Literature of the Antebellum South Criticism: The Role Of Women: A Subdued Rebellion - Essay

Anne Firor Scott (essay date 1970)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Scott, Anne Firor. “Discontent.” In The Southern Lady: From Pedestal to Politics, 1830-1930, pp. 46-79. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1970.

[In the following essay, Scott documents the dissatisfaction of many Southern women with the restrictive roles assigned to them in the Old South.]

Open complaint about their lot was not the custom among southern ladies; yet their contented acceptance of the home as the “sphere to which God had appointed them” was sometimes more apparent than real. Most southern women would not have tried, or known how, to free themselves from the system which was supposed to be divinely ordained, but there is...

(The entire section is 9894 words.)

Minrose C. Gwin (essay date 1985)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Gwin, Minrose C. “‘A Lie More Palatable Than the Truth’: Fictional Sisterhood in a Fictional South.” In Black and White Women of the Old South: The Peculiar Sisterhood in American Literature, pp. 19-43. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1985.

[In the following essay, Gwin suggests thematic affinities between Harriet Beecher Stowe's abolitionist novel Uncle Tom's Cabin and Mary H. Eastman's pro-slavery response Aunt Phillis's Cabin, especially in terms of the feminist subtext in both novels—Southern women as a whole standing against the dominant male power structure.]

… literature and sociology are not one...

(The entire section is 10872 words.)

Jan Bakker (essay date 1998)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Bakker, Jan. “‘… The Bold Atmosphere of Mrs. Hentz’ and Others: Fast Food and Feminine Rebelliousness in Some Romances of the Old South.” Journal of American Culture 21, no. 2 (summer 1998): 1-6.

[In the following essay, Bakker explores the theme of hesitant or repressed rebellion by women in the writings of Caroline Lee Hentz, Caroline Gilman, and Eliza Ann Dupuy.]

In the romances of the female authors of the Old South, there is no myth-making on the theme of the lost American Eden such as appears in the adventure fiction of their male counterparts. What the women wrote were indoor, triumph-of-love domestic romances that reveal suppressed...

(The entire section is 4741 words.)

Karen Tracey (essay date 2000)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Tracey, Karen. “Caroline Hentz: Counterplots in the Old South.” In Plots and Proposals: American Women's Fiction, 1850-90, pp. 49-75. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000.

[In the following excerpt, Tracey examines the “double-proposal” novels of Caroline Lee Hentz as works that critique the position of privileged women in antebellum society while reinforcing the overall values of the Old South.]

… [Elsewhere] I argue that the double-proposal plot is inherently likely to destabilize readers' notions of love and marriage, since by its very structure it calls into question easy clichés of “the right suitor” and “true love.” And I argue...

(The entire section is 11960 words.)