To what extent have  female authors of the nineteenth century influenced today's society?To what extent have  female authors of the nineteenth century influenced today's society?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In a recent Newsweek, surveys reveal that fewer men vote than women. Among the married men, more are influenced in their votes by their wives. It was this fact that kept Bill Clinton in office, Newsweek notes.

Ironically, elections are now influenced by female opinions when women were once not allowed the vote. George Eliot wrote, " The strongest principle of growth lies in choice." Choice.  Is that not one of the bons mots of today's society?  It was suffrage and the woman's role in society that was spurred by literature.

Authors such as George Eliot, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Emily Dickinson, Kate Chopin, Louisa Mae Alcott, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and Charlotte Perkins Gillman have had a tremendous influence upon today's society.  Louisa Mae Alcott has stated themes of these women: 

I believe it is as much a right and duty for women to do something with their lives as for men and we are not going to be satisfied with such frivolous parts as you give us.

Such strong characters as Jo in "Little Women" and Jane Austen's Elizabeth exemplify women's independence. Ms. Stowe''s Uncle Tom's Cabin effected monumental social change. Gillman's and Chopin's writings stirred the concept of independence of thought for women.  The dissatisfaction with gender roles was a prevalent theme in 19th century literature; this dissasfaction brought about life imitating art as many social changes were made in the 20th century.

dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

'I Shall Not Grow Conservative With Age'  by Elizabeth Cady Stanton is one of my most favorite 19th century quotes. When the Declaration of Sentiments was delievered at Senca Falls, New York in 1848 Stanton and other dedicated Americans set the course to forever change the status of women in America. The beauty of the speech was in its use of analogy. Stanton uses Jefferson's Declaration as the backdrop and frame of reference forcing the listerner or reader to see the discrimination of a group of Americian citizens,whether they like it or not. The greatest argument in the address was suffrage, the right to vote. It is ironic that this demand was not realized until the 20th century, with the ratification of the 19th Amendment. At that point most of the original suffragists' has passed away. However, for those of you out there who see that your life can (and does) effect change, what those gals accomplished in the 19th century still deserves a standing ovation today. 

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I also love the southern regional writers like Bobbi Anne Mason and Anne Rivers Siddons.

Rita Dove has also influenced our century in an amazing way.

Observation, voice, freedom of choice, and women's rights are just a few of the issues they raise.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
The most influential authors were political reformers or social critics. The Victorians, especially Austen, had a firm grasp on what was wrong with society. All women's rights advocates were also influential. We owe these ladies most of our rights as women today.