Read page 266–267 in Mark M. Smith's The Old South and discuss wat the Antebellum South choose as the required qualities for a good wife. What were the principal objectives behind designing these rules of the qualities of a good wife?

The Antebellum South chose self-command, thriftiness, diligence, and strict adherence to religious morals as qualities for a good wife. The South's principal objectives were to reinforce the importance of the domestic realm and downplay the bad behavior of men.

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According to Rev. Dr. Bishop, a good wife in the Antebellum South must be industrious, economical, and “distinguished for self-command.” These qualities suggest that a wife in the Antebellum South had important responsibilities. Bishop describes a wife as “the head of a little society.” It’s as if Bishop is trying to say that a good wife should manage her world with the same composure, diligence, and thriftiness that her husband, ideally, practices in his realm.

By referring to a wife as the leader of a “little society” and in charge of a “whole range of government,” Bishop draws parallels between the woman’s world and the world at large (the man’s world, some might say). The husband has his society and government, and the woman has hers. Although they are different, the wife’s domain isn’t necessarily inferior. Based on Bishop’s lofty tone, the woman’s domain appears as consequential as the man’s, which is why wives need to be good and heed his instructions.

One could argue that a principal objective in Bishop’s article is to compel women to compensate for the base behavior of men. In the final paragraph, Bishop states that men “polluted with every crime” will still “shudder” at the prospect of their wives and daughters deviating from the “influence of Religion and the morality of the Bible.” In Bishop’s view, a husband who misbehaves isn't as offensive as a wayward wife. The gendered way in which Bishop measures transgression makes it reasonable to claim that the good wife has to ultimately play by different rules than her husband.

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