Essay on The Blazing World as Feminist Manifesto

Essay on The Blazing World as Feminist Manifesto

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    Margaret Cavendish truly had faith in the female spirit, and she felt that women were never given the credit they deserved.  Cavendish wholeheartedly believed that women could comprehend philosophy and politics as well as men, and that they should be allowed to study these subjects freely.  In addition, she called for the independence of women from masculine restrictions.  Because of this, feminism abounded in her thoughts and works.  In The Blazing World, Margaret Cavendish shows that women are capable of ruling a world effectively when power is given to them.  She also shows that women are capable of excelling in a created world within their minds, free of limitations set by men.

     To better understand Margaret Cavendish's The Blazing World, one must examine her background.  When Cavendish was only two years old, her father died, leaving her mother to raise the family alone.  As a result, her mother became a role model of "female independence and administrative competence" (Lilley ix).  This proved to young Margaret that a woman could handle miscellaneous affairs quite well on her own, and it instilled strong feminist values in her.  She firmly believed that "the Woman was given to Man not onely to delight, but to help and assist him" and that "Women would labor as much with Fire and Furnace as Men" (qtd. in Harris 210).  Her shining example must have been her widowed mother.

     Later, when Cavendish began to publish her written works, she boldly used her real name instead of a psuedonym.  This was highly unusual for a woman to do in the seventeenth century (Lilley x).  Cavendish was fully aware that women who wrote philosophy were going completely against all norms; she compared it to "men in petticoats" (q...

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Battigelli, Anna.  Margaret Cavendish and the Exiles of the Mind.  Lexington: University of  Kentucky, 1998.

Cavendish, Margaret.  The Blazing World and Other Writings.  Kate Lilley, ed.  New York:  Penguin, 1994.

Hunter, Lynette, and Sarah Hutton, eds.  Women, Science, and Medicine: 1500-1700.  Glouchestershire England: Sutton, 1997.

Harris, Frances.  "Living in the Neighbourhood of Science."  Hunter 198-217.

Hutton, Sarah.  "Anne Conway, Margaret Cavendish, and Seventeenth-Century Scientific Thought."  Hunter 218-234.

Iliffe, Rob, and Frances Willmoth.  "Astronomy and the Domestic Sphere."  Hunter 235-265.

Wiseman, Susan.  "Gender and Status in Dramatic Discourse."  Women, Writing, History: 1640-1740.  Grundy, Isobel, and Susan Wiseman, eds.  Athens: University of Georgia, 1992.  156-77.



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