Education of Women in A Vindication of the Right of Women and Woman in the Nineteenth Century
In two centuries where women have very little or no rights at all, Mary Wollstonecraft and Margaret Fuller appear as claiming voices, as two followers of feminism. Two women separated by a century but united by the same ideals. In these male- dominated societies, these two educated women tried to vindicate their rights through one of the few areas where they could show their intelligence: literature. So, in the 18th century we find Wollstonecraft´s A Vindication of the Right of Women and in the 19th her successor Margaret Fuller’s Woman in the Nineteenth Century. Two books written with the same purpose: to vindicate the rights of women and to try to create a better situation for women, yet through two differing points of view, the difference of one century.
As there are too many points about the rights of women dealt with by these books, I am going to concentrate in one of these vindictive points: the education of women.
Throughout this paper, I am going to show how these two women wrote about women education from two different kind of feminism, what they thought about it and how they dealt with this subject.
During the 18th century there was little argument for civil and educational rights for women. There was more concern about racial matters than about women status and rights. When Mary Wollstonecraft wrote Vindication of the Right of Woman, she tried to fulfil this lack of civil and educational rights for women. This is a plea to give equality of opportunity to women. The education she promoted was a mixture of information and rational skills. She stresses the importance of educating both sexes together, something that was nearly impossible for that epoch: “ My observation on national education are obviously hits; but I principally wish to enforce the necessity of educating the sexes together, to perfect both…” (Wollstonecraft 293) She vindicated the same right to access of knowledge, to participate in the rights of mankind that men have: “To render mankind more virtuous, and happier of course both sexes must act from the same principle; but how can that be expected when only one is allow to see the reasonableness of it. To render also the social compact truly equitable… women must be allowed to found their virtue on Knowledge, which is scarcely possible unless they be educated by the same pursuits as men.” (Wollstonecraft 293) She put emphasis on physical health, insisted on exercise and play and suggested that all should study biology in order to be better parents: “In public schools women should be taught the elements of anatomy and medicine, not only to enable them to take proper care of their own health, but to make rational nurses of their infants…” (Wollstonecraft 298) She thought that men and women should be educated to a great degree by the opinions and manners of the society in which they live, here we understand...