Abstract: I examine how three European women used the people of the Middle East to construct their selves in response to the constraints of religion and gender in their societies.
Harriet Martineau was a Unitarian, but embraced atheism. In the Middle East she encountered a form of Christianity that challenged her views about Jesus and religion. She also encountered women in harems who challenged her understanding of what a true woman was.
Ida Pfeiffer found travel to be liberating. She also discovered that this resulted in a conflicting relationship to her home. Her experiences in the Middle East caused her to critique her own society, yet her pilgrim activities in Jerusalem, in which she was unable to appreciate the forms of worship she encountered, reminded her how strongly her ties to home, particularly religious ties, actually were.
Amy Fullerton viewed the Middle East through Evangelical eyes. She focused on its biblical associations and the Protestant missionary work being carried out by single women. Through this focus she demonstrated that she was strongly committed to Evangelical ideas of biblical truth and ideals of women.