More words could be used to describe the accomplished 21st century woman, but I think we would all agree that she is her own person and able to take care of herself. These traits were not the norm for a woman of the Victorian Era (1830s-early 1900s).
Here is a model of the female exemplary from the 1850s:
KENTUCKY MARCH 6, 1814,
DIED JANUARY 8, 1851
RICHLY ENDOWED WITH EVERY QUALITY
THAT ADORNS A WOMAN. SHE WAS A
WARM AND SYMPATHIZING FRIEND, A DUTIFUL
DAUGHTER, KIND SISTER, TENDER MOTHER AND
AN AFFECTIONATE WIFE.
IN DISPOSITION: AMIABLE, CHARITABLE,
AND FORGIVING; REMARKABLY UNSELFISH
FORBEARING AND SELF DENYING; HER DEPORT-
MENT WAS IRREPROACHABLE AND IN ALL
THE RELATIONS OF THE MOST EXEMPLARY.
A CHRISTIAN: CONSISTENT, HUMBLE, DEVOUT,
PATIENT IN SUFFERING AND SUSTAINED BY A
STRONG FAITH IN THE TRUTHS AND PROMISES
OF THE GOSPEL. HER END WAS PEACEFUL
AND FULL OF HOPE.
THE REMEMBERANCE OF HER DEVOTED
SELF-SACRIFICING AFFECTION AND HER MANY
VIRTUES WILL LIVE IN THE HEARTS OF THOSE
WHO KNEW AND LOVED HER.
(On a side note, this picture below is of the front of Mary Eliza's tombstone. Looking at her likeness, I think that she looks very formidable, considering that she died in her 30s. This likeness reflects the glowing review of her character, in my opinion. Her clothing is chaste and modest, she is surrounded by delicate flowers and branches, capturing her delicate approach to her femininity... but I digress)
The summary of Mary Eliza's character perfectly captures the qualities that were expected of the ideal woman in the Victorian Era:
Woman were generally expected to be submissive to their husbands, content in the private sphere (taking care of children, running a household, being active in their church, etc), pure and nonsexual (even rejecting sexuality after marriage unless it was for creating children), and dependent upon her husband or older male family member because women were not (or many thought, not capable of) adept at making appropriate decisions on her own.
It is not to say that Mary Eliza was not a good woman; on the contrary, she sounds like a wonderful woman who would have been respected by many. Her memory stands, however, as an example of how the feminine ideal has changed in the past 150 years.
Would we write this epitaph for own own mothers, sisters, female friends, even ourselves, in the year 2013?