Samuel Johnson’s Relationship With Women

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The way in which Samuel Johnson is depicted in Life of Johnson by James Boswell differs in various way from other biographers of Johnson as well as other works of Johnson. In Jeffrey Meyer’s Samuel Johnson: the struggle Johnson’s relationship with women is shown differently than it was in Life of Johnson. In Life of Johnson Boswell tries to depict a very manly and masculine Johnson. Whereas in Meyer’s biography of Johnson readers are able to see a side of Johnson that isn’t as chauvinistic and is sympathetic towards women. Even though, many might see Johnson as being misogynistic in reality Johnson did support both women and one can see this if examining and inquiring deeper into Johnson’s writing and his relationship with women becomes clearer. Further, Boswell’s depiction at times might be flawed but it was strong enough to provide a lasting impression of Johnson being chauvinist when in reality he did support women in their educational and intellectual interests.

Moreover, at times even in texts other than Life of Johnson he might still seem chauvinistic, but a lot of that is also due to the time period that Johnson lived in. Eighteenth-century culture in England women really had few rights and not much value. There were no educational opportunities available, there was the presence of a marriage market, and almost everything concerning women was made to be about things that were completely superficial. In that sense, Johnson even if at times his comments might seem backhanded for that time, he was anything but chauvinistic or misogynistic contrary to Boswell’s depictions. Regardless of the influence and presence of traditional eighteenth-century culture for women, Johnson still strongly encouraged the education of women wit...

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...er ways, outside of Boswell’s commentary that he isn’t as chauvinistic as Boswell has him be.

Throughout Johnson’s writings women are constantly referred to. However, the way Boswell portrays him and how he really is and is portrayed in other works is apparent. There are many times where Boswell quotes him and Meyers has a quote and they contradictory, and that highlights the inconsistency between the different texts. Regardless, Johnson did appreciate and value women. At times he would seem to be chauvinistic but he saw the value of women and appreciated them. By pulling examples from each text it becomes more and more apparent that one can’t just pass judgment on him based off of one text. Rather Samuel Johnson is as complicated of a person as his writing and can not be summed up by just one author; but one needs to view him and his life in a more holistic way.
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