It’s interesting to note this article, which discusses how recently, primogeniture has been sought to be ended in England. Primogeniture is the practice where the the firstborn male, or male relatives inherits the family fortune. Primogeniture, which had disappeared during the Barbarian era, reappeared during the middle ages in Europe. It has existed ever since. The issue of primogeniture is at the center of the popular TV Show Downton Abbey’s first season. When a wealthy Uncle loses his nephew aboard the destroyed Titanic, he looks beyond his eight daughters for a successor.
Perhaps what is most interesting about this article is the comments below. Many of the readers point out how primogeniture is only an issue among the upper class, and how the women mentioned in this article, being the “aristocratic poor”, are a lot better off than than lower class women in general. However, I believe these comments put more value on the material aspect of primogeniture, rather than what primogeniture signifies.
What strikes me about primogeniture – is that it gifts the affirmation of belonging somewhere only to members of a certain gender. For the Liz Campbells who have belonged to this family for generations. To be denied that inheritance, perhaps more than anything is to be denied a sense of belonging. For they are born into a family, exist in that family, but as far being given a share in the the “eternal” part of that family – that part which will exist after them- communicates they only temporarily belong. Men, I have noticed in reading, are naturally given a place to belong, while women fight for that place. For instance, in Medea, once her husband has cast her off, her home is not secure. Here, this is an issue of belonging.