I was thinking yesterday that it feels like forever since we announced our fall book, The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell. And I was right – it was September! But at long last the time has come to discuss . . .
For my question, I’m curious about your thoughts on 2 related matters:
What distinctions did you notice between the way girls and boys were raised in Cosimo’s household? To what extent are Lucrezia and her siblings permitted to experience childhood innocence?
I will be reading your answers and (trying) to respond in the comments but what I’m really looking forward to is our Zoom discussion tonight. I hope you will join Bonny and Kym and I, please let me know if you need a link to join the meeting.
And with that . . . discuss, please!
Great questions, Carole!
It was a sad reminder of how very long women have had society set the course for their life. I loved how the art teacher saw talent in Lucrezia and finagled a way to work with her despite the “rules”.
I am not certain that such a thing as “childhood innocence” existed then… childhood illness that resulted in death was a fact of daily living.
Linda M says
What time is the zoom tonight? I’ve read the book and would love to join you but I’m not sure I will be home in time.
Surprisingly, there were fewer differences between boys and girls than I might have expected, but I think that was more in Cosimo’s household than in society at that time. Lucrezia was still raised to make a good strategic marriage (as a substitute bride after her sister died!) but there were small allowances (like the art teacher like Kat said) made for Lucrezia. I don’t know if childhood innocence existed then, at least not for too long, if you were expected to marry at 13!
There were surprisingly fewer differences between boys and girls than I might have expected, but I think that was more in Cosimo’s household than in society at that time. Lucrezia was still raised to make a strategic marriage (as a substitute bride after her sister died!), but there were small allowances made for her (like the art teacher as Kat suggested). I’m not sure that childhood innocence was very evident, or at least not for very long if you were expected to marry at 13.
I agree that there wasn’t much innocence in those days. Life was hard and expectations were high! I think there was a difference between the way boys and girls were raised (girls, of course, only expected to have a good marriage and produce an heir or heirs). Lucrezia was somewhat successful at ignoring some of the restraints placed on girls…but only for a little while.
I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much education Lucrezia was able to have, though I have a feeling that was not typical for women at the time. Obviously her main purpose in life (like any female) was to marry well and produce children. But I don’t think the boys necessarily had it any easier, because they didn’t have much of a say in what they did with their lives, either.
I think paths were very clearly laid out for all members of society; not much (if any) wiggle room. I think Cosimo’s approach to education was unusual for the times — and although he wanted Lucrezia (and her sisters) to have an education, he certainly didn’t expect her (them) to put it to use . . .
I think both the boys and the girls were treated pretty much the same, they both had expectations on them since birth and had to just go along with what they were expected to do.