By Clare Hanson (auth.)
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Additional info for A Cultural History of Pregnancy: Pregnancy, Medicine and Culture, 1750–2000
However, whether intentionally or not, her use of the term invokes the contemporary cult of sensibility, meaning a capacity for emotional sensitivity and delicate feeling. Sensibility in this sense was closely bound up with the ideology of femininity and thus had a double-edged quality: while it implied that women in particular were capable of elevated and refined feeling, it also risked identifying them with feeling and sensation as opposed to reason. Calldid Advice to the Fair Sex is not a treatise on midwifery but an advice text aimed at a non-specialist female audience and with a very definite political and ideological purpose.
23 It is clear that it is her husband's brutal treatment which has caused Maria's 'perturbation of spirits', and that this brutal treatment is grounded in a legal system which makes a wife, in Maria's vivid phrase, 'as much a man's property as his horse, or his ass' (p. 118). This is further underscored when Maria's uncle dies at the same time that her daughter is born, leaving his property to the daughter, with Maria as guardian. By this means he hoped to enable Maria 'to be mistress of his fortune, without putting any part of it in [her husband's] power'.
The apprehension of a miscarriage, obliged me to confine myself to my apartment near a fortnight. 23 It is clear that it is her husband's brutal treatment which has caused Maria's 'perturbation of spirits', and that this brutal treatment is grounded in a legal system which makes a wife, in Maria's vivid phrase, 'as much a man's property as his horse, or his ass' (p. 118). This is further underscored when Maria's uncle dies at the same time that her daughter is born, leaving his property to the daughter, with Maria as guardian.