gilded cage

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gilded cage (plural gilded cages)

  1. (figuratively) A place (or, by extension, situation) which is superficially attractive but nevertheless constraining; a comfortable but confined situation.
    • 1932, "June & Duty", Time, 23 Dec 1932:
      Two years ago he wrote of the Presidency as the "final sacrifice," adding: "The restraint, artificiality and loneliness in the White House... seems the life of a pet in a gilded cage."
    • 1994, Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, Abacus 2010, p. 650:
      There were no bars on the windows, no jangling keys, no doors to lock or unlock. It was altogether pleasant, but I never forgot that it was a gilded cage.
    • 2009, Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian, 27 Mar 2009:
      In many circumstances, religion has been used to bully and intimidate women and deprive them of power. It may have offered inspiration and meaning, but too often it has been something of a gilded cage.