It occurs to me after nearly a semester immersed in the literature of this time period—and just now as I browse my classmates reaction to it—that the various types of birth control available to modern people in the post-industrial world may be among the most impactful inventions in the history of mankind.
The anxiety these people suffer over sex is overwhelming. Of course, sex is a serious thing but I don’t think we often appreciate that we are better prepared, in many ways, to deal with it than most people have been throughout history.
Birth control has changed the psychological playing field so much that I wonder if you could track its impact in our genetic code somewhere?
I wonder, when I read Tristram’s thoughts about Jenny, what is the source of his intense anxiety? Besides the emotional and material consequences (potential pregnancy), we have to assume that Tristram has some spiritual concerns as well. Then I started to think about religion as actually a man-made product—and perhaps one of its functions is to help deal with the sex problem—the fact that mankind, the only rational being, is afflicted with serious animal urges.
I know I’m getting all big-picture here but a few hundred years can really change things. What are your thoughts? Have you had any similar thoughts in your reading of some of the other texts?