THIS WEEK IN HOUSEHOLD WORDS
"Righst and Wrongs of Women"
This article on the concept of femininity appeared in Household
Words on April 1, 1854—the same week as the first
number of Hard Times. It helps to illuminate certain
aspects of both mid-Victorian attitudes toward women and their
roles and of the character of Louisa Gradgrind, as it is developed
throughout the novel.
The anonymous author of the piece contends that women are "unsexed"
by unwomanly pursuits—too much learning among them. The
young Louisa Gradgrind is far from the "emancipated"
woman ridiculed in the piece. However, in the opening chapters
of Hard Times, we can already see how her training in
the sciences and in facts (along with the other young Gradgrinds)
and not in typical feminine accomplishments such as music, sewing,
and domestic arts places her outside the category of what the
article calls "the true Woman, for whose ambition a husband's
love and her children's adoration are sufficient."
Download the article