Suppressed Passion

Equiano and Browning both share in a slavery, Equiano in literal slavery, Browning in a veiled slavery.  These two people had a burning desire for freedom.  Equiano’s “heart burned (Page 234, 5th edition)” to be a freeman, to make a living for himself.  He held a secret heartfelt desire for freedom.  At one point he nearly obtained his freedom, yet he was sold back into slavery. His heart was “ready to burst with sorrow and anguish (Page 235, 5th edition)” upon this betrayal.  However, Browning wrote a fictional poem using a character named Aurora Leigh to depict Browning’s own life.  Browning uses the phrase “restless as a nest-deserted bird (Line 43, Page 1156)” to describe how she felt at a young age.  She desired to write poetry, which in that day was typically reserved for men.  Her passion for writing poetry was suppressed when she was taught by her aunt.  She notes that it was similar to “A wild bird scarcely fledged, was brought to her cage.(Line 310, Page 1159)”  This same bird, which depicts her desire to be free, was suppressed in her education.  Both these authors felt a deep passion for freedom of revolution.

These two writers assisted in changing public opinion, Equiano in freeing slaves, Browning in equality for women.  These writers depict that revolution does not just spring from a need, but it springs from a passion.  Revolution springs from the deep desire of the heart.  It has an emotional drive to it.  It brings a heated passion; when suppressed the passion grows.  “I kept the life thrust on me, on the outside (Line 477, Page 1162)” explains Browning.  Even though she despised her aunt’s teaching, she kept her compressed passion on the inside.  When this passion is released, it is similar to a fireball of emotion violently being released.  “All within my breast was tumult, wildness, and delirium (Page 238, 5th edition)” exclaimed Equiano when he finally bought his own freedom.

Works Cited:

Olaudah Equano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, The Longman Anthology of British Literature, 5th Edition,  Volume 2A, Pearson, 2012.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Auora Leigh, The Longman Anthology of British Literature, 4th Edition,  Volume 2B, Pearson, 2012.


“A Vindication of the Rights of Women” Blog Post James Hale

Written during a period of revolution and uncertainty in Europe, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft argues for drastic change in British society to end the suppression of women. The most revolutionary component of Wollstonecraft’s writing was her objection to the sentiment that people should follow the orders of others without thought. She argues that “every profession, in which great subordination of rank constitutes its power, is highly injurious to morality” (Wollstonecraft 294). Correlating to the previous argument, she creates the example, along with others, that “a standing army … is incompatible with freedom; because subordination and rigour are the very sinews of military discipline” (Wollstonecraft 294). In the conclusion of her argument, she states “that the character of every man is … formed by his profession” (Wollstonecraft 295). Additionally, because of this “society … should be very careful not to establish bodies of men who must necessarily be made foolish or vicious by the very constitution of their profession” (Wollstonecraft 295). Through being molded by their profession to take orders without thought, men of those types of professions would never question why their society was oriented in its state; in a state that suppresses women and many others. A non-violent revolution for women’s rights could not succeed with the majority of the populous accepting society for how it was and viewing change as a danger to their way of life; with them never wondering if or how: society could change to become more inclusive for women, and what benefits may come of such a shift. If people refuse to change their worldview, no significant changes can be made in any society.

The sentiment of following orders was more detrimental to women during Wollstonecraft’s time than it was to men. Referencing her previously mentioned example regarding the military: “Like the fair sex. The business of [officers’] lives is gallantry.—They were taught to please, and only live to please. Yet … they are still reckoned superior to women” (Wollstonecraft 298). Wollstonecraft views the actions of military personal and women in English society as similar in that both are meant to satisfy their superiors; however, she opines men are not seen as lesser for following orders while women are. Wollstonecraft’s piece is revolutionary in that it urges people to consider why their society is in its current state, and to understand there is no fundamental difference between men and women that would prevent women from making a significant contribution to English society.

