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Buddy Reads > The Odd Women Chapters XVII-XXI

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Elizabeth (Alaska) I was struck at the contrast between this section and the previous chapters. We have heard them discussing the right of women to work outside their previously proscribed duties of teacher and domestic. In these chapters they discuss how men should want women, and women should want, to be more intellectual, to be able to discuss the issues of the day, to be more companionable.

Everard: For him marriage must not mean repose, inevitable tending to drowsiness, but the mutual incitement of vigorous minds. Passion--yes, there must be passion, at all events to begin with; passion not impossible of revival in days subsequent to its first indulgence. Beauty in the academic sense he no longer demanded; enough that the face spoke eloquently, that the limbs were vigorous. Let beauty perish if it cannot ally itself with mind; be a woman what else she may, let her have brains and the power of using them!

And Monica: What, she asked herself again, would be the end of it all? Ten years hence, would she have subdued her soul to a life of weary insignificance, if not of dishonour? For it was dishonour to live wth a man she could not love, whether her heart cherished another image or was merely vacant. A dishonour to which innumerable women submitted, a dishonour glorified by social precept, enforced under dread penalties.

I am concurrently reading The Forsyte Saga, in which Monica's "problem" is repeated there. Themes in literature may repeat themselves, but different authors deal with them differently.


message 2: by Anna (new)

Anna | 30 comments It was almost inevitable that Monica was not going to be happy in this marriage. Widdowson pursued her far too diligently that it was obviously going to lead to a possesive jealousy.

But in a way, the whole point of this book thus far, is that women had very few options other than marriage and I think Gissing is using the Monica and Widdicombe relationship to prove his point. By contrast he is introducing the idea that women were beginning to have more choices but this was coming on the back of marriage being the only option.

I'm enjoying this book very much and looking forward to reading the next section.


message 3: by Janice (JG) (last edited Sep 16, 2012 12:22PM) (new)

Janice (JG) Anna wrote: "It was almost inevitable that Monica was not going to be happy in this marriage. Widdowson pursued her far too diligently that it was obviously going to lead to a possesive jealousy.

But in a w..."



Yes, today if a man was that "diligent" in his wooing, he'd probably be labeled a stalker. He was obviously desparate and obsessive, and Monica was simply ignorant and self-indulgent in the way the youngest, prettiest daughter/sister would be.

Her self-interest reminds me of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind -- it gets her in trouble, but it also nurtures a will that helps her survive the day.

I, too, am really enjoying this book.


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