After Peter the Great's reforms, women were introduced into social life. Gentlewomen's life did not consist of parties, balls, trips and making acquaintances with celebrities only. They were obliged to educate and marry. In the 18th century young ladies had two ways of life to choose from - to learn at home or at an institution – ‘institute'. Institutes were closed schools and studying there lasted twelve years. Gentlewomen were taught to speak foreign languages, dance, sing and play musical instruments. The most important was the knowledge of French - the language of upper classes. Institutes enforced very strict discipline under the supervision of educators. Young ladies were often punished even for little offences. Isolation of young girls during this period resulted in infantilism and lack of experience. Russian literature of the 19th century abounds with novels describing gentlewomen's lives after leaving the institute. Writers took various attitudes to the institutes' former pupils: some of them criticised this form of education while others found it delighting.
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