Friday, August 10, 2007

A Pithy Quote from GKC

Now if anyone says that this duty of general enlightenment is in itself too exacting and oppressive, I can understand the view. I can only answer that our race has thought it worth while to cast this burden on women in order to keep common-sense in the world. But when people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question.

For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean.

To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area -- deciding sales, banquets, labours, and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area -- providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes, and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area -- teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene: I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.

I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.

From What's Wrong with the World by G. K. Chesterton (via Blackberry Bramble's post on 4Real)

1 comment:

The Bookworm said...

One of my favourite GKC quotes! Thank you for posting it.