In light of the place of woman in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, how does Barbara rebel against traditional feminine roles?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Major Barbara’s rebellion must be seen not only in light of the construction of the “new woman” as a rebellion against gender but also as a class rebellion.

The Salvation Army would have struck audiences of the period as an odd choice for an upper middle class girl, as dissent (in its sense as Protestantism not part of the Church of England) and evangelical religion were more associated with the lower middle classes. On the other hand, the Salvation  Army was among the first organizations in Britain (and first Christian organizations in the world) to have absolute gender equality through all its ranks. Thus in joining it, she enables herself to exist within a society far more equal than the wider one of her period.

Her independence and association with lower class men (unchaperoned) were also radical for her period,.


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