases: one on a farm, the second on a coastal town and the third on the frontier (18-33). In all three, female work was essential to survival (33) and versatile (34).

As  deputy husbands, women were inferior to their husbands, but her opinion would be incorporated into his decisions and she could stand in his place if he was unable to (36). Ulrich emphasizes that the role of “deputy husband cannot be studied in terms of “independence,” which would be “not only an anachronism but a contradiction in logic” (37). The importance of the home as the center of economic transactions and communications also blurred distinctions between male and female “work” and there was an elasticity in the premodern notion of gender (50).

As  friendly neighbors, women interacted both horizontally and vertically within stratified social groups: mistresses in big houses, wives of small landowners or craftsmen and wives in rented houses in semi-dependence. The rules of Charity, Modesty and Industry guided interactions within this neighborly network (58-67).

Finally, Ulrich notes that the seemingly incompatible roles of “good housewife” and “pretty gentlewoman” were actually compatible in real life and pretty gentlewomen performed the tasks required of housewives. Still, the existence of the categories, points to “crucial psychological issues,” including a Puritan emphasis on humility resulting in an aversion to pride and vanity (81-2).

Part Two is dedicated to Eve and it encompasses the roles of woman as consort and mother, including the complexities of sexual life in New England (both in and out of wedlock) and the “travail” of childbirth. The legacy of Eve in New England awarded women spiritual equality with men (Eve was created from Adam’s side, which represented equality), though this egalitarian spiritual ideal was not intended to be confused with civil equality. Within a marriage, the Christian ideal could transcend the civil law, which called only for “obedience” of the wife, and wives were also consorts. The relationship between husband and wife was compared to that between the Church and Christ (108). In case of conflict, individual reformation and self-control were expected (109) and “oneness” was regarded as the perfect union.

 

Travail characterized the childbearing experience, which was governed exclusively by women until the later 18th century. While men were reduced to the role of supporting actors, the child-bearing experience was viewed in religious terms and travail was an emblem of Eve’s suffering (130). Starting in the mid-19th century, Ulrich notes the decline of midwives due to the rise of obstetrical science (and the invention of forceps) and as a consequence of the “increased privatization of the family” (134). “Experienced” midwives were gradually replaced by “learned” physicians.

As  mothers, women in the colonial period “represented the affectionate mode in an essentially authoritarian system of child-rearing” (153). In contrast to the 19th century ideal of Victorian motherhood, the Colonial New England mother was expected to spread affection on many children (159) and the motherhood was closely tied to fertility, which was a “chief monument.”

In  Part Three, Ulrich describes the feminine virtues associated with  Jael, the biblical woman who lured an enemy man into her tent and murdered him in his sleep with a wooden stake. The story plays with the contrasting roles of woman as nurturer and killer (168) and was invoked by Cotton Mather in his praise of Hannah Dutton, the New England woman who, days after giving birth, was captured by Indians. She later escaped by killing her captors and returning home with their scalps. Unlike 19th century readers, who would be repulsed by Hannah’s aggression and opportunism, 17th century New Englanders praised Hannah as a heroine. 19th century readers, Ulrich notes, had idealized femininity as being incompatible with aggression.

 

In her chapter on Viragoes, Ulrich describes different types of violence that occurred in New England, some of which were acceptable. While Hannah’s murders were praised, her sister Elizabeth had been executed for infanticide ten years earlier, in what was considered to be an unexcusable act of violence toward her twin children. Hannah was a “self-reliant virago” who survived capture while her sister committed crimes against motherhood and the social network by giving birth by herself.

As  Captives, women tended to stay with their captors at a higher rate than men. The likelihood of return was based on their age. While married women virtually never stayed with their captors (apart from anomalous cases), women under 21 were much more likely to stay. This was due to the possibility of marriage and religion. If a New England woman married, she could assume the identity of her husband and be accepted into a new society with relative ease (208). The proselytizing work of Catholic priests and comforting female social networks could result in conversion.

Ulrich ends her study of female roles with a chapter on women as church members. As church members, women (1) promoted the establishment of religion by using private power, especially in outlying areas, (2) protected the ministerial reputation by using village and family networks to run a minister out of town if he did not live up to expectations and (3) acted as intermediaries between the invisible and visible world through ecstatic or hysteric utterances (217-226). Still, their power was dependant on the “men who voted the taxes, called the ministers, and interpreted the visions.” (226). Still, their persistent role as the congregation majority in 17th and 18th century churches represents a critical aspect of female life in colonial New England.

Overall, Ulrich depicts women’s roles in New England as being both defined by a complex and interactive set of ideals (those of Bathsheba, Eve and Jael) and elastic and she reminds readers that 19th century feminine ideals of passivity and meekness were distinctly foreign to 17th and early 18th century New England society. Her anecdotes and role analysis is superb and fascinating, making  Good Wives an excellent read.






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