“A Vindication Of the Rights of woman” (1792), Mary Wollstoncraft

What is a significant way that Wollstonecraft’s vindication of the Rights of Woman is revolutionary?

I think one of the ways that Wollstonecraft’s vindication of the Rights of woman is significant is how she advocates for a reform of women’s education. Wollstonecraft claims that women’s education has prepared women to be dutiful, docile wives and mothers, and that while men’s education prepares men for life in the real world, women’s education only prepares them for what men think women should aspire to be. Wollstonecraft states, “I attribute these problems to a false system of education….who considering females rather as women than human creatures have been more anxious to make them alluring mistresses than affectionate wives and rational mothers.” What I interpreted this quote to mean is that men’s skills determine their value, and in turn earn them respect. Whereas qualities such as beauty and love determine a women’s value, and those qualities is what earns her respect, because a woman is not viewed as an equal ”human creature”, but as an object of man’s affection. Wollstonecraft is saying that women’s virtue should also be determined by their skills and nobility instead of trivial qualities like beauty and love.

Wollstonecraft also states that “for the sake of woman’s dignity she should be allowed to earn a living and support herself.” This is a refute of society’s view of women during this time, which was that the sole purpose of the creation of women was to fall in love with a man, and that the man’s assumed job is to take of the woman. While this may seem like a golden system, in reality this isn’t as great a system as it seems, because it puts unnecessary pressure and expectations on men by creating a toxic masculinity of men, and women should be able to have their own identities and be able to support themselves, that should be a women’s right. This view of women is also revolutionary because during this time men were the only gender that were seen as worthy to have a job, by asserting that women had the right as well to make their own living and support themselves is placing women on the same accord as men which was revolutionary during the 19th century.

A Vindication for the Rights of Woman

I think that Wollstonecraft is revolutionary in this piece not only by creating a convincing argument but doing so in a way that is less than formal and even a little funny at times. To explain, the way Wollstonecraft presents some of her points in a casual or sarcastic tone is revolutionary because it just wasn’t how an author and especially a woman author trying to prove a point should have written. For example, she says “I presume rational men will excuse me for endeavouring to persuade them to become more masculine and respectable.” This way of writing is more likely to get people’s attention and it is certainly effective. The author herself explains “I shall disdain to cull my phrases or polish my style; I aim at being useful.” Her style of writing is in itself a small rebellion against the conventions of writing at the time and embodies her whole argument.

Wollstonecraft is also very fair in her sarcasm, meaning everyone got some words from her. She says to women in general “My own sex, I hope, will excuse me if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces.” Once again she is being revolutionary not only through her words but by how she refuses to censor herself even for her own sex. Even abstract concepts like love aren’t free from her reign of terror. She says “To speak disrespectfully of love is, I know, high treason against sentiment and fine feelings.” She evens attacks the ancient concept of love and that is very revolutionary. Her tone in this piece is useful for telling the reader how much she cares about this topic and how little she cares if she hurts someone’s feelings along the way.

An Outraged Mary

In 1792, a state-supported system of public education, for men only, was proposed by the French minister for education. Leaving behind a sense of betrayal for everything the revolution stood for, it seems the French revolution’s promise to redress the wrongs of the past has been broken.

An Outraged woman, Mary Wollstonecraft (a force to be reckoned with), responded with A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Wollstonecraft’s proceeded to argue upon the foundation of one, simple principle:

“… if she be not prepared by education to become the companion of man, she will stop the progress of knowledge and virtue; for truth must be common to all, or it will be inefficacious with respect to its influence on general practice.”

Wollstonecraft basically suggests that education should be accessible through national establishments as private education is confined to only elite class. She voices her diehard idea of educating girls with boys. She also suggests that girls should be taught things such as anatomy and medicine in order to raise them up as rational nurses of their infants, parents and husbands. Living in men’s society, Wollstonecraft clearly realized that her suggestions can cause a fuss; whereas later, she assures that she has no desire whatsoever to raise a generation of independent and unattached women like herself, but that she does seek to develop wiser and more virtuous mothers.

