It really is very disturbing how little progress we've made in the face of feminism when you read a text like this that was produced over 100 years ago (published in 1895). The quotation above reflects a number of issues women are getting increasingly concerned about, in that they are having to now be recognised in an academic manner, but often have their behaviour proscribed to them in a moral and social sense. One only has to think about recent anti-rape campaigns, which focus on women changing their behaviour rather than changing the behaviour of potential rapists, to see that we still have a long way to go.
Herminia, son of a prestigious religious father, has rather radical ideas about her future. Rather than marry for love, money, or social status, she wants to join a man of an intellectual equal with her in a perfect union which is not bound by the law. When she manages to do so, and convinces him that this relationship is the way forward, they conceive a child, which they hope will be the advent of a new type of woman and class, in which marriage is disdained and women are man's equal. However, when fever strikes and her man dies, Herminia realises that there were quite a number of flaws to her plan ....
Although it starts off rather optimistic about Herminia's ideals, this text soon becomes tragic and very dark. Herminia was way ahead of her time, and her ideals simply cannot cohere with the world she lives in. With the death of her partner comes financial independence, and as a heavily pregnant woman there is little she can do. A life of poverty is begun, in which she is treated as a tainted woman. Moreover, she casts a dark shadow onto the future of her daughter with the dubious state of the relationship she was conceived in.
Have you read it? What did you think?