IJSRP, Volume 5, Issue 2, February 2015 Edition [ISSN 2250-3153]
The position of women in the 19th century was a critical one. The society was governed in the patriarchal mode. The public sphere was not accessible to women as it was to men. Various kinds of limitations were imposed on women’s conducts especially in the fields of law, education and even on lifestyle. Again, side by side, there were various positive changes taking place around that time. For example, the Married Women’s Property Act was passed in 1870 which protected the legal position of women within the family. The 19th century was also important as a time when feminist campaigns to improve the legal status of women were undertaken in areas such as vote, the family and reproduction. The family was traditionally viewed as a private zone that was largely beyond the reach of the concerns of law. The feminist campaigns, to secure equality within the family, was therefore, viewed as threat to the stability of family life. The grounds have been prepared by such writers as Mary Wollstonecraft, who argued about the position of women in her book A Vindication of the Rights of Woman as early as in 1792. All these brought a new perspective in the Victorian society. In terms of all these changes, it is really interesting to see how hardy represents the position of women through the major women characters in his novel “The Mayor of Casterbridge”.