Religion played an of import function in Victorian patriarchal society. The spiritual sphere in nineteenth-century England gave patriarchal hegemony a Godhead backup, thereby turn outing its prevalence. Most adult females were frequently denied chance for spiritual look, which the patriarchal society considered the adult male ‘s sole terrain. As Ruth Jenkins provinces, “ the formation of institutional Christianity badly restricted, even denied, ( adult females ) a voice in the duologues that shaped theological philosophies ” ( 16 ) . Still, there were some instances in which adult females had a voice in the spiritual establishment. These adult females were able to interrupt the male domination in spiritual affairs and therefore take part in “ the trial of inalterable rules of ground and faith ” ( Harman 20 ) .
The Victorian-era literature exhibited a review of the spiritual establishment which contributed to female subjugation. Writers like Thomas Hardy, Elizabeth Gaskell and Charlotte Mary Yonge were among those who reflected on the hegemony exhibited by this state of affairs. Their plants show adult females who were oppressed by the spiritual instructions and attempted to arise against it. Female characters employed by Hardy, Gaskell and Yonge besides show how adult females suffered from spiritual conventionality and dual criterions. Some of these characters made efforts to dispute the male domination and usage faith as an chance to dispute the male dominated system with different degrees of success.
In Jude the Obscure, Hardy promulgates a sweeping rejection of the spiritual patriarchal restraints that restrict adult females ‘s freedom. He launches a searching onslaught on the Victorian spiritual conventionality that goes against adult females ‘s hunt for freedom, independency, and felicity. Hardy ‘s positions on faith are articulated through Sue. She is portrayed as a adult female who aspires to interrupt away from traditional spiritual dictates. She hence boldly inquiries the basic orthodox spiritual rules sing morality and matrimony.
From the beginning, Sue is described as “ a adult female clipped and pruned by terrible subject ” ( Hardy, Jude 136 ) . Sue exhibits a rejection of this rigorous subject. Her attitude and behavior culls all conventional Victorian morality and moralss. She emerges as a adult female who weighs affairs by ground, thereby rendering irrelevant the thought that adult females are governed by their emotions. In her dissenting conversations, Sue besides inquiries rigid spiritual and other societal thoughts sing matrimony and morality.
Sue does non maintain her broad political orientation in a theoretical frame and goes in front to let her behaviour to confirm her spiritual stance. She rejects all signifiers of spiritual supplication as a manifestation of lip service. Her renunciation of the spiritual establishment is best represented in her negative position of Christminster, depicting it as characterized by “ timid servility to tradition ” ( Hardy, Jude 329 ) . Most significantly, the fact that she leaves her lawful hubby to populate with person to whom she is non married is a blunt rejection of spiritual dictates of her clip.
Sue shows her utmost neglect for the parturiencies of matrimony as sanctioned by faith. For her, such an establishment, with its spiritual foundations, is the antithesis of freedom. She lambasts the utmost conventionality of society which relegates matrimony into a mere duty that has to be fulfilled. She views matrimony as a “ coarse establishment ” that issues a ‘sordid contract ” in which the adult female ‘s fondness should be given to the adult male “ appointed by the bishop ‘s licence to have it ” ( Hardy, Jude 256 ) . Sue chiefly criticizes the obligatory nature of matrimony as she can non accept the position of matrimony as an establishment where one “ must and shall be a individual ‘s lover ” ( Hardy, Jude 267 ) .
Like most adult females in nineteenth-century society and literature, Sue is trapped in the struggle between fulfilling her emancipatory urge and conforming to societal norms based on spiritual tenet. She finally chooses the latter. Still, Sue ‘s return to Phillotson is non a manifestation of licking of her radical nature ; instead, it comes as a concluding pick that represents a fright of some supernatural power of which she may non be cognizant. Subsequently, her retreat into the spiritual sphere proves to be a protective scheme. She regards her matrimony to person she does non love as a kind of penalty and beginning for salvation and shelter from farther calamities that may come if she continues in her evildoings. Here, Sue ne’er contradicts herself and ne’er wantonnesss her renunciation of conventionality. She has ever been a truster, but like Hardy, she has been critical of the spiritual establishment that embraces conventionality and inhibits adult females ‘s freedom.
Gaskell besides criticizes faith for its function in furthering the gender functions perpetuated by the patriarchal society through set uping a penal system that targets adult females as its victims instead than work forces. Joana Mink observes that the 19th century witnessed a strong inclination to penalize adult females who were regarded as fallen. Ruth is Gaskell ‘s commentary on this issue. The fresh high spots the adversities through which the heroine goes and the unfeelingness of the patriarchal spiritual system which condones work forces for their wickednesss and imposes its penalty merely on adult females.
Gaskell ‘s major review of the patriarchal faith is targeted towards the dual criterions it employs when analyzing moral and ethical issues. Ruth entirely faces society ‘s negative attitude and subsequent penalty for holding gone against the spiritual codification of behavior regulating sexual dealingss. Bellingham, on the other manus, is non even questioned. It is unusual that penalty is imposed merely on the adult female, Ruth, although the “ offense ” that she committed needfully requires the being of a spouse. What adds to the badness of this dual criterion is the fact that Ruth was a naif miss who engaged in a sexual relationship with Bellingham without acknowledging its effect. She says “ I was really immature ; I did non cognize how such a life was against God ‘s pure and sanctum will – at least non as I know it now ” ( Gaskell, Ruth 238 ) .
