Criticisms towards the Idea of Proper Woman in Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist

Theresia Anggarani Wardana, Ni Luh Putu Rosiandani


A discussion about a proper woman always includes the discussion of the concept of separate spheres. In Victorian Age for instance, a proper woman is perfectly described by the term ‘Angel in the House’. Seventeenth century Netherlands also expected the same thing for women in that era. The concept of separate spheres along with its expectations of women’s proper roles is an example of social construction of gender which defines women. This study is conducted to reveal the criticisms towards the idea of proper woman in The Miniaturist.
The results of this study are: first, women who are considered proper by the society in The Miniaturist have two roles, which are being a wife and being a mother. Moreover, women are also expected to have five characteristics: obedient, powerless, submissive, dependent, and domesticated. Second, The Miniaturist, using the setting in the 17th century Netherlands as a tool to criticize people in the 21st century, tries to redefine the way society thinks, including women, about women’s life. The criticisms found in the novel cover four things: criticism towards women’s expected roles; criticism towards women’s obedience; criticism towards women’s powerlessness, submissiveness, and dependence; and criticism towards women’s domestication. The text tries to make women more aware of their own value. Women are also suggested to have self-dominion over themselves, and be more critical, independent, and tougher. Society’s mindset regarding women’s value and capability in the present time is also redefined. The most important thing is the text tries to make people in the 21st century understand women as individuals or persons who have their own right and independence.

Keywords: criticism, proper woman



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Journal of Language and Literature - Department of English Letters, Universitas Sanata Dharma, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

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