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In history, women have had to fight their way in order to obtain the same equal education and rights as men In Geraldine Brooks‘ stunning novel, Caleb ‘s Crossing, one examines the role of women in a Puritan society as an underlying theme. In Puritan society, women are thought to only be useful in the home life and should have no lessons or further education after they reach a certain age of maturity. However, what this society does not know is women have wisdom that men will never be able to understand.
In this novel, the Puritan society overlooks the fact that women are smart and capable of moving on to higher education and instead force them to work in the household and never have a say in what their lives will entail. The Puritans believe that God gave every individual, whether women or men, a destiny in their life and people never knew what their lives would entail, Most women in the Puritan society, were destined to work in their house as well as obey and respect their husbands In the novel, Bethia yearns to go to a university where she can obtain an education.
However, due to the values of her society, this dream of Bethia’s will never be allowed Bethia constantly argues with her father over the lessons Particularly in one fight, Bethia’s father says to her, “Bethia, why do you strive so hard to quit the place in which God has set you?” (Brooks 16) Father Mayfield is stressing to Bethia that God does not intend for Bethia to learn and go to college; he intends for her to mainly work in the home Many women, including Bethia, are treated horribly and are not considered as equals to men, Specifically, while Bethia is working at Harvard, a boy by the name of Joseph Dudley treats Bethia unfairly.
Bethia describes the situation, “While the other boys folded their soiled linensr he dropped his upon the floor”.
This shows that even though some men treat women kindly, others are ruthless towards them, especially if the women are working for them. Most women throughout the community are treated thought of as worthless and not as superior as men. What the men in the community do not know is women have dreams and goals similar to those of a man, Bethia has a secret passion to learn and study just like Makepeace, Joel and Caleb do. However, due to the consequences, Bethia has always kept her secret hiddent Bethia finally admits her secret to Master Corlett one night and explains to him, “all my life, the one thing I have yearned after is an education of the kind that is closed to my sex”. By releasing this secret, Bethia feels liberated and comes to find that Master Corlett cares about her and advises her to be cautious with this goal Bethia goes on to later tell Master Corlett that her father stopped instructing her when she hit the age of nine. Because Bethia is not able to continue her studies, it makes her even more curious to learn and she become susceptible to rebel from her father and her Puritan values. Most women, especially Bethia, have dreams of opportunity and to do more with their lives instead of being confined within the walls of their home, However, they are never given the chance chiefly because of the Puritan society. Many women never know what their future will be and this is a cause of their strict Puritan society as well as the men who dominate them. Within the story, Bethia wants to chose her own destiny in life and not be told what to do. One observes how Bethia is taken advantage of, especially by her brother, Makepeace. When Makepeace is unable to get into the university due to money, Bethia is forced to work as an indentured servant to Master Corlett, to pay Makepeace’s way into college.
While Bethia is thinking about her newest duty as a servant, she says, “Since I was banned, by my sex, from the work of ministry, perhaps God meant to use me as the instrument by which my brother might follow that path”. Because Bethia is a woman, she was banned from ever getting the opportunity to further her studies, thus she feels her next duty that God gave her is to help Makepeace and make sure he succeeds in every way. Bethia does not even have a choice, her grandfather as well as Makepeace signed a contract pledging her servitude to Master Corlettt When it comes to Bethia’s future with her family, she does not even get a say in that. When Makepeace finally tells Bethia of this news, he states, “I have written to Jacob Merry regarding his son Noah and his suit for your hand in marriage. I have said we will accept it”. Makepeace did not even consult Bethia when it came to deciding whether or not she would marry Noah Merryt Makepeace instead went off and made the decision on his own. This quote is just another example of how women have little control in their lives in the Puritan societyt However, Bethia is sassy and ruthless and decides to retaliate against all the ridicule her brother has put her through Bethia expresses to Master Merry, “There is a great deal wrong, in my view, with Makepeace Mayfield, who would buy and sell his sister as if she were a sow”. Bethia is comparing herself to a sow and how Makepeace cares so little about her that he would easily sell hers The quote exemplifies the little amount of respect and care Makepeace has towards his only family member left in his life. The idea that women do not have the ability to make their own decisions for their life is one that is constantly used throughout Puritan communities, Throughout Puritan communities, women were very much not treated as equals to men. In the novel, Brooks does a spectacular job in emphasizing this and many other ways in which women are victims of prejudice. Brooks makes it clear that a key factor in this sexism is the Puritan valuesi Women never get a word or opinion in what their lives will entail and instead, are stuck at home to work for their husbands for the rest of their lives. Even if the woman is smart and able to learn, they do not get the same opportunities as men do in this era As history progresses, more and more women begin to speak up against the prejudice of women. Without important historical societies, such as the Puritan ones, women today would not have the same rights or opportunities as one does now.
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