Wollstonecraft and Blake on Women’s Rights

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Mary Wollstonecraft’s 1792 work, A Vindication for the Rights of Women, is a declaration for the rights of women in both the political and social sphere. Living in a male dominated society, Wollstonecraft explores and makes strong arguments for women's education, a new definition of virtue, women's rights and the role of political/domestic life. A year later William Blake published the poem Visions of the Daughter’s of Albion, a commentary on the “tyranny of rape and sexual possession”, but also mistreatment of women in a patriarchal society. (Damrosch 163) Both of these writers were members of circles of intellectuals influenced by enlightened ideals, revolutions in France and America, and new ideas on human rights including slavery. Although Wollstonecraft and Blake both write in favor of rights for women, they each take a vastly different approach.

Wollstonecraft spends a lot of time speaking to the importance of education for women. She perceives education to be of monumental importance for a number of reasons. First, without an education for women equal to that available to men, women are useless members of society. Instead both men and women should be educated as moral beings and guided by reason. (Damrosch ) Second, she argued that the socialization of women and current state of education provided to women was a “false system of education,” which were really conduct manuals “written on this subject by men who, considering females rather as women than human creature, have been more anxious to make them alluring mistresses than affectionate wives and rational mothers; and the understanding of the sex has been so bubbled by this specious homage, that the civilized woman of the present century, with a few exceptions,...

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...t of patriarchy and imperialism. (http://www.rc.umd.edu)

Wollstonecraft and Blake were vocal against the oppression of women by social, patriarchal and legal constraints, although their perspectives would be obviously different. They both compared the rights of women to that of a slave and were intrigued by the opportunity revolutions in France and America offered.

Works Cited

Damrosch, David, and Dettmar Kevin, eds. The Longman Anthology of British Literature. Vol. 2A. Boston: Longman, 2010. Print.

Hutchings, Kevin. "Gender, Environment, and Imperialism in William Blake's Visions of the Daughters of Albion." Home - Romantic Circles. University of Northern British Columbia. Web. 25 Apr. 2011. .

Whittaker, Jason. "The Vindication of the Daughters of Albion." Zoamorphosis. 27 Apr. 2010. Web. 25 Apr. 2011. .
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