Domestic Content in Works Under Different Social Conditions

Keyword “domestic” is defined as something related to home or more specifically a relatively small realm of close “society”, in which only the household and sometimes a couple of neighbors are included. Domesticity had been frequently presented, in the last two centuries, in a variety of works and ways when feminism had not yet risen. Because of the fact that most of women did work in household and that masculinity still dominated the mainstream society, literature based on domesticity appeared to be criticized to a quite broad extent.

But people just loved domestic literature. Just as what books at that time tend to, Little House on the Prairie starts from a somehow insecure start that the family of the protagonist is moving from a forest in Wisconsin to a prairie in Kansas. Protagonist wilder and her family afterwards experience various amazing adventures on the prairie such as being surrounded by a wolf pack. It reminds of me of Heidi. Although it does not take place in America, they seem to have domestic setting in common. New but relatively satisfying environment, learning to do housework, and meeting with people from outside. They have the power to make you expect something great happens outside of your normal routine life.

Obviously literature about domestic life has its own charm in order to set such a trend from late 19th century into over half of 20th century. Even today, a large population still tend to like domestic books when they are young. It is true that it is more appealing to girls and women because they are more related to chores than people of the opposite sex. A male-dominant world largely restricted them from the exposure to outside world while they played a fairly important role in families to support the whole household. Due to this very cultural factor, domestic content would surely achieve success.

Regardless of the power of masculinity, social wealthiness also has a profound influence on the domestic fan base. In the keyword essay
by Claudia Nelson, she mentioned that some of the work of this kind came to introduce male characters or even protagonists reaching out to a large reader circle including both males and females. Why would boys and men be interested in this kind of content if the works have nothing they relate themselves to (except for the sex of some characters and protagonists)? Let’s not forget another fact when domestic contents are popular — the society was less wealthy than today. That means the works might more or less depict the background about that age, which provokes some emotions in their (the readers’) mind.

Thanks to the rise of feminism and economy, women are no longer considered house-bounded. As a result, I can’t really think of any works that are somewhat related to domestic that present in my life these days. The only thing that I can think of might be the house and doll toys nowadays. They rather teach children concept of family and responsibility in a family rather than providing spiritual insight for older children.

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