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Catharine Beecher and Charlotte Perking Gilman Essay

In the article “Catharine Beecher and Charlotte Perking Gilman: Architects of female power” the author attempts to compare and contrast the convictions and beliefs of Charlotte Gilman and, her great-aunt, Catharine Beecher. One of the most important factors that is seen repeatedly in the article, is the concept that the environment encompassing the home is the center of all commerce for a woman. This thought process continues to build and establishes the idea that what begins in the home continues to radiate out into the lives of the woman and her family. Each female author further attempted to define the roles of a woman directly corresponding with the roles beginning in a woman’s private life and extending into the public life. Although Catharine Beecher and Charlotte Gilman had completely different interpretations of this ideology, the fact that the foundation of the argument was the same purports that the concept, regardless of interpretation, could have some basis on reality.

The author of this article, Valerie Gill, very thoroughly cites from not only Catharine Beecher’s books “A Treatise on Domestic Economy” and “American Woman’s Home,” but also from Charlotte Gilman’s book “Moving the Mountain” and several of her lectures and articles including an article titled “Applepieville.” Gill (1998) states, that “Like Catharine Beecher, Gilman links the role of the women to the general health of the social system; the dependent and isolated situation of women in their homes…” (p. 2). Gill (1998) goes on to further state that “In spite of their different strategies for defining and locating women, however, Beecher and Gilman share an interest in the topography of female experience” and that “Both writers conceptualize the identity of women in spatial as well as socioeconomic terms, assuming that the fulfillment of their own sex can be quite literally mapped out.” (p. 2). The article then moves into much greater detail, analyzing each woman’s many forms of printed material.

The extent and degree of information and detail written in this article about each represented author and their contributing works can ultimately be seen as one of the articles main strengths. However, although this article gives a vast amount of information on the women’s opinions and beliefs the article at times seems disassembled and erratic. The flow of the article is somewhat hard to follow, and without an increased measure of concentration, the ability of the reader to comprehend and decipher whom the author is speaking of can be lost. Also, with the extensive amounts of information and detail that each female author contributes to the argument, readers are bombarded with data to interpret and distinguish upon. With the author of the article not decisively choosing the strongest points of argument from each author, the information becomes overwhelming and possibly confusing at times.

The article “Catharine Beecher and Charlotte Perking Gilman: Architects of female power” attempts to give readers two different perspectives of a woman’s role in her home and how this affects her presence in society. Readers are given a multitude of supporting facts from both women’s interpretations on the topic. This fact, in certain circumstances, proves to be not only a strength of the article but also a weakness. Regardless of how each woman author interpreted these ideals, the simple fact remains clear that each assumed the role and presence of a woman becomes clearly defined as beginning in the home.

References

Gill, V. (1998). “Catharine Beecher and Charlotte Perking Gilman: Architects of female power”. Journal of American Culture, 21 (2). Retrieved from http://ctcdns02.ctcd.edu:2122/search/multiSearch.do;jsessionid=F6C4B68D9202464AFE8BAF1AC27987B8


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