In Claudia Nelson’s description on the keyword “Domestic”, Nelson speaks on the definition of domestic and how domesticity is represented in children’s literature. Specifically, Nelson talks about domestic fiction and how tales of the family are told to children. Nelson concludes her description by stating that domestic fiction often portrays that “achieving and maintaining what is domestic..is often neither easy nor pleasant.” We can see this idea maintained in both the literature we read in class and in popular culture. Both the film the Incredibles 2 and Little Women, written by Louisa May Alcott, advance this narrative, that housework and domesticity is strenuous labor.
Both the Incredibles 2 and Little Women speak to ideas about domesticity in ways that paint it as undesirable. In Little Women, Marmee speaks to her children and tells them that she is angry almost everyday of her life. While she instills the values of work in her daughters, she does not pretend that being tethered to her home is joyous work. She states that she wants more for her daughters than to be unhappy housewives. In contrast with this, the Incredibles 2 portrays Mr. Incredible as doing a majority of the domestic labor in the home. In the image above, he can even be seen wearing the baby. Mr. Incredible is tasked with staying home with the couple’s children after his wife is selected to work as a superhero. Mr. Incredible quickly learns domestic work is harder than it seems and longs to work as superhero instead of dealing with the troubles he faces on the home front. Mr. Incredible comes to value the domestic labor his wife performs that he once took for granted only after he experiences it firsthand.
While both representations of domesticity are different in that one is portrayed by a woman and another by a man, both speak to further the idea that domestic labor is undervalued and unpleasant. Marmee and Mr. Incredible carry out these domestic acts as labors of love for their family, each challenging domesticity in their own ways.