When exactly did the idea of the "the angel in the house" in Victorian society come up?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The concept of the angel in the house was first mentoned in a poem by Coventry Patmore in the mid 1800's (namely, 1854). The poem was an allegory to Patmore's own wife, Emily. Patmore considered his wife to be the epitome of the perfect Victorian woman. This concept was, in turn, proposed by the ruler of the greatest nation in the world at that time, Queen Victoria of England, who was the first monarch to instill in her subjects a deep sense of domesticity.

Therefore, the concept of the angel in the house was mostly pushed forward by Queen Victoria (and her ever-growing family) as a new form of fashion. Add to this the fact that poets, writers, and philosophers boomed as well during that era, making the memes of the time into big ideas.  As a result, if you combine the idea of a domestic wife with the embellishment that poets and artists gave to it, the result will be the creation of a canon, or paradigm, by which a community will be led.

The angel in the house was one of those paradigms during Victorian times. It proposed that women should be meek, shy, yet graceful, charming, pure, and willing to sacrifice themselves for their family. To feminist writers this concept was highly reductionist: It basically limited females to be household pleasers.

Yet, the angel in the house was a most accepted idea that is still perpetuated in some social circles and even in the ideas of some people who believe that women are meant to be devoid of needs and that their true "god-given" task is to be pious, pure, and a martyr for the family.