Comparing Unification in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and An Ode on the Popular Superstitions of the Highlands of Scotland
In A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft seeks to abolish repressive, orthodox conventions. She endeavors to abate manners that lacerate our society, that elevate man above woman, that prohibit equal exchange between the sexes. This unequal system of gender roles forms the basis of her argument. Wollstonecraft claims that civilization will not progress while half its population is subjugated. Arguing that progress in sexual commerce will balance the scales, she seeks simplicity in society through equality between man and woman. Through equal education, rejection of traditional expectations, but most importantly a dismissal of complex, debilitating emotions like love and passion, the sexes will overlap, becoming one, becoming unisexual. This simplification, this unisexuality, will clear the smoke between men and women, allowing them to return to a basis of reason upon which to build a better society. Wollstonecraft sees this unisexuality as the savior of human kind.
In An Ode on the Popular Superstitions of the Highlands of Scotland, Considered as the Subject of Poetry, William Collins seeks to abolish cultural stereotypes rending Scottish and English societies. Collins realizes that if unabated, the rising 18th century commercial torrent will consume Scotland. This flood will leave the north hopelessly backward, unable to unite with the southern commonwealth. The growing cultural and economic gap between north and south will leave England ripe for conflict. Collins also realizes that the British Empire can never be a great power unless these two warring factions unite. And so, Collins strips away modern differences between these two nations in order to unify them. Collins uses the spiritual traits of the ancient Celts, from which the Scottish and English both descend, as common ground upon which to build this reconciliation. Once bridged, these two separate cultures will form one solid society, simpler because of its unity, simpler because elements that once kept them apart now bring them together under one banner, a unicultural banner. Collins sees exchange of intellect, and a blending of Scotch and British literature as England's only salvation. He considers the raw energy of Scottish ballads, tempered by reason, as the basis of cultural commerce from which both parties can profit.
Collins is arguing for a uniculture just as Wollstonecraft is arguing for unisexuality. Both seek unification through simplicity. Wollstonecraft and Collins seek to harmonize society: an integration of sexes, an integration of cultures. They seek to tear down irrational, complex boundaries to begin commerce on simpler terms. Wollstonecraft argues for progress through sexual commerce and reason, Collins argues for progress through primitivism, using reason to tender solidarity. He sees a...