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Although we tend to think of aging as an inevitable biological reality, there are powerful norms and values that shape our experience of each life stage. are entirely lacking in due and proper reverence for age and its accompaniments,” and old people are “often considered burdens, spoken of as having outlived their usefulness and their day; spoken of often with thoughtless, if not heartless, lack of reverence.” Mullikin’s sentiments convey the extent to which old age was a stigmatized status, and she registers pre-emptive shame, what she calls an “inward shrinking,” at the idea of becoming old, which she attributes to concerns about frailty or loneliness but rather to the social stigma against elderly people in mainstream American culture (how old people are “considered” and “spoken of”).Consider, for example, an essay entitled “Growing Old Gracefully,” which appeared in an 1875 issue of . Discussions of old age as pathological and feeble pervaded late nineteenth-century popular culture as scientists and social workers classified “the elderly” as a population and made older people subjects of social organization and medical scrutiny.
Her story, “A Mistaken Charity,” published in the collection in 1887, centers on two elderly sisters who are coerced into moving to an “Old Ladies’ Home.” At the beginning of the story, Charlotte and Harriet Shattuck live together, rent-free, in a dilapidated home; they are described as having “old rheumatic muscles,” “feeble cracked old voices,” and “little shriveled hands.” Moreover, Charlotte is blind and Harriet is deaf.
However, even as they inhabit a deteriorating house and aging bodies, Harriet and Charlotte are content, and “it could not be said that they actually suffered.” Instead, they take much pleasure from the natural world, and Charlotte, the blind sister, delights in the “chinks” in her consciousness, her word for the “light streamin’ in all of a sudden through a little hole that you hadn’t known of before.” These chinks suggest her alternative orientation, and the story’s own interest in opening up a previously overlooked, unseen reality to its readers.
” a variety of well-known writers, including Julia Ward Howe, Mary E.
Wilkins (Freeman), and Rebecca Harding Davis, almost unilaterally refused to answer the question as posed.
Such age-phobic rhetoric is commonplace in American culture, especially as it relates to women, its history stretching back at least to the second half of the nineteenth century, a period that historian W.
Essays On Plight Of Old People Hegel Antithesis Thesis
Andrew Achenbaum calls a “watershed in which the overall estimation of old people’s worth clearly changed.” In this essay, I trace the construction of old age, as we now know it, to the turn of the last century, which saw the rise of convalescent homes, geriatric medicine, and mandatory retirement.Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, wrote, “I am on another story with an old woman in it; I only hope people wont tire of my old women.” Here Freeman acknowledges that fiction about old people, especially women, risks alienating readers and disappointing critics.Nonetheless, she was widely respected by the gatekeepers of the literary establishment, published in the premiere venues of the day, and was compared by her earliest critics to Nathaniel Hawthorne.The sisters, in other words, must be relocated not because they are unhappy or in danger but rather because they are too openly old and frail.The narrator notes that “the struggle to persuade them to abandon their tottering old home for a better was a terrible one.” Mrs.By the time they reach a certain age, women are expected to be less visible and less vocal, and those who refuse to conform to age expectations are disciplined and vilified.We can easily recall how the coverage of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign drew on long-held prejudices about old women as shrewish and ineffective.For example, Howe acknowledged aging as individual and idiosyncratic, noting that “the development of character does not correspond with the period of physical growth and maturity.” Their collective refusal to treat women’s lives as quantifiable and uniform in their unavoidable decline serves as a feminist rejoinder to a culture increasingly preoccupied with aging as pathological and unattractive, especially for women.In their fiction, nineteenth-century women writers resisted limited notions of old age.By urging her older readers to consider “jet in its many varieties” and explaining that, “most elderly women require a rather plain skirt, whether the material be cloth or silk,” Ralston aligns old age with plainness and discretion.To be an old woman, she implies, one must become as diminutive and unobtrusive as possible, and such dictates mandate that only one model of old womanhood is appropriate. In 1894, when ran a forum called “When is a Woman at Her Best?