Victorians took a keen interest in the social roles of men and women, especially those which were regarded as customary. This fascination led to the “Woman Question”, which was a discussion that addressed issues of gender inequality in education, politics, and economics. Men and women were split on this issue. Some thought their roles were divinely appointed and that to bring women up to equal standing with men was to go against God. Other women saw subordination as the most heinous form of slavery. During this period, feminist movements began to gain popularity and public recognition. The feminist movement began to gain momentum and recognition during this time.
In the end, men couldn’t continue to advance in life while ignoring women. The majority of the population took a long time to understand this. Women’s voting rights were granted in 1918, after the first petitions had been submitted to the British Parliament. The early feminists were accused of having “disgraced both themselves and their sexuality” (Stanton). There were many men who were anti-feminists. However, one man stood out as a strong advocate for equality. John Stuart Mill’s book, ‘The Subjection of Women,’ and his efforts in Parliament were pivotal to the fight for equal rights. They also helped solve the “Woman Question”. As women demanded more rights in terms of political, legal and economic matters and increased opportunities for women, this period saw an increasing focus on the domestic.
Coventry Patmores poem, “The Angel in the House”, (1854), contributed to the creation of the ideal domestic angel. The idea was that the perfect women were submissive and weak to their husbands. They also had a spiritual aspect. We will discuss whether the “woman question” constrains or liberates the characters in “Lady Audley’s Secret”, or “Woman in White”. Also, we’ll examine how these characters react to society’s perceptions and effects.