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Lecture 4

ENGB35H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Empiricism, Radical Extension


Department
English
Course Code
ENGB35H3
Professor
Natalie Rose
Lecture
4

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ENGB35 – Lecture 4 – Little Women Discussion
Mrs. March:
Glorification of motherhood
How does Mrs. March teach the girls?
oMoral: “turn[s] ur own stories against us and give[s] us a sermon
instead of a romance”
oRomantic: reading and imagination; absence of institutions
All the girls except Amy goes to school, however, when Amy
was treated badly by her teacher at school, she was allowed to
stay home and be home-schooled
oEmpiricist: “Mrs. March knew that experience was an excellent
teacher and when it was possible, she left her children to learn alone
the lessons which she would gladly have made easier, if they had not
objected to taking advice as much as they did salts and senna” (Ch.
26)
Learns lessons from experience
oStrong sense that the girls depended on their mother
oOne of the effect of shipping Mr. March to war is that it brought upon
the idea of dominance of the household
oThe set up of two household public sphere (men) & private/domestic
sphere (women)
18th cen.
Women’s’ ideal back then was to make their household a place
where their husbands could come back and relax
o“His intellect is for speculation and invention; his energy for adventure,
for war, and for conquest, wherever war is just, wherever conquest
necessary. Bu the woman’s power is for rule, not for battle, and her
intellect isn’t for invention or creation, but for sweet ordering,
arrangement, and decision. […] The man, in his rough work in the
open world, must encounter all peril and trial [...]. But he guards the
woman from all this; within his house, as ruled by her, unless she
herself has sought it need enter no danger, no temptation, no cause of
error or offence. This is the true nature of home – it is the place of
Peace; the shelter, not only from all injury, but from all terror, doubt,
and division” (Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies, 1865)
How does Alcott portray the households and what is implied about the
domestic sphere?
“I can’t help looking over at your house, you always seem to be having such
good times. I beg your pardon for being so rude, but sometimes you forget to
put down the curtain at the window where the flowers are. And when the
lamps are lighted, it’s like looking at a picture to see the fire and you all
around the table with your mother. Her face is right opposite, and it looks so
sweet behind the flowers, I can’t help watching it. I haven’t got any mother,
you know. And Laurie poked the fire to hide a little twitching of the lips that he
couldn’t control”
oLaurence household:
Cold
Quiet
Empty
Wealthy
oMarch household:
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