True Womanhood exemplified in Light in the Darkness: A Sketch from Life

922 Words4 Pages
True Womanhood exemplified in “Light in the Darkness: A Sketch from Life” Women tend to put pressure on themselves to fit the mould of an idealistic woman- whether it's being the perfect mother, wife, sister, and daughter. Even in the mid-nineteenth century, women were expected to exemplify the attributes of True Womanhood in order to maintain a perfect image. According to Barbara Welter, “True Womanhood, by which a woman judged herself and was judged by her husband, her neighbours and society could be divided into four cardinal virtues – piety, purity, submissiveness and domesticity” (152). Women from this time period are expected to behave according to these virtues, and also to embrace the “angel of the house” ideal. A woman lacking these virtues is severely looked down upon by society, and is considered a “fallen angel”. Mary Eliza Herbert advocates True Womanhood values in her story, “Light in the Darkness: A Sketch from Life.” She does so by presenting two women, Ms. Dormer and her daughter Blanche, whom each posses these four virtues, therefore representing idealistic women of the mid 1800’s. The first virtue of True Womanhood is piety or religion, which Welter describes as the core of women’s virtue, and the source of her strength (152). A woman who is religious, participates in church activity, and follows the bible is assumed to lead a happy, sensible life. Ms. Dormer has a strong pious virtue, as she has a strong relationship with God which gives her strength and hope, and believes that God will provide for her and her family even at the hard times when she is without a husband. Ms. Dormer’s depressing thoughts start to consumer her, however she, “...quickly [checks] such thoughts, and remembers Him who has promised to be a “Father to the fatherless,” and a “Husband to the widow,” ... [and is reminded of the] gracious promise made to those who
Open Document