Feminist criticism is concerned with "..ways in which literature (and other cultural productions) reinforce or undermine the economic, political, social, and psychological oppression of women" (Tyson 83).
This school of theory looks at how aspects of our culture are inherently patriarchal (male dominated) and aims to expose misogyny in writing about women, which can take explicit and implicit forms.
If some notions of inequality were giving way to the idea that the sexes were 'equal but different', with some shared rights and responsibilities, law and custom still enforced female dependency.
As women gained autonomy and opportunities, male power was inevitably curtailed; significantly, however, men did not lose the legal obligation to provide financially, nor their right to domestic services within the family.
In private life women were subject to fathers, husbands, brothers even adult sons.
Publicly, men dominated all decision-making in political, legal and economic affairs.While the end of the era saw some demand for 'free' partnerships without the sanction of marriage, and an increase in same-sex relationships, both were generally deemed deviant.The mid-century was notable for its moral panic over prostitution, which developed - despite a 'permissive' interval in the 1860s - into demands for male continence outside marriage.Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.Though a number of different approaches exist in feminist criticism, there exist some areas of commonality.The gender history of 19th-century Britain can be read in two ways: as an overarching patriarchal model which reserved power and privilege for men; or as a process of determined but gradual female challenge to their exclusion.Moreover, the key symbol of democratic equality, the parliamentary franchise, was expressly and repeatedly withheld from women.In relation to health, the Victorian age saw major changes in knowledge and practice relating to public sanitation, largely in response to population growth and rapid urbanisation, with the gradual provision of piped water, sewerage and improved housing.At the end of the era, a socially shocking topic was that of the virginal bride (and her innocent offspring) infected with syphilis by a sexually experienced husband.Bringing together political and personal demands for equality, the slogan: 'Votes for Women, Chastity for Men' was coined.