WollStonecraft 2/10  Marcela, Mitch, Maria

1. What is the nature of the argument?

Parental Affection / Duty to Parents

This portion of the book is addressed to parents and children.

Challenging the status quo:

  • how parents, especially moms, should bring up their children
  • however girls are treated as children, they will treat their future children when they grow up the same way
  • by attempting to change how children are brought up, this will help solve the problem of poor parents
  • reciprocal duty: exists between parent and child- The parent who pays attention to helpless infancy can require the same attention when “feebleness of age” comes upon him.

2. Who/What is the argument against? - Identify the targets, other authors or systems of thought that this author is bent on challenging.

Parental Affection / Duty to Parents

  • Rousseau - “How can they leave the nursery for the camp?” 154
  • Moms
    • Women in particular either desire their children’s affection and shower them with gifts or are neglectful of their parental duties.
    • Moms should work to expand the understanding of their children through reason.
    • reciprocal duty
  • Education system
  • Status quo of the relationship between men and women

3. What is the argument?

Property is the end, and men neglect their duties and are treated as demigods. Religion is separated from morality, yet men wonder why the world is filled with oppressors. There must be more equality in society or morality will never prevail over immorality and ignorance. In other words, as long as we have a patriarchal gendered society reason would not prevail and to achieve anything we need reason.

“The conclusion which I wish to draw, is obvious; make women rational creature, and free citizens, and they will quickly become good wives, and mothers; that is -- if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers. “ (187).

“The reciprocal duty between parent and child, may be given in a few words. The parent who pays proper attention to helpless infancy has the right to require the same attention when the feebleness of age comes upon him?” 161

- “Why should the minds of children be warped as they just begin to expand, only to favour the indolence of parent, who insist on the privilege without being willing to pay the price fixed by nature?” (164).

- “heaven seems to command the whole human race. It is your interest to obey me till you can judge for yourself: and the Almighty Father of all has implanted an affection in me to serve as a guard to you whilst you reason is unfolding: but when your mind arrives at maturity, you must only obey me, or rather respect my opinions, so far as they coincide with the light that is breaking in your own mind.”163

Page 192: relationship of God and reason

Page 201: Virtue must be nursed by liberty

Thesis of the book? Bottom paragraph of pg. 202

Let women be free → this will change the position in society women have been placed in and continue to perpetuate - pg. 203

3a. What does the author regard as the distinctive about the Modern Age

-Moral cause of angers from mothers towards their daughters, but how can they be angry if daughters were brought up to obey parents and husbands. If an “accidental cloud” were to happen then why overstressed it?

-Women in particular either desire their children’s affection and shower them with gifts or are neglectful of their parental duties.

- “...they love their relatives, because they are beloved by them, and not on account of their virtues” (165)

- Women are a natural consequence of their education and station in society (203)

3b. How does the author address liberty, equality, and fraternity?

“... When they are obliged to submit to authority blindly, their faculties are weakened, and their tempers rendered imperious or object”. Wollstonecraft, believes that both boys and girls need freedom? But what does this freedom include?

- True. for they become tyrants ; for it is not rational freedom, but a lawless kind of power resembling the authority exercised by the favourited of absolute monarchs, which they obtain by devising means” (164)

- “Women have not any inherent rights to claim” (204)

4. What are the strengths of the author's argument?

- Wollstonecraft goes on and on describing women as self-absorbed, lacking reason, and available to  the wants of men at their request. This  type of  criticism and her near misogynistic tone regarding women may have been the type of controversy needed to get people reading.

She makes her argument against both sexes, not just females.

  • Appeals to reason to illuminate how both sexes put women in the position they are in.

5. What are the weaknesses of the author's argument?

Changing her mind about boarding school. At first Wollstonecraft fears that girls are first spoiled in the latter. 135. We’re also not entirely sure how familiar Wollstonecraft is with boys’ boarding schools, since she probably didn’t work in one.

Later she states how children’s thoughts are fixed with eager anticipation hopes.

  • Wollstonecraft seems to be going back and forth with what she wants education to look like.
  • The idea of wanting public and private education → how would this work?