The National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) was a major organization responsible for several courageous efforts in the promotion of women’s rights, notably the movement to ratify the 19th Amendment in 1920. Elizabeth Cady Stanton served as the first president of the NAWSA and a significant figure of the feminist movement. At the Women’s Rights Convention in 1848 Stanton delivered her momentous resignation speech entitled “The Solitude of Self.” Addressing her audience, Stanton delivers an inspiring and rhetorically eloquent speech. She uses metaphors and logical interpretation to provide her audience with the knowledge and understanding of true equality. The following essay details the effective attributes and distinct style of her appeals.
Stanton effectively engages her audience from the beginning for her speech by immediately revealing her purpose. She expresses the value of each individual person, based not only on legal rights but on the basis of each person functioning in solitude from one another. As she continues her address, she educates her audience on the meaning of individuality and how it relates to the fundamental rights of American citizenship. A woman has her own rights, her own happiness, and her own life; feminism embodied this concept. The feminist movement proposed that women be treated more than secondary citizens, more than just a wife and a mother, and more than her husband’s possession. Stanton’s vision was for women to be educated and equally active members of society.
Stanton’s passion carries a resolute tone throughout her speech. Well-read and resourceful, she references popular authors of her time to relate to the literate and well-educated people in her audience. Stanton uses the words trammel and desolation to describe the effect that injustice has on women. Additionally, her use of omniscience and ambition demonstrate optimism regarding the level of ability and enthusiasm women possess in becoming equal members of society. The clarity of structure throughout her speech is muddled but deliberate. Rather than using a traditional approach to her audience, Stanton uses her supporting points, metaphors, and clever references to guide listeners to her insightful perspective. Referencing the Bible, she utilizes an excerpt to suggest past rationale for the concern of solitude stating “Bear ye one another’s burdens… how few the burdens are that one soul can bear for another” (Stanton, 5).
From a religious perspective, Stanton appeals to the Protestant ethic of the American public. The Protestant ethic teaches each faithful servant to take control of their own individual conscience and judgment (Stanton, 4-5). Furthermore, considering the children of each man and woman in her audience, Stanton stresses the innocence and vulnerability of the child who has to progress through the world alone and on their own merits. This appeal emphasizes the familial dynamic of Americans who cherish their children and raise...