February 16, 2007 3:32 PM
Chesterton on Domesticity
When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.
-- G.K. Chesterton
HT to Michelle at Uncool Mommy.
Love it! Thank you!
Posted by: Leslie | February 16, 2007 10:44 PM
I love Chesterton. :)
I've been reading a lot of books dealing with "women's issues" and it's kind of sad how Chesterton and others get beat down so often by feminists. Victorians were "woman haters" (as were all cultures before 1960, apparently), so anything they wrote about women is interpreted negatively. The Chesterton quote, instead of lifting up and honoring women and the work we do, is viewed as a sneaky ploy to keep women in their place. Yet somehow feminism hasn't succeeded in capturing honor and high esteem for women in this age...
My 'Victorian' minded husband uses the phrase "heart of the home" in reference to wives/mothers at home, and I love it! :D
Posted by: Margaret | February 17, 2007 7:46 AM
That's beautiful It would be a good response if people knew what Whitely, Trafalgar,or the rule of three are.
Posted by: Katie Gillet | February 17, 2007 11:58 AM
I came across this passage (and many more!) in a collection of Chesterton essays entitled Brave New Family: G.K. Chesterton on Men & Women, Children, S*x, Divorce, Marriage & the Family. You might be interested in reading it, Barbara. There are lots of great articles. One of my favorites is a letter to his future wife where he talks about taking an ordinary house and making it allegorical through mystical and ancient (mostly Biblical) sayings inscribed on everything. I think I'd like to do that on some small scale someday!
Posted by: Lucy | February 17, 2007 8:59 PM