Gender Expectations in the 1800s

Gender Expectations in 1800s:

As readers can see, I have drawn a man and a woman in opposite corners of the page and selected the quote, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in what of a wife.” from Pride and Prejudice (pg. 3). This quote introduces the concept of gender roles for men and women during the 1800s.

During that time period, men were considered superior over women, which was why I chose to colour the man’s arms orange. According to negative colour symbolism, orange represents superiority. I have also drawn his back turned away from the lady, and drawn him at a higher spot on the page to demonstrate the superiority men had over women.

As the 1800s progressed, men increasingly commuted to their place of work; they were the one who provided all the money and wealth in order to be at the top of social stratification. Men were physically stronger than women, and were considered to have a higher intellectual level. Wives, daughters and sisters were left at home all day to oversee the domestic duties that were increasingly carried out by servants.

The green coat the man is wearing symbolizes wealth and money, and going back to the idea of social stratification, men who inherited “old” money from the previous generations, were considered to be a “safer” match for marriage. Old money was secure and had a smaller possibility of bankruptcy compared to “new” money where men who set off on their own journey to make new money from gold mines, or becoming merchants, etc.  There was also a lesser chance of death; if a man died during his journey of making new money, the engaged lady would fall to the bottom of social stratification, and become a serf or slave.

Having wealth also meant that a man also had power; which is why I chose to surround the man in a red colour. Not only power, but red also represents strength, desire, energy, and passion. The stance the man is in, with his arm behind his back, represents authority, and also a symbol for power. A man who held himself tall would be a more suitable match than a man who slumped and did not have the correct posture.

A man was supposed to be secure, as mentioned earlier, which is why I drew him wearing grey boots. Grey represents reliability, intelligence, dignity, modesty, and maturity. These are all traits men were expected to have due to society’s conventions.

However, society’s conventions not only affected men, but also women. (Especially women) I have drawn the woman in the poster purposely at the bottom of the page, with her head bowed down and curtsying to the man, to demonstrate a women’s inferiority to men at the time. They were expected to marry into a family with great wealth to secure their status, be able to play the pianoforte, and be able to withhold conversations with guests, etc.

A women’s life was filled with expectations, and an “accomplished” woman would have fulfilled all of society’s conventions. I have chosen to colour in the women’s dress lavender, because it symbolizes femininity, grace, and elegance; all of which were traits of what women were expected to have.

I have also surrounded the woman with a light blue colour to represent the airs or auras they were supposed to have. Blue symbolizes peace, calm, tranquility, trust, and turquoise represents feminine appeal. To add to that, blond hair was considered to be the image of beauty, also applying to the idea of women’s expectations.

By using colour symbolism through out my poster, I have demonstrated the gender expectations of men and women during the time period of the 1800s.

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2 thoughts on “Gender Expectations in the 1800s

  1. Dear Kelley,

    I would like to start off by saying that I appreciate your thorough understanding (and I’m sure research) regarding colour psychology and what the different colours symbolize. I never knew that orange was associated with superiority! Cool! I also like how you were able to then relate those colours, as well as the stances and body positions of the man and woman in your piece, to the idea of gender inequality during the 1800’s. Very clever choices artistically.

    I would encourage you to solidify the ideas you brought forth in this post by providing further (explicit) examples from the text itself. I’d maybe even mention how Pride and Prejudice is feminist literature, and how Austen tried to defy this gender inequality through her writing.

    I’ve enjoyed reading your writing in the past, and now I am lucky to say that I have gotten to see some artwork from you too! It was a pleasure. 🙂


  2. Dearest Kelley,
    There’s a strange sort of uniqueness to your blog post that excites my thoughts after reading your blog post. Firstly, I commend you for utilizing your artistic prowess to represent your novel of choice, as that’s an idea I had never considered possible, due to my limitations in analyzing visual representations. Your blog post allowed me to transcend those limitations, as I was guided through the analysis of a visual image by the hand of the artist herself! I’m currently in a highly elated state, as I can finally understand how a single aspect of a visual (in this case, colour symbolism), may come to represent a topic as vast as the gender roles of a time period. Your brilliance allowed me to find a path that I could follow, and in my following of that path, I was able to find great joy. Thank you!

    In my first reading of your blog post, I discovered that my eyes felt tranquil resonance in your diction and syntax. As I read over the sentences, my mind was not scrambling to compile information and to compute something out of it, but rather just to enjoy the words you had provided. The positioning of your commas allowed me to have a brief pause in my reading of this piece; however, that space of time was always filled with contemplation of your insights. Furthermore, the structure in your paragraphs made your analysis so enticing to follow! This feeling is one that I will treasure, as it makes me wish to only continue reading forever so that my heart may be able to maintain the feeling of peace which it has been given.

    Your ideas are profound; it had not occurred to me that an individual would be able to use the symbolism of colours to analyse an entire idea. In all honesty, it did not ever occur to me that colours could even be used to identify more than two emotions… yet your excellence in writing (along with your dexterity in artistry) proved otherwise. The terms “boyish colours” and “girly colours” (which were prevalent in my childhood) sprang to my head during my reading; your elegant art enhances these terms into the ideas of gender roles.

    In terms of improvements, I think adding a portion to your blog post that makes a connection to your choice of novel (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen), particularly a connection where you analyse how Austen depicts the clothing of Elizabeth Bennet in comparison with the clothing of Mr. Darcy. It’s only a suggestion, as I understand that trying to place a connection like this would most likely interrupt flow; given your skill in writing, hdeowever, I feel that you would be able to find a way to do so.

    Overall, I loved reading this blog post. It gave me peace, and that is something I truly treasure (especially with our forthcoming examinations…). I was able to, as always, take away something (or multiple things) from your writing that I felt would improve my own writing, one example from this post being your usage of commas. It has been the greatest honour to have been in the same family group as you, as I’ve learned quite a bit, and I was always able to find joy from my time in AP LA. Thank you for always being a source of learning for me, as well as a source of inspiration; I wholeheartedly believe that I cannot thank you enough.


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