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Marriage as a Trade by Cicely Hamilton

Marriage as a Trade (1909)

by Cicely Hamilton

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For St. Valentine’s Day I found this book on the library shelves. It’s a feminist look at Edwardian marriage from the suffragist Cicely Mary Hamilton (1872- 1952). To her contemporaries her argument must have been disturbing: ‘that marriage for woman has always been a trade that is practically compulsory’. While they believed devoutly that girls’ were ‘To keep house, cook, nurse and delight in making other happy is your mission, your duty and livelihood.’ She argues lucidly and undermines lazy thinking, useless shibboleths and sentimental attitudes of both men and women to marriage. There’s also an amusing dry humour about the restrictions imposed on women: ‘Were her soul the soul of a pirate, it had to be encased in a body which pursued the peaceful avocation of a cook.’ She addresses education, motherhood, housework (who dusts the china dogs?), equal pay, honour (why did Lucrece kill herself when she was the victim?) women in art and literature, spinsterhood (she is wonderfully happy as an independent working woman) and the future of women. ‘The recognition of woman’s complete humanity, apart from husband or lover, must mean inevitably the recognition of her right to develop every side of that humanity, the mental and moral, as well as the physical and sexual’. Only then could a relationship be free of the taint of women, like Beck Sharp, having to marry to make their living - the only profession (and an amateurish one at that says Hamilton) for which they have been trained since girlhood. The ‘companionship in marriage of self-respecting man and self-respecting woman is a very perfect thing’ and that is partly what Hamilton hoped for those women who wished to marry, those women coming after her generation had fought for their freedoms - women of today.
  Sarahursula | Feb 10, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cicely Hamiltonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lewis, JaneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 070433870X, Paperback)

Originally published in 1909. This volume from the Cornell University Library's print collections was scanned on an APT BookScan and converted to JPG 2000 format by Kirtas Technologies. All titles scanned cover to cover and pages may include marks notations and other marginalia present in the original volume.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:38 -0400)

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