by Laurie Halse Anderson
Fever, 1793 Theme of Women and Femininity
What are the avenues offered to women in Philadelphia in 1793? Before the fever, Matilda's family assumes that she will find a nice young man like Edward Ogilvie and marry him. This, after all, is what decent young girls are expected to do. Matilda, though, has other plans – plans that don't include being a housewife. An independent girl, Matilda wishes to run the family business – just like her mother has been – and take over and expand the coffeehouse into something quite grand.
Questions About Women and Femininity
- What are Matilda's options for a career? How about Eliza's? Nell's?
- What is Matilda's opinion of marriage? Why?
- In what way is Matilda a different kind of girl than the Ogilvie daughters?
- Why does Matilda refer to her mother as a "captain"?
- How does Matilda's relationship with her grandfather shape the woman she becomes?
Chew on This
Fever, 1793 suggests that you can challenge expectations for your gender, and – with the help of other likeminded people – succeed.
While opportunities for women in the eighteenth century were limited, Matilda manages to carve out a path for herself and for others, like Eliza.