It is very crucial to understand that even two hundred years after Wollstonecraft’s contribution, this debate is still alive in modern arguments about feminism. Considering Wollstonecraft’s work was never fully appreciated by the women of the 18th century, despite how vital her pieces were for Feminists, it’s clear that her thoughts were revolutionary for her period and more suited to the society of the late 19th to early 20th century.

Should the classification of men and women as different be denied?

Considering this is a question still debated and widely discussed tells us that the question is not yet off the table. These arguments show themselves, along with other things, in modern concerns about the rising frequent rates of divorce and of men who leave their families, of super-moms, of teenage pregnancies, of the need for men to be in control of the family, and so on.



“A Vindication of the Rights of Women”

In “A Vindication of the Rights of Women,” Mary Wollstonecraft addresses the physical and emotional immaturity and inferiority of women that originates from the male desire and power that is embedded into society. As a result, a change in society is needed in order for there to be equality of power between the sexes, as well as proper recognition of women and their role in society. Elaborating on the immaturity of women, women are raised as docile creatures and continue to be treated as such their whole life. This is a result from the instruction “written by men of genius,” which promotes the idea that women’s purpose is to fall in love and be taken care of by their husband (291). Instruction given to women was “to acquire personal accomplishments” such as embroidery, singing, and dancing, and nothing that allows a person to flourish in society by understanding their sense of individuality and humanity. This education as, Wollstonecraft states, gives “appearance of weakness to females” and makes women shallow, which is similar with soldiers who are given orders that must be complied with no thought to their virtue (297). Therefore, women–like soldiers–are made into superficial beings who are denied the ability to see more of life because the principles that have been stored into there minds with no ability to grow away from them.

The education that Wollstonecraft demands for women is having a “well stored mind” that would “enable a woman to support a single life with dignity” (301). However, Wollstonecraft asserts that women not only need the instruction of individuality, but society as a whole since everyone should be able to mature and learn how to think in reason (297). So, teaching people to be individual thinkers and not just observe the surface of the principles as embedded by the public, but to take charge of their own thoughts will change society. This need for change is revolutionary, making it a public trouble that society needs to address for the sake of society moving forward.  The demand for change of society’s superficial principles that are forcefully taught allows both sexes to be equal in reasoning and greatly improve fundamental human development in society.

To the Lighthouse

Time is a recurring theme throughout Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. In Part I (The Window), Woolf stretches time, devoting the first 124 pages to a single day. This reflects the desire of some of the characters for time, that day, to stand still.  Mrs. Ramsay in particular wishes for them to always be together as they are in the dinner scene and for her youngest children, Andrew and Cam, to never grow old and suffer as she has.

In contrast, in Part II (Time Passes) ten years are compressed into approximately 20 pages. The passage of time is reflected by the deterioration of the house on the beach. While only a few words are devoted to the lives of its former inhabitants, the house’s increasingly poor state reflects their own experience over this period. The series of tragedies in the background of WWI are sudden and confusing. Their presentation in a short, objective, bracketed form disrupts the narrative and generates this effect. These years and events are then condensed into a few pages as they are slowly processed over many years. This reflects the way in which the world attempted to process the events and implications of WWI. In its aftermath a strong sense of confusion, shock, and disillusionment was felt. Nature seemed disrupted, as it is around the abandoned house: “…(for night and day, month and year, ran shapelessly together) in idiot games, until it seemed as if the universe were battling and tumbling, in brute confusion and wanton lust aimlessly by itself” (134-5). This processing was extremely gradual. Likewise, Woolf’s compression of ten years into 20 pages suggests that little changed over the course of these ten years as the characters, most likely, grappled with these sudden tragedies and, to some extent, the disruption of nature itself (the loss of the constant, binding force of Mrs. Ramsay in many ways represents this disruption of nature in their lives). Time moved on, but many people did not and so the narrative focuses on the state of nature and the beach house as opposed to the characters.