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Word Count: 1,529
A maid came free The narrative explores the limitations of women in the 17th century Discuss Despite the 17th century being an age of development especially in the fields of art the barriers of class economic status and gender prevailed Griets eight-pointed star symbolises the different pathways that she believed she had in life However throughout Tracey Chevaliers Girl with the Pearl Earring which was set in 17th century Delft Chevalier attempts to dispel this notion by manifesting the barriers in all aspects of her novel Specifically Chevalier explores the way in which women from the lower class in positions of servitude were subjected to sexual exploitation by men of the higher classes She also explores how women were restricted not only as a result of the discrepancy of power between sexes but also because of the stereotypical roles assigned to them by 17th century society Although the oppression of women is made dauntingly obvious glimmers of hope and triumph are still perceived in the way some of the lower-class females the people at the bottom of social hierarchy were able to make the most of the chances life presented them It was an accepted truth that in 17th century society a maid came free meaning society often considered it typical that women in positions of servitude the most powerless positions were subjected to sexual exploitation by men in higher positions These men were those who were rich and of the middle or upper-class Chevalier exemplifies this notion through the use of the main character Griet an attractive maid and van Ruijven the archetype of the wealthy male in the upper-class Van Ruijven Vemeers rich patron constantly abused his power and position to take sexually harass and exploit not only Griet but also one of his kitchen maidsGriet finds out through Pieter that van Ruijven had taken an interest in one of his kitchen maids and so he wanted her to sit in
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