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Marriage: A Legal Form of Slavery

In the society of Mills time period a womans destiny was to be dainty, delicate, patient and graceful. She grew up without education, without having a career and without having the right to vote on laws and issues that pertained to her. The only choice that these women had was to get married and with this marriage she gave away every right that she had. In other words she is now worse off that a slave that actually had more rights and privileges than she. After marriage she has nothing of her own to claim not even her children. Men did not care about her rights, they grew up with a mind set that they controlled everything, that their wives were to be obedient and that their offspring were his and he claimed them as his and only his if the woman were to leave.

Every little boy was raised with this sense of superiority. A woman could not do what a man could; she could not be educated because her role was to be a mother and nothing else.

With a woman decided to marry it wasnt always of her choice, it was more of that there was no other opportunity for her. When married everything that she owned was now her husbands, including anything valuable that was hers. She could not even claim her children as her own even if her husband were dead. If he left his children to someone other than his wife she may have not even been able to see them. Anything that the wife did her husband was responsible for. She was more or less treated as if she were a child herself. A husband could also beat his wife or commit spousal rape without any punishment. As Mill says that, “Men are not required, as a preliminary to the marriage ceremony, to prove by testimonials that they are fit to be trusted with the exercise of absolute power,” he means that what they may say does not mean that is what they are held to and do in their marriage (Mill 35). Even though in most marriages the husbands are not power hungry against their own wives, a married woman is worse off than a slave in that day of age.

A slave compared to a married woman has more rights than she does. A slave can claim their own valuable properties and does not have to hand anything of theirs over to their slaveholder. Unlike a married woman a slave is not a slave all hours of the day. He has a fixed schedule of chores that he does in a day and once they are completed he is son. A slave does have a life of his own when he is off duty. A slave also has time for his own family when he is not working. A married woman is always on duty; she has no time for herself to make a life of her own. She is totally committed to her husband and all of his needs without time for herself. Slaves can actually have time for themselves and do what they please in their own interests. What Mill is trying to say is that as a married woman she has lesser rights than that of a slave. Mill shows a good parallel comparing a woman to a slave, which makes an impact on male readers that did not think very highly of black slaves. That is why this analogy is very good. Saying that slaves have more rights than their women might make men think of why it is that slaves have these rights and women do not.

In conclusion Mill did a good job of getting his point across and in an interesting way. Saying that since marriage is legal and women are treated worse than slaves it is a legal form of slavery. This is true in many situations of this time. The best point that is made is that a slave is not a slave all hours of the day and does have a life of his own. Many women did not have this luxury unless they were of an upper class, which made all the difference in that society. If a woman were of an upper class she had more rights than one of a lower class, in the case of divorce. Mill compares marriage to a “partner in business that one partner shall have entire control over the concern, and the others shall be bound to obey his orders (Mill 39).” This sentence summarizes his whole point about marriage and how the wife has no rights in it. He keeps in mind that a majority of his readers are going to be upper class men. . Mills expression of comparing a woman to a slave is insightful and original for the reader.