Married Women's Property Act of 1870

The Married Women's Property Act of 1870 isn't expressly alluded to within the text, but it does relate to the state in which women are treated at the time. The Property Act allowed women to keep the money and property they earned, rather than it being credited to their husbands. Prior to this, women were seen as the property of their husbands, and thus everything the women would own went towards her husband. The husbands then could even purge the money as they saw fit whether or not it was initially theirs to begin with. With the Act, wages earned by the wife were kept separate from her husband's. Women could also hold and inherit rental properties. There was also a section that made women financially liable along with her husband for their children. While this is definitely leaps and bounds above where Helen and other women were situated in the novel, there were still shortcomings. It mostly dealt with the earnings of a woman and not so much her property rights. it also lacked any retroactive aspects, meaning women like Helen wouldn't have been able to be considered financially separate from their husbands after marriage. Some criticism of the Act pertained to the notion that it didn't seem bent on actually helping women but rather by limiting any potential fraud from married couples looking for extra cash. There also wasn't much explicit equality resulting from the Act since in many ways women were still very much viewed as the property of their husbands by social standards. The Act was later repealed in favor of more substantial laws.

Associated Place(s)

Event date:

1870 to 1882

Parent Chronology: