January 9, 2018
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This section stood out to me because of the sarcasm and contempt that Wollstonecraft displays. She states that she hopes that other females will forgive her for treating them rationally, yet the purpose of this piece is to prove that women are capable of being rational beings when they aren’t treated like children. This passage also reveals the contempt that Wollstonecraft feels for both men who think women are inferior and women who perpetuate this stereotype. In her eyes, women cannot be taken seriously if they won’t choose to make themselves strong and would rather continue to remain delicate flowers.
“Because intellect will always govern” I think is a strong tie-back to earlier, where MW addresses the natural, biological strength advantages that men have in “the government of the physical world,”. What I think is clever about that line in relation to this ending is that it brings the reader to the conclusion that we, as human beings, are not combined to the government of the physical world anymore. We inhabit the intellectual world of discourse–the fact that this begun with a letter written in protest of a constitution proves that. And by re-using govern here, to draw us back to the earlier idea, she sets up her metric of measurement. That if tigers suddenly had government, and discourse, they would stopped being judged superior or inferior on who could run the fastest or kill the easiest. In this paragraph, she’s making the same comparison for women.
[that in a pre-existent state the soul was fond of dress, and brought this inclination with it into a new body,]
This appeal to the reality of the soul is a mainstay throughout the present work. Wollstonecraft reasons that if it’s be be granted women have souls, then their pursuits should involve reason and intellect no less than material and sensual pursuits. The equation of spirituality with mind is of a piece with other Romantic tendencies we’ve already noticed: the equation of art with religion in Blake, for instance. The increasing secular vision of Romantic sensibility in the 1790s and beyond, or rather the the spiritualization of the secular, was used as the means for many varieties of desired social reform–here gender reform, but all of it rooted in the sanctity of individual experience and rights, regardless of external conditions and circumstances.
“Men, indeed, appear to me to act in a very unphilosophical manner, when they try to secure the good conduct of women by attempting to keep them always in a state of childhood.” When we were just reading and discussing the Blake and his ideas on innocence and exp the picture was painted to us how a childhood state would be innocent. So here MW can be seen as comparing what a man wants to do to a woman. To keep her innocent, to keep her unexperienced, to keep her in what the men of the time would regard as the highest form.
This brings to mind the Gnostic idea that the physical is lesser, tainted, debased, under the sway of the Demiurge. The mental, the spiritual is the higher, touched by the divine. Blake was suggesting that the experienced was to see the moral dimension to life, to see the banality of much of what men do on the physical, purely materialistic level. MW wants to lift women from that level by the sharpening of their rational mind, lift them from the life of just pleasing the libertine nature of their husbands, and the banality of worried about appearances and dress. She wants women to possess empowered moral senses by giving them agency to make their own choices.
I completely agree with you; especially the last line, “She wants women to possess empowered moral senses by giving them agency to make their own choices.”
Women of this (MW’s) age have always been told to sit at home, drink tea, have babies, do their needlework, and make sure the home is run properly. MW wants to let all the women know that that is not what they have to do anymore, that they can do a lot more with their voices than just sitting at home doing what they are expected to do, which is usually what makes the men of that time happy–they feel that being a woman discredits them from doing anything the men can do and thus aren’t smart enough to carry out anything the men can do.
This whole thing resonated with me because of the way I was raised–I was given choices in my life to do what I wanted; though within reason. It is the same notion of when I married; I took the role of wife to the level that some women scoff at now. I stayed home, took care of our son, took care of the house, made all the meals, all of it, because he worked all day and didn’t need to come home and have to do things there also. Towards the end it wasn’t enough and I’m an ex-wife, however I do think MW would have been disgusted by me and would say that I had set women’s liberation back a long way even though, through her own words, it was all my choice.
The whole of this work really shook me, coming from a woman during this time period. Little did she know that so much of what she wrote then could resonate with me now. There are too many lines to comment that I will quote or call back to, but the one at the end of this paragraph was enlightened and savage. Her whole voice through the essay is to show that for the idea about women until now has been one sided and controlled by men. Through her piece here, she is systematically break down each sexist block that man has set in her way. I absolutely loved it.
