Essay on sexuality in 19th century

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Essay on sexuality in 19th century

That obscurity reflects nineteenth-century culture. Early in the century, when homosexual activity was perceived almost exclusively as a crime, a sin, or both, men who engaged sexually with one another were most often labelled "sodomites. This array of labels and meanings consolidated into the pervasive "homosexuality" only after the trial of Oscar Wilde for his liaisons with other men.

At its inception, the word "homosexual" expressed a largely medical notion of sexual desire, reflecting its first use by the Swiss doctor Karoly Bankert in Through the efforts of Bankert and other sexologists, the public gradually became familiar with an idea of homosexuality as inherent to an individual, a quality that encompassed but also outstripped sexual acts.

In the twentieth century, this trend would develop into the image of gay and lesbian identity we find most familiar today. The general silence about sexuality in Victorian culture fostered a corresponding muteness in literature.

Rather than being completely absent, however, homosexual desire and activity emerged in literature and in culture through socially acceptable and heavily disguised forms, such as the romantic friendship. Emily Dickinson and George Eliot, for example, enjoyed significant emotional relationships with other women.

Romantic friendships between women were integral to Victorian culture since they were entirely compatible with Victorian notions of female sexuality, which was considered almost nonexistent.

Historians have disagreed about the extent to which such friendships were actually platonic, some arguing that chaste Victorian women would have maintained asexual attachments.

19th Century Essays: Examples, Topics, Titles, & Outlines

Others insist that at least some of these relationships—which often lasted a lifetime and involved not only a shared home but also a shared bed—must have included a sexual component.

Such bonds between men were also accepted in a way unfamiliar to twentieth-century culture. Walt Whitman celebrated male-male attachments in Leaves of Grass and did not shy from investing them with physicality. Alfred, Lord Tennyson's In Memoriam has long been recognized as a tribute to the author's profound emotional connection with another man.

Thus experienced and valorized by many of the century's writers, these intimate same-sex relationships filled Victorian literature without ever prompting the charge of homosexuality. Where these descriptions masked physical desire, the disguise was necessary to avoid social and legal condemnation.

British law—and American law in its shadow—maintained a vehement condemnation of homosexual activity throughout the century, even as reforms relaxed measures that had oppressed other minorities for centuries. Slavery, for example, was abolished throughout the United Kingdom inand laws punishing English Catholics were eased considerably.

The death penalty was revoked for many crimes—including rape—in the law reform. For the "nameless offense of great enormity," however, the death penalty remained intact and was regularly enforced: When the death penalty was abolished init was replaced by life imprisonment.

Essay on sexuality in 19th century

The Criminal Law Amendment Act ofaimed primarily at reducing heterosexual prostitution, once again redefined measures against sodomy, heterosexual and homosexual: It was on this last charge that Oscar Wilde went to prison.

No such laws addressed lesbianism, however, since authorities appeared to consider it too unimaginable or unmentionable even to condemn. Occasionally, women were prosecuted for "masquerading" in male attire and thereby usurping male social and economic prerogatives. Despite the heavy persecution of male-male sexual activity, homosexual subcultures thrived as they had for centuries.In the 19th century, sexuality was constituted in scientific terms.

Within western societies, there developed a ‘scientia sexualis’, whose objective was to produce real and honest discourses on sex, the truth on sex to be precise. Free female gender roles and sexuality 19th century papers, essays, and research papers.

My Account. Your search returned over essays for "female gender roles and Initially this essay will explore the meaning behind gendered roles, their creation, and their importance in modern society. Using a case study of the conflict and ethnic. In The Introduction to the History of Sexuality, Foucault explains how during the 19th century with the raise of new societies, the discourse or knowledge about sex was not confronted with repulsion but it “put into operation an entire machinery for producing true discourses concerning sex” (Foucault 69).

The Awakening: Sexuality in Nineteenth Century Literature Essay example; The Awakening: Sexuality in Nineteenth Century Literature Essay example. Words 5 Pages. Pleasure's a sin, and sometimes sin's a pleasure.

Sexuality in Nineteenth Century Literature Essay example.

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The 19th-Century was a period in which the expression of sexuality and sexual compulsion was firmly repressed.

Charles E. Rosenberg explores the typical behaviors of the sexes, and how they related to the expression, or repression, of sexuality in “Sexuality, Class and Role in 19th-Century America.”. From marriage and sexuality to education and rights, Professor Kathryn Hughes looks at attitudes towards gender in 19th-century Britain.

During the Victorian period men and women’s roles became more sharply defined than at any time in history.

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