Women of the nineteenth century led very hard lives. If they were well off and married they were considered property, and if they were poor they were condemned to work long hours for barely any pay for most of their lives just so that they or their family could survive. In Letitia Elizabeth Landon’s “The Marriage Vow” she talks about the difficult circumstances brought on by the era. It demonstrates how a woman often had freedom taken away from her after marriage, and often did not marry for love. In Letitia Elizabeth Landon’s ” the Factory”, and in Fanny
Fern’s “The Working-Girls of New York” the horrible conditions brought on by factories not only to women but the rest of the world are described in first person experience. Women in the nineteenth century were undervalued regardless of their circumstance. The poor women were forced to work very hard for anything that they earned. The factories that came in the nineteenth century did not make life easier for women or the rest of the people. Factories brought progress and opportunity but still held women in the same place Women in the nineteenth century were still not completely valued as people.
When a woman married she was her husband’s property, and then answered to him. In Letitia Elizabeth Landon’s ” The Marriage Vow” she wrote about how once a woman married all her hope and dreams faded, and she no longer had any freedom. Another thing I believe she was talking about in the piece was that a woman could marry one but love another. Women often married because they had to be able to take care of themselves, and they were unable to because they were minimal jobs available to women. After a woman married she was considered property and could then no longer have freedom. This seems to fit with the time period that Landon was in.
Women were not allowed to make decisions for themselves, especially after they married. In “The Marriage Vow she wrote ” The altar, ’tis of death! For there are laid The sacrifice of all youth’s sweetest hopes” (Landon 520). This is the part of the poem where she describes marriage as the end of a woman’s hopes, and freedom. Shortly after this she wrote “to swear the heart away; yet know that heart. Annuls the vow while speaking… ” (Landon 520). This is the part that talks about dreading the future, because a woman could be in love with nother person, or just not in love at all.
After reading this piece it can be seen that Women in the nineteenth century were still undervalued as people, and instead treated as property. They often dreaded marriage, because as soon as they said their vows they would become property. This is why many women, especially in the lower class opted not to marry, and to work instead. The lower class women of the nineteenth century were given more freedom than the upper class. In Fanny Fern’s “The Working-Girls of New York” a vivid portrayal of working women in the nineteenth century is made.
This piece talks about women who come to work to support their families, or so that they can have freedom. These women wake up and work in horrible factory conditions all day, and then either send their money home to parents or children or they keep it for themselves so that they are still able to have freedom. The work their fingers to the bone all day for money that was less than what a man would earn. They work to produce goods in these factories that they work in and get paid very little while their mistress or boss gets half of the money earned from the goods that they made.
If they collectively made two-hundred dollars, the Madame gets half of it. And then distributes the rest after the expenses of the business to the women that are employed. In Fern’s work she wrote ” but chiefly, and mainly, because when six o’clock in the evening comes they are their own mistresses” (Fern 596). Shortly after she also wrote this: ” this same modiste employed twenty-five girls at the starvation price of three dollars and a half a week” (Fern 597). This two quotes from “The Working-Girls of New York” demonstrate how hard the working girls worked, and how little they earned.
For them it was worth it because in the end they each had a little bit of freedom once the work day was done. The working girls in the nineteenth century had a little bit more freedom due to the demand of workers, but they were still undervalued and paid less than men. Factories like the ones these “working-girls” worked in were very beneficial to the economy during this time because more goods were able to be produced, but often factories put out pollutants into the air that hurt those living in the area surrounding the factories.
Although the factories that ere brought on by the industrial revolution were helpful in the way that they provided more jobs, they also had a very harmful impact on the environment, and the people living around the factories that breathed in the pollution put out by the factory every day. In Letitia Elizabeth Fuller’s “The Factory” she talks about how the smoke comes out of the factory and overpowers everything. She then talks about the thousands of people living around the factory dying because of the pollution and poor living conditions that come with the factories.
In her poem she peaks of a child waiting to grow up so bright and full of life who slowly dies because of the pollution and sickness in the slums around the factory. This represents all of the children and people dying because of the factories. The child in this poem is a symbol representing innocence and good. Once the factories came, the innocence, pureness and good were snuffed out. So was the potential that the children had who died because of the factories. The factories took all the potential and creativity away from the people near them and set them up for short, miserable, underpaid lives.
Even if the child had lived he would grow up to be another factory worker, and continue the cycle. Either way it’s a tragedy, and people are dying all around the factories. In the poem she wrote ” the smoke that rises on the air.. the smoke shuts out the cheerful day the sunset’s purple hues… ” (Landon 518). And later on she also wrote ” look on yon child, it droops the head. Its knees are bow’d with pain; It mutters from its wretched bed, ‘O, let me sleep again” (Landon 519). These quotes from Landon’s poem “The Factory” demonstrate the harsh living conditions that caused illness and ften death around the factories.
Many children died because they had weaker immune systems and would go out and play with other children who were potentially sick. The conditions in factories were horrible and brought illness especially for children. The conditions in factories and brought on by factories were horrible and barely livable for the working people of this time. During the nineteenth century society was changing at a much slower pace than the technology brought into it. Women were still considered property, but scientists and engineers had enough information to figure out how to make machines for actories.
Unfortunately, they did not know enough to keep these factories safe for the people working in and living around them. The authors Letitia Elizabeth Landon, and Fanny Fern helped paint an accurate picture for the working class of this era. Women were slowly able to have more access to jobs in places like factories, but they were paid so little in conditions not suitable for anyone. Although society had progressed with technology going into the nineteenth century, society lagged behind seeing women as full fledged citizens and women were still underappreciated.