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Reading response papers - Essay Example

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In the most trifling dangers they cling to their support, with parasitical tenacity, piteously demanding succour; and their natural protector extends his arm, or lifts up his voice, to…
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Reading response papers

Download file to see previous pages... ted, may produce some pretty attitudes; but they shew a degree of imbecility which degrades a rational creature in a way women are not aware of-for love and esteem are very distinct things.
In Chapter 4, Mary Wollstonecraft discusses the causes of women’s degradation. In her view, the chief obstacle to a woman’s attainment of knowledge is the role thrust upon her by society: the role of a weak, childish, pleasure-seeking creature, who is ruled by the senses. Wollstonecraft is particularly sarcastic when she describes “the false system of female manners” (53) which women are conditioned to take on. This system centers round the supposed fragility of women. Women accept this imputed fragility and agree to live as captives in gilded cages, expecting homage for their beauty, and emphasizing their weakness in order to arouse the protective senses of men. The foolish obsession with outward finery, and highly-strung nerves, poses a danger to the development of the intellect. The author indicates that the root of woman’s degradation is the acceptance of attention from men for frivolous things: “to lift a handkerchief, or shut a door” (57).  Throughout her essay, Wollstonecraft continues to ridicule this attitude of fragility which women assume, and men subscribe to. She mocks the assumed weakness which makes a virtue of the fear of “the frown of an old cow, or the jump of a mouse.” Her tongue-in-cheek assertion, “ a rat, would be a serious danger,” encapsulates all her impatience with the entire system of female manners, which she firmly believes can be abolished with proper education and adequate physical exercise. She even characterizes such feminine foibles as “imbecility.” Wollstonecraft emphatically argues that strength of body and mind are the only things which will save women from degradation. This is obviously enlightened thinking for the eighteenth ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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