“If all men are born free, how is it that all women are born slaves?” This quote was from one of Mary Astell’s pieces of literature and it was a question she wanted all women to ask themselves. Mary Astell is known as “the first English feminist” and I chose her as my topic for this paper, because I believe in a lot of her beliefs about how women should be treated equally to men and be allowed to pursue whatever they wish- whether that be a career or a degree. I though she’d be an interesting topic and her views on feminism have made an impact on they way women think today, which means that I think she should be included in the canon of major English writers.
Mary Astell was born in 1666 to Mary Errington and Peter Astell at Newcastle on the Tyne River in England. Her mother was a merchant and taught Mary all the things a woman should know and how to act, but Mary wanted to learn more than her wifely duties, she wanted to expand her knowledge of the world and make a difference in the world. Her uncle, Ralph Astell, was a clergyman who noticed her thirst for knowledge and took her under his wing and began teaching her lessons in philosophy, mathematics, and logic. He started her education, but at the age of thirteen Mary’s uncle passed making her have to continue her learning on her own.
Her family life continued to go downhill because a year before Ralph Astell passed, her father, Peter, had taken the same fate. Mary’s mother was awarded a small pension to take care of expenses and their home, but most of the funds ended up being given to Mary’s brother so he could pursue his education, this leaves little for Mary and after her mother dies in 1864 she moves to London in the Chelsea District.
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...ir thoughts and not feel as if something was wrong with them. Astell gave women the chance to fully experience their life and expand on their knowledge and spirit. She made women realize that they were their own person not someone who had to be ordered around and under-appreciated. So thank you, Mary Astell, for being brave enough to share your thoughts and make a life for yourself, because it gave women the courage to do the same.
Lindemann, Kate. Women Philosophers. Web. 7 Dec. 2013.
"Mary Astell." BrainyQuote.com. Xplore Inc, 2013. 7 December 2013.
"Mrs. Mary Astell.” English Churchwomen of the Seventeenth Century. 3rd ed.
New York: J. A. Sparks, 1846. 116-119.
“Some Reflections upon Marriage.” The Norton Anthology English Literature.
Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2012.
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