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Stephanie
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Whole Book Discussion: Then and Now

As Iris discovers more about Cauldstone, she discovers some of the more outrageous reasons that women were sent to “mad houses” like it. According to the novel’s descriptions of that time period, what do you think drove this trend? Do you think changes have occurred in our view and treatment of women who don’t “behave?” Why or why not?

This thread is suitable for those who have read most or all of the book. Please be aware that this section may contain spoilers.
Stephanie
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Cahill42
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Registered: ‎12-30-2006
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Re: Whole Book Discussion: Then and Now



Stephanie wrote:
As Iris discovers more about Cauldstone, she discovers some of the more outrageous reasons that women were sent to “mad houses” like it. According to the novel’s descriptions of that time period, what do you think drove this trend? Do you think changes have occurred in our view and treatment of women who don’t “behave?” Why or why not?

This thread is suitable for those who have read most or all of the book. Please be aware that this section may contain spoilers.




The time period in question is one in transition. WWI is over, but war is looming on the horizon, Britan is not quite the powerhouse it once was, and people are more and more uncertain of the world around them. People on a whole are resistant to change, and this time period is rife with it. Women didn't have many rights and were expected to "toe the line." Behave or else. Be proper young ladies, poke at your needlework, simper over weak tea, and prepare your wedding trouseaues in the chance that some man will take you for his wife. Women of a certain class were expected to go from the nursery, to the classroom, and then to the bedroom, with no thought to what they might want for themselves. Anyone who dared to walk outside the box was brought in line, one way or the other. In an insane world, I think shunting away those "undesirables" was certain families way of exerting control.

Although we don't (I hope) commit women for dancing too much or refusing to cut their hair or running away with a clerk, I think families and society as a whole still view those women who don't "behave" as something to sweep under the carpet. Societal norms are still in effect, changed a bit since the 1930s, but they are still there. Now we're expected to "be it all." Wife, mother, career-minded woman. That's us. I'm not all that sure that Esme would do that much better in 2007 than in the 1930s.
Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.---J.K. Rowling

I'm a leaf on the wind, watch me soar.---Wash
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Debrachris
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Re: Whole Book Discussion: Then and Now

This doesn't quite answer the question above, but I wanted to mention another atrocity women experienced during WWI.
I read a work of fiction and unfortuntately I cannot remember the title (sorry!) but if you google, "venereal disease, WWI, incarcerated women" you should find it. During WWI, women who were found to have contracted a venereal disease, where isolated in institutions and had to undergo very unpleasant treatments to cure their disease. It was essentially a punishment as well as a cure. The men were not incarcerated; they were simply medicated. If a soldier was found to be diseased, he had to report with whom he had sexual relations and these women were taken away, even if they had contracted the disease from the man! Another example of blatant unfair treatment of women. Thought you might be interested
Regards, Debbie
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Stephanie
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Re: Whole Book Discussion: Then and Now

Debbie,

I'm sure these reasons were partly the cause of the women's movement. Feminism seems slightly ridiculous to today's youth, but they really haven't a clue as to how lucky they are that their grandmothers decided enough was enough.

I only felt sorry for Kitty at one or two points throughout the novel, and one of those points came when we discovered how unbelievably naive she was in regard to sexual intercourse. Even then, I thought, ask the doctor, Kitty, that's his job! Of course, her husband must have had some trauma (or he was a homosexual) in his own childhood to behave the way he did, as well.
Stephanie
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Fozzie
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Re: Whole Book Discussion: Then and Now



Stephanie wrote:


and one of those points came when we discovered how unbelievably naive she was in regard to sexual intercourse. Even then, I thought, ask the doctor, Kitty, that's his job! Of course, her husband must have had some trauma (or he was a homosexual) in his own childhood to behave the way he did, as well.



I thought that Kitty's husband simply did not love her. Yes, he did behave a bit strangely, but not inconsistent with a lack of love in a relationship.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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IBIS
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Re: Whole Book Discussion: Then and Now

I agree that Duncan and Kitty did not seem to care very much for each other. The entire arrangement of the marriage seemed lackluster.

No matter how naive people are about sex, if they cared a hill of beans for each other, believe me, they'd discover everything all by themselves!

And they'd think they invented it all(!)
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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Stephanie
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Re: Whole Book Discussion: Then and Now

I'm not sure that Duncan knew any more than Kitty did, but still, you're right, certainly they could have figured it out. Except Kitty was expecting Duncan to do everything, and he had some very strange ways about him... he began, then leapt away! Perhaps his religious/home upbringing taught him that sex was evil and dirty?
Stephanie
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