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Galina Doty

Suzanne Roszak

Eng 305

October 21, 2015

Souls Belated

In todays society women face many challenges in the expectations of societal norms. For

centuries women have been trying to defy these roles given to them. In the late 18th and early

19th century the roles of different genders were highly expected and condescended. Due to

gender and social class women were expected to give in to conventional constitutions such as

marriage with judgment if desiring to be independent. A prime example of this is in Roman

Fevers Souls Belated. The main character, Lydia, fights to not fall into these roles society has

made up. Lydia strives for independence and wants to avoid at all costs a shallow type of

lifestyle. She makes it abundantly clear that she does not want to be trapped into the constitution

of marriage that is highly expected of her due to her gender and social class.

Souls Belated emphasizes the pompous lifestyle that Lydia has been trapped in since her

marriage to Tillitson, her first husband. As the story develops it is evident that Lydia does not

want to be involved with this certain lifestyle of luxury. When debating with Gannet, her lover

who now wants to marry her, she explains, We neither of us believe in the abstract sacredness

of marriage; we both know that no ceremony is needed to consecrate our love for each other;

what object can we have in marrying, except the secret fear of each that the other may escape, or

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the secret longing to work our way back graduallyoh, very graduallyinto the esteem of the

people whose conventional morality we have always ridiculed and hated Her status pressures

her to fit into a certain mold and expected to follow certain rules such as getting married. The

idea of marriage is not desirable to her because, to her, men hold all the freedom in a marriage.

Women sign into a life where their freedom is traded for the status and she views this life as

extremely dull. She explains, It was the kind of society in which, after dinner, the ladies

compared the exorbitant charges of their children's teachers, and agreed that, even with the new

duties on French clothes, it was cheaper in the end to get everything from Worth; while the

husbands, over their cigars, lamented municipal corruption, and decided that the men to start a

reform were those who had no private interests at stake (Wharton, 93). Lydia wants more than

what this high society life has to offer. She views this life as a boring routine full of prejudices

with very shallow demeanors.

The high society lifestyle that is displayed in Souls Belated exploits the different

representation for both gender roles. Focusing on Lydias point of view, a womans life in this

situation is trading in ones freedom for a life of riches and prestige. Lydias freedom is crucial to

her and compares being married to a being in a cage. For example when thinking about her

situation with Gannet she communicates, To look upon him as the instrument of her liberation;

to resist in herself the least tendency to a wifely taking possession of his future; had seemed to

Lydia the one way of maintaining the dignity of their relation. Her view had not changed, but she

was aware of a growing inability to keep her thoughts fixed on the essential point the point of

parting with Gannett (Wharton, 95). She is determined not to fall in that trap in the constitution

of marriage which she looks at so negatively. To her marriage is not desirable and married

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woman are stripped of their freedom just like prisoners. Being a newly unmarried woman was

scandalous and expectations became drastically high to marry Gannet and to avoid being a

broken woman.

Souls Belated is a fine example how women can face the feeling of being suppressed by

society rules. Nowadays a majority of women can freely strive for independence. Before women

suffrage and the several waves of feminism, women struggled greatly with their freedom and for

a majority of the time fell into the mold that society made for them. Lydia fought to be her own

person and have her independence but due to fear of isolation and the pressures of society gave

into what she most feared. Souls Belated shows how difficult it was to contravene these norms

pressured on women at the time.

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