In gentry homes of middling affluence, the old maid compensated for the additional burden she placed on the household by service to the family.
Anne embodies not the old maid characterized by the physical signs of aging and dimming beauty but a person marked by sorrow recovering from loss (albeit self-inflicted) of a hoped-for union.
In The History of Miss Ravensworth, the old maid is "about forty" and the maid is "a pretty young girl about sixteen" (Skinn 4).
Seton's four examples, "actual living examples--no fictions" (13), reveals a lesson about old maids and wives.
Sedgwick might appear to believe that motherhood and marriage are a woman's natural calling, but at the same time she questions the biological basis of motherhood to show that old maids are as maternal as wives and mothers.
The problem Violet reemphasizes is that marriage makes spinsterhood "second best," a position to which old maids do not inherently belong.
Nevertheless, this does not prevent her from pointing out the isolation and lack of respect given to old maids.
In "Old Maids," Sedgwick reiterates her argument that the degree of separation between being married and single, between wives and old maids, is insignificant.
Gussman and Kelley might ask a question similar to the one raised in our earlier discussion of Hope Leslie: If Sedgwick felt so strongly about the position of old maids in antebellum America, why not retain the heroine's status as spinster at the end of her tale?
Seton's estimation, are women who marry merely to avoid the stigma of being called an old maid, those of whom it is said, "she 'married to die a Mrs.
It here turns outward and includes the old maid in the national family, as well.
The wife possesses individualism, as does the old maid.
Agnes's independent nature, her exceptionalism, makes her better suited for a life as an old maid than as a wife.
Yet again, Sedgwick writes the old maid into marriage by arguing that relationships should, in fact, open up to include, not exclude, intimate connections with others.