The Role Of Women In Margaret Cavendish And Wollstonecraft

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Literature from the Middle Ages through the eighteenth century has supplied ample insight into society’s idea of the female image and gender expectations. Females of any class status were expected to be submissive to men in every regard, and their primary role in life routinely amounted to nothing more than domestic duties. Men writers’ depictions of females were base and valued a woman’s worth by how beneficial she could be to a man; and women writers’ woefully conceded their lowly positions. However, some women writers were willing to defend against the long accepted female submissiveness that society embraced. Two such audacious writers keen to delve into the role of women in society and propose measures to ensure equality among the…show more content…
Margaret Cavendish is a seventeenth century writer with a style that is vastly avant-garde for the period. Not only her writings, but also her very character, are considered an oddity (Gilbert and Gubar 160). Female Orations, which addresses female readers from every class of society, explores various feministic circumstances in which wide-ranging solutions are ascertained dependent upon individual situations. Although Wollstonecraft has a similarly progressive conviction, the purposefulness of her writing in the sphere of society had a larger impact than Cavendish’s writing. A Vindication to the Rights of Woman addresses men and women with the unilateral ambition “to effect a revolution…to reform the world” (Gilbert and Gubar 370) from the inequality between the…show more content…
Cavendish presents an assortment of solutions for putting an end to male domination. Firstly, she proposes that it is imperative to find a leader among women “to lead [them] out of the labyrinth men have put [them] into” (Cavendish 162). Secondly, women should be allowed to strengthen their mind and body by participating in the same activities and exercises as men which in turn would “make [their] strength and wit known, both to men” and women alike (Cavendish 163). Thirdly, and this seems as if it could be in conjunction with the second solution, “women ought to imitate men…to equal men, both in perfection and power” (Cavendish 163). And lastly, Cavendish has the stand-alone idea that perhaps women should not be bothered with equality but should simply accept the bounteous gifts nature has bestowed upon her. Women should use these gifts to her advantage so that men will enslave “themselves to women’s will and pleasures” (Cavendish 164). Cavendish’s ideas as not nearly as succinct as what Wollstonecraft postulates in her treatise. Wollstonecraft outlines a systematical approach to claim equality among the sexes. She does agree with Cavendish that women should strengthen the body and mind, however, it is to “acquire human virtues” which are the

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