Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts

Meg  Rosoff

Julie  Battaglino 
Women’s Struggle for Education in Britain: The Role of Oxbridge

Meg Rosoff: Finding One’s True Identity in Times of Crisis

The persistent fights put forth by women to gain equal opportunities in Britain eventually led to success, as women won the right to attend Oxford and Cambridge Universities, and to be seen as equals, despite the many hardships put before them. In 1878, Oxford became the first school to admit women to hear lectures and to sit for examinations. Cambridge later followed Oxford’s lead, and accepted women into university studies. By confronting male domination and community expectations, Cambridge women proved to male university officials that they deserved an equal education. World War I both helped women’s rights by providing them new opportunities for work at the same time that it retarded progress on women’s suffrage. The Women’s Public Day School committee and Women’s Social and Political Union worked for women’s equality, and helped women gain the confidence to take leadership roles in society. Graduates such as Indira Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto used their education to gain political prominence. Women not only fought for equality in the classroom, but in society and throughout the world.

Everyone faces obstacles at some point in his or her life, and how a person handles these obstacles determines his or her true identity. The characters in Meg Rosoff’s novels all set out on a search for their true identities – a search both prompted and made more difficult by their respective societies, which continually place obstacles in the characters’ paths. Society’s low expectations, particularly for women, force these characters to go on a search for their identities in order to prove society’s opinion of them wrong. Pell Ridley, of The Bride’s Farewell, embarks on a journey for independence and self discovery. Society dictates that she can only be a housewife and mother, but she wants to prosper in her career in a new town instead. Along the way, she demonstrates her competence, strength, and confidence as she encounters and overcomes difficulties and losses. Like all Meg Rosoff’s protagonists, Pell surmounts the obstacles before her with great determination, thus morphing into the person who she originally desired to become.

Major Works Consulted:

Burns, William. A Brief History of Great Britain. New York: Checkmark, 2010.
Rosoff, Meg. The Bride's Farewell. New York: Plume, 2009.
---. How I Live Now. New York: Wendy Lamb, 2004.
Sager, Peter. Oxford and Cambridge: An Uncommon History. New York: Schoffling, 2005.
Photo Credit: Rosoff, Meg. How I Live Now. New York: Wendy Lamb, 2004.