Additionally, within the patriarchal spiritual parametric quantities, adult females had to bear more duty when it came to issues of spiritual morality and behavior. That is why Ruth is instantly fired by her foreman when she is seen walking with Bellingham. She is the lone 1 who has to be subjected to mortifying conditions such as being called a evildoer and losing her occupation. The resulting stigma she wears both externally and inside is formed by spiritual and societal building.
The debut of Thurston, a dissident from the Church of England who is the Eccleston curate and his sister further show the spiritual paternalistic influences in the Victorian society. The curate and his sister return in the pregnant and bare Ruth as a manner of screening her from rough statements about the bastardy of her kid. No 1 is concerned about the adult male responsible for Ruth ‘s status, and how he may hold broken spiritual Torahs. Merely Ruth is to fault, and merely another adult male, the curate, can screen her from social disapprobation. Thurston ‘s warning of Ruth refering a agency to assist her illicit boy learn to get by with the inevitable harsh intervention he will endure at the custodies of the spiritual and socially-powerful work forces offers the penetration that she lacked antecedently. Thurston advises Ruth stating, “ The universe is non everything, Ruth ; nor is the privation of work forces ‘s good sentiment
and respect the highest demand which adult male has. Teach Leonard this. You
would non wish his life to be one summer ‘s twenty-four hours ” ( Gaskell, Ruth 192 ) .
True, the fresh high spots the accent on female piousness and the instant disapprobation of adult females when found offending the spiritual barriers. In this sense, it is ironical that Ruth is more spiritual than the bulk of those who pretend to be so. Her aspiration was to convey up the kid in a spiritual mode and be righteous for the remainder of her life. This opens up avenues for the review of the spiritual rule of clemency. Ruth finally realizes her wickedness and intends to take a pious life and yet society does non forgive. She receives no mark of clemency from society. She was non merely seduced and deserted by the same adult male, but was besides rejected by society and had to confront its rough penalty. In brief, Ruth ‘s narrative enunciates Gaskell ‘s belief that “ ( the female ) sex is severely plenty used and legislated against ” ( qtd.in Beer 35 ) .
Yonge ‘s The Clever Woman of the Family is a domesticated position of the strength of a adult female ‘s mind and the subsequent battery upon it when such audacity is displayed against a patriarchal society. Written as a work of domestic fiction, the fresh utilizations poignancy, sarcasm, and humor to demo how the Victorian society instilled anti-feminine impressions into immature adult females ‘s heads, a phenomenon that is supported by the spiritual scene of the Victorian period. This is clearly seen in Yonge ‘s supporter, Rachel Curtis ‘ audaciousness in being conspicuously violative yet clever when executing Acts of the Apostless of charity by herself and for grounds non sanctioned by the church. Rachel battles the force per unit areas to go forth her elective spinsterhood for some clip, but finally succumbs to the spiritual and societal force per unit area by get marrieding and going a female parent, thereby doing her “ much more truly utile and effectual than of all time ( she ) could hold been entirely ” ( Yonge, Clever 337 ) .
During a treatment with the malevolently-intentioned Mr. Mauleverer following a hunt of the “ Clergy List ” in which she found him to be a “ cathedral canon ” , Rachel is rather vocal refering the “ dogmatic dictions ” of the Catholic church ( Yonge, Clever 165-166 ) . As Mauleverer excuses the applicability in Rachel ‘s hunt and recovery of his name and repute in the list, she responds with an independent mind eventually suppressed and assimilated into the church ‘s patriarchal system of female control and function assignment. She says: “ even some of the most superior individuals refuse to put their custodies to any undertaking unless they are certified of the spiritual sentiments of their coadjutors, which seems to me like a Mason ‘s refusing to work at
a wall with a adult male who liked Grecian architecture when he preferred Gothic! ( Yonge, Clever 166 ) .
Yonge ‘s fiction is a really piquant narrative of life, decease, and subsequent assignment of effects toward immature adult females who challenge the male-dominated hierarchal construction of the church, and by extension, society. This can be readily seen in Bessie ‘s ill-timed decease, the newborn baby ‘s gender – male, of class, and the subsequent autumn and rise of Rachel ‘s position in the church and society through altruistically fostering the newborn and holding to go domesticated. Surely non surprising, the usage of near-death recovery and sudden, apparently undeserved deceases in the book serves to demo how the Victorian spiritual system used to penalize, endanger, tame, and finally reward those adult females who followed the church ‘s normative way. Punishment and menaces were meted out to those who disobeyed the spiritual philosophies, after which some were tamed and rewarded for conforming.
In decision, the above statement shows that adult females in the Victorian period had to confront the oppression of the spiritual system which provided unquestionable authorization to the patriarchal system under which they suffer. For the male society, work forces ‘s laterality over adult females was sacredly ordained, and adult females had no pick but to demo complete submissiveness and credence to such repression. Religion here manufactured the mechanism by which male hegemony authenticated its power over adult females and instilled its inhibitory docket. Within this context, so, adult females who expressed their rejection of the spiritual dictates faced the thrilling power of patriarchate and the delusory balm of paternalism. Each of the supporters referenced in this essay announces, amplifies, and so emblematizes the subjugation dual criterion that was at the nucleus of male-dominated faith of the Victorian period.