Marriage as Prison for Maria

In Maria’s tragic life, she had a terrible marriage and was finally imprisoned in a mental institution by his husband, George Venables. As a matter of fact, Maria has done nothing wrong, but her entire life was abused and destroyed by her husband. The marriage for Maria was like a prison, and she only served as a slave in the marriage.

During Maria’s flee from home, she fell in love with George and they were married later. George turned out to be a terrible husband since he spent time and money in gambling and finding prostitutes and never cared about the family. Although George should shoulder the responsibility of supporting the family as a man, he would choose to lift the burden to Maria, which was utterly unfair to Maria. As an outstanding feminist writer, Mary Wollstonecraft stated in her masterpiece A Vindication of the Rights of Women that, “But not content with this natural pre-eminence, men endeavor to sink us still lower, merely render us alluring objects for a moment.” (Wollstonecraft, A Vindication p121) Apparently, in Mary Wollstonecraft’s opinion, men were naturally taking women as inferior to them, so they would never treat women with equality. Therefore, it made sense that George should leave everything in the family to Maria and take it for granted that Maria should take care of the household.

Worse still, in the marriage, George even forced Maria to participate in the sexual encounters, which led to Maria’s pregnancy. Maria’s willingness in the sexual relationship was also controlled by her husband, so she nearly had no freedom or rights between her relationship with her husband. As Maria said, “Men, more effectually to enslave us”, (p66) so she seemed to be the slave of her husband in her eyes. When George used up all the money in the family, it became extremely hard for Maria to maintain the family. The blows for Maria could be tremendous, but she could do nothing to change her situation in the marriage since women were expected to stay at home and take care of the family, and only men got the opportunity to participate in education, politics and so on. Thus, when women had no rights, their destiny could only be controlled by men, which was just like Maria’s marriage.

Evidently, George was in the dominant position in the marriage, and Maria was deemed as inferior to him as a slave. Therefore, Maria had no rights in the family and merely had to suffer from her husband’s insult and humiliation. When she was suffering from the misery of the marriage, nobody could or would like to save her since women possessed no rights at that time. Because Maria was a woman, so she had no rights, and she could only live as a prisoner in the family and stay invisible to the entire society. Thus, a woman like Maria was doomed to be controlled by man for her whole life at that time.

Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Women. New York: Oxford University Press. 2009.