In 1866, Emily Davies criticised the irrationality of teaching middle-class women modern languages when social convention would not permit them to venture beyond the domestic hearth. This kind of education, however, even though it was considered less important than learning the classical languages, actually provided a loophole for some women to enter the public sphere as prominent literary figures. Apart from opening up practical career opportunities for women, the study of languages also opened their minds to the philosophies and ideologies explicated in foreign texts, enabling them to explore previously unknown cultural ideas, as well as providing them with alternative means of self-expression. The study of languages took women beyond their instructors by giving them independent access to ideas that were outside their current cultural sphere.