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Word Count: 1,794
Clintons presents the realities of lives of plantation mistresses their activities as wives mothers and household managers The most important contribution that Clinton makes however is in showing how the institution of slavery affected all aspects of southern womens lives Southern attitudes towards marital fidelity abortion and birth control were all conditioned by plantation owners need for both heirs white and workers blacks or mostly so The author warns readers not to replace one myth that of sexless beauty of purity and pampered idleness with another the contemporary romantic image of buried passion ready to erupt at a moments notice For both myths are equally falseThis book centers on the life of the planters wife in the antebellum south 1780- 1835 the author shows that the white mistress was actually more in bondage that the slaves because she literally had no other woman or a community with who to share her experience The Negroes in contrast shared a common background going back roots in Africa their daily work and local subculture with fellow slaves Clinton doesnt avoid controversial subjects exploited in recent fiction about the antebellum era She does succeed in exposing the romanticized character of the unfaithful white mistress by showing that promiscuity was simply not part of the accepted code of the southern women Ample quotations from the women themselves give first person voice to the text Catherine Clinton successfully reveals the truth behind the myth created of the charming belles and courtly balls in the antebellum south In The Plantation Mistress the author skillfully reconstructs the realities facing a restricted and repressed class of women who have been historically eulogized by Hollywood and the popular press for over 150 years The idea is simple the leisure status of the planters lady is a fairy tale told to spruce up the Lost Cause image The planters wife was in charge not merely of the mansion but the entire spectrum of domestic operations throughout
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