Judith Sargent Murray

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During the pre-revolutionary period, more and more men worked outside the home in workshops, factories or offices. Many women stayed at home and performed domestic labor. The emerging values of nineteenth-century America, which involves the eighteenth-century, increasingly placed great emphasis upon a man's ability to earn enough wages or salary to make his wife's labor unnecessary, but this devaluation of women's labor left women searching for a new understanding of themselves. Judith Sargent Murray, who was among America's earliest writers of female equality, education, and economic independence, strongly advocated equal opportunities for women. She wrote many essays in order to empower young women in the new republic to stand up against society and make it apparent that women are equals. Three notable essays written by Murray about equality are: her earliest essay being Desultory Thoughts Upon the Utility of Encouraging a Degree of Self- Complacency, Especially in Female Bosoms (1784), On the Equality of the Sexes written in 1790, and Observations on Female Abilities in the third volume of The Gleaner written in 1798. In these essays Murray maintains that society must be based on a strict adherence to order - political, social, family, and personal order - while promoting a change of women's place within that order. The main distinct theme of Judith Sargent Murray's essays is equality between men and women. Murray emphasizes on the fact that society has shaped the role of women, and the only way to prove that women have equal minds is to give women the right to an education; also challenging the question of men being superior to women in several ways. Although the wording and minor issues differ, the theme of equality i... ... middle of paper ... ...eves that all people can benefit from equality of the sexes. By her own commitment to bettering the education of women and by reevaluating past women's history, Murray helped to usher in a "new era in female history." Works Cited Murray, Judith Sargent. "Desultory Thoughts upon the Utility of Encouraging Degree of Self- Complacency, Especially in Female Bosoms." Selected Writings of Judith Sargent Murray. Ed. Sharon M. Harris. New York: New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. 44-48 Murray, Judith Sargent. "Observations on Female Abilities." Selected Writings of Judith Sargent Murray. Ed. Sharon M Harris. New York: New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. 15-43 Murray, Judith Sargent. "On the Equality of the Sexes." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 6th Edition. Vol. A. Ed. Nina Baym. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. 2003. 783-791
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