The School of Femininity: A Book for and about Women as They Are Interpretated through Feminine Writers of Yesterday and Today

By Margaret Lawrence | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X HELPMEETS

Edith Wharton--Helen Grace Carlisle--Mary Borden --May Sinclair--Margaret Goldsmith--I. A. R. Wylie --Kay Boyle

THE HAUNTING ROMANTIC MYTH of femininity is the desire innate in the gentlewoman to lean against the protection of a man who loves her.

It is not a myth which haunts every woman. It never was. It is a myth not now in good standing with women. For this is not an age of gentlewomen. It is a period belonging to little girl pals and go-getters and matriarchs. The gentlewoman when she does appear among us is an archaic creature. The great lady whom the gentlewoman becomes with sufficient worldly experience is still more archaic. For the circumstance which produced the gentlewoman, and the worldly experience which developed her into a great lady, was a peculiar circumstance which is almost unknown now.

The gentlewoman is a woman who shrinks instinctively from elbowing her way either with men in emotional relationships, or with the world in careerist ventures, or with society in an effort to get the limelight. She is a creature who has evolved from generations of protected women. Her femininity has come from sexual, economic and social guardianship. She is usually the result of a long line of family and social caste, including economic ease. She comes to maturity believing in the chivalry of the man who will take her for himself. She trusts her own romantic feelings about him. Against the economic struggles she is helpless--a lamb among wolves. In society as it is now she is lost. For breeding has produced in her a tendency to

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The School of Femininity: A Book for and about Women as They Are Interpretated through Feminine Writers of Yesterday and Today
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Part I The Nineteenth-Century School of Femininity 1
  • Chapter I We Write as Women 3
  • Chapter II Mary Wollstonecraft 14
  • Chapter III Jane Austen 32
  • Chapter IV The Brontë Sisters 60
  • Chapter V George Eliot 89
  • Part II The Twentieth-Century School of Femininity 157
  • Chapter VII Little Girl Pals 159
  • Chapter VIII Go-Getters 183
  • Chapter IX Matriarchs 210
  • Chapter X Helpmeets 248
  • Chapter XI Sophisticated Ladies 281
  • Chapter XII Priestesses 311
  • Chapter XIII Artistes 339
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