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January 18, 2018 at 5:02 pm
See in context
January 18, 2018 at 8:57 am
January 18, 2018 at 6:50 am
January 18, 2018 at 4:23 am
January 18, 2018 at 3:43 am
January 17, 2018 at 11:08 pm
January 17, 2018 at 4:43 pm
April 27, 2018 at 2:08 pm
This poem emphasizes the cyclical qualities of life. This stanza acknowledges the transition from the innocence of youth into a complicated older society. It demonstrates how happiness and youth are fleeting. In the previous stanza we are told about a carefree old man. He demonstrates how in our old age we might return to the same wonderous joy of youth. Although the elderly might posess this same happy disposition, the still carry wisdom and pain with the memories of a complicated life. Many reminisce about the simplicity of being a young girl or boy where everything is exciting and new. It takes a realist perspective where, “The sun does descend,/And our sports have an end.” This poem demonstrates how neither happiness nor sorrow are permanent afflictions. The cycle continues with no true end in sight.
April 27, 2018 at 1:58 pm
In the final stanza we see that, while the narrator doesn’t truly move to the Lake Isle of Innisfree, he takes the isle with him in his thoughts, memory, and temperament. He is expressing how he will take refuge in his memory of the isle in order to live amongst society while embracing a feeling of peace and connection with nature. Even, “While [he stands] on the roadway, or on the pavements grey”, he is able to connect with the Isle in his , “deep heart’s core” and in his soul. This is a form of escapism, while he still allows himself to be somewhat entrapped by a materialistic society. He gives in to most social conventions while holding on to romantic ideals.
April 27, 2018 at 1:48 pm
This poem reminds me of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. The narrator desires to escape from society by living alone in nature. This is likely in response to an increasingly industrialized society. He glorifies nature and it’s peaceful qualities by describing the Lake of Innisfree with a natural supernaturalist perspective. This sort of ideal is expressed often throughout the arts and can be described as a romantic perspective.
April 26, 2018 at 1:51 pm
The final stanza in Dover beach is provoking in that Arnold speaks to lover about a dark and unhappy world. His is a realists perspective, likely in light of a declining faith in humanity and religion. This is a time, “Where ignorant armies clash by night”. In the dawn of industrialization conflict seems prevalent as society becomes materialistic. At this time society was fighting unaware over materialistic, and capitalistic reasons. Arnold has lost faith in humanity and struggles to move past, “The eternal note of sadness”. His is a romantic perspective where he looks at war, materialism, industrialization, and capitalism, as a true decline in humanity with no end in sight.
April 24, 2018 at 11:45 am
This poem exemplifies the transcendent ideals of writers in this period. “I’m happiest when most away” followed by, “I can bear my soul from its home of clay” suggests that the author finds happiness in spirit. She desires a freedom that comes with escaping the physical world before her. The, “home of clay” she speaks of is likely her physical body. In some religions a deity creates humans with clay. This poem is likely demonstrating escapism where the author would enjoy escaping reality if only in spirit. This is likely a response to industrialization which tends to strengthen attachment to the physical/material aspects of society.
April 24, 2018 at 12:13 am
Yes, definitely hearing your lover tell you they love you while meaning it is beautiful to the soul. Sometimes, though, feeling it is more important. The passionate intensity throughout the whole poem shows that she does need to hear it more than feel it. It soothes the soul to hear your lover telling you how they love you.
April 24, 2018 at 12:02 am
The forbidden fruit is indeed strong throughout the whole of the poem, I wholeheartedly agree. It seems that Laura is full of curiosity, but is that on the whole wrong? I think Lizzie’s warnings are what made Laura curious; a lot like the parent telling the teenager not to do something which in tern makes the teenager even MORE inclined to do it.
April 23, 2018 at 10:54 pm
This whole poem brings to mind an ending, as in a changing of the season; possibly a spring straight into winter. There is a loss and isolation feel to it, especially at the mention of Danae. I do love winter and I know now everyone does, which is why to me this feels like he’s writing about an ending of a beautiful spring.
April 23, 2018 at 9:52 pm
There are two phrases that stand out to me in this: train-oil breath and petitionary growl. I have no idea why, but the first thing that came to my mind is world weariness. Carlyle is excellently descriptive about this Hyperborean Bear, this Russian Smuggler. Carlyle is trying to explain to him that he is absolutely not interested and who can blame him? It’s only after he shows the Russian his pistols that the Russian backs off. An everlasting no? If the pistols hadn’t dissuaded him, Carlyle might have been involved in a Duel, which is not something he wanted.
April 23, 2018 at 8:54 pm
I, too, thought war when I read this. The hope he shows until the stanza you mentioned was palpable, but so is his despair.
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