Student Question

How do Catherine's views on 'the new feminine world' contrast with Edwina's?

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Catherine is a staunch feminist and activist involved with the Woman's Suffrage Association, an organization devoted to campaigning for votes for women. Her family and Sir Robert Morton admire Catherine for standing up for what's right, even if they don't share her enthusiasm for the cause of women's suffrage. Nevertheless, her brother Dickie still harbors a fascination for the new feminine world that Catherine wants to see established. He asks her if, in this brave new world, women will foot the bill instead of men. When Catherine replies that they certainly will, Dickie jokingly commits himself to the feminist cause.

Dickie's lady-friend Edwina Gunn, however, has a much more conventional understanding of a woman's place in society than Catherine. We don't find out a great deal about her, but we can safely assume that she's conventionally submissive. After all, Dickie insists to Catherine that it would be better for women to keep their opinions to themselves, even if they're in agreement with their menfolk. And given Dickie's blatant chauvinism one can't imagine his being with a woman who has the same radical outlook on gender relations as Catherine.

A further clue as to Edwina's attitude to the "new feminine world" is revealed when Dickie says in response to a gift of money from his father that Edwina wouldn't mind receiving a present or being taken by Dickie to the theater. The implication is that Edwina willingly adopts the conventional role of women in society as the recipients of male largesse instead of paving their own way as Catherine wants them to.

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