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Household Roles of Men and Women

Discusses 19th century household roles of men and women through a primary source. “A Husband’s Letter to His Wife” is the primary source, the essay summarizes and analyzes the story and how it relates to gender roles.

The role of the wife in the household during the 19th century directly coincides with the vividly expressed home in “A Husband’s Letter to His Wife”. The wife referred to in the letter left her husband because of the rigorous schedule and authoritative demands required by her husband. The husband feels betrayed by his wife and deems that her marital obligation includes completely obedience to him. Society at this juncture in history necessitates a male-dominated household and any rebellion or “stubbornness to submit” by the wife completely offends the entire family (Marcus 916).

Society in the 1800s established a family unit where “every wife is obligated to her husband-to follow [husband's] wishes in everything and to strictly obey [husband's] orders” (Marcus 916). The husband in the letter feels outraged about his wife’s disobedience. At the time, a wife’s marital obligations forbade the wife to act independently. In order to prevent future insubordination by his wife, the husband created a strict daily schedule to serve as a code of conduct for his wife. Although the husband’s stance may feel harsh, the husband believes that in performing his marital duty he must exert decisiveness and complete control over his family. Even though complete submission by wives to their husbands feels outdated, modern culture still continually accepts that the male-dominated home leads to a happy and successful family.

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