The Perfect Woman: Rousseau and Wollstonecraft

2066 words - 8 pages ✓ Expert Reviewed
VIEW DOCUMENT
Preview

If scholarship is done right, it is that which is done impartially. The topic of this paper, the perfect woman, written by a man, may give those with prejudgments a ready answer to it; without the due analysis required by it. Reading both authors now, it is easy to bash Rousseau with sexism and stamp Wollstonecraft with feminism. But such was not my task, rather I examined both with an unprejudiced eye to the best of my ability. Thus, I hope the same is reciprocated by my reader, and take my interpretations and criticisms with the same impartial mind. To begin, then, my argument, I assert that although Rousseau and Wollstonecraft effect disparate views on the best education for women, the supposed disagreement of their model of the perfect woman is specious; their concept of the human species and its purpose is truly in contention.
It is imperative to outline such mode of education regarded by each as the best to raise a woman. Since Wollstonecraft critiques much of Rousseau’s, I begin with his model. “Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the author of things; everything degenerates into the hands of man,” is the first line of Book I in Rousseau’s Emile or On Education (161). Emile is not a book for a social system of education, but one specifically for the “tender and foresighted mother, who [is] capable of keeping the nascent shrub away from the highway and securing it from the impact of human opinions”(162). Therefore, the mother is advised to “observe nature and follow the path it maps out to you” in the education of her children, the same nature which Rousseau has taken to educate the imaginary Emile and Sophie: the man and the woman; the future husband and wife. Therefore, in educating the perfect woman, the future wife of Emile, Rousseau argues for the education of the perfect mother and wife in accordance with nature. “It is not good for man to be alone,” Rousseau claims, and thenceforth proceeds to define and distinguish Sophie’s sex from Emile’s (531). “Everything not connected with sex, woman is man. She has the same organs, the same needs, the same faculties,” yet, he argues, “in everything connected with sex, woman and man are in every respect related and in every respect different” (531). Rousseau thus noticing that there are natural discriminants that “belong to the sex,” he outlines the “moral influence” that these differences and relations effect in considering a woman’s education (532). The first “moral relation” is that “one ought to be active and strong, the other passive and weak… [that] once this principle is established, it follows that woman is made especially to please man” (532). The second, he states, by making “herself agreeable to man instead of arousing him…arises attack and defense, the audacity of one sex and the timidity of the other, and finally the modesty and shame with which nature armed the weak in order to enslave the strong” (532). The third, he claims, is that “the stronger appears to be...

Find Another Essay On The Perfect Woman: Rousseau and Wollstonecraft

Rousseau And The Chains Of Culture

849 words - 3 pages All men are born equal, but even before taking his first step or uttering his first word, a baby understands that it is every man for himself. Human nature may be born good--pure, simple, and as innocent as the baby himself--but when left to survive in this world, societal influences will ultimately shape and twist it into something else entirely. ...

Marx (The Communist Manifesto) And Rousseau

2152 words - 9 pages The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Karl Marx examined the role that the state played and its relationship to its citizen’s participation and access to the political economy during different struggles and tumultuous times. Rousseau was a believer of the concept of social contract with limits established by the good will and community participation of citizens while government receives its powers given to it. Karl Marx...

Rousseau And The Phlosophes: Immanent Critique

1258 words - 5 pages Rousseau the CriticDespite his radical critique of Enlightenment, Jean Jacques Rousseau belongs to it. He remained loyal to the Enlightenment in two important ways, despite this disagreement over certain "fundamental" beliefs. The first was in his commitment to the authority of reason and its ability to help the thinker reach his conclusions...

Rousseau and Marx: The Radical Critics

1472 words - 6 pages Throughout history, each political view, philosophy, or theology created has been reviewed and criticized during its time. The Classical Liberal Tradition emerging from Feudalism has created critics too. Two critics, Rousseau and Marx criticize the Classical Liberal Tradition’s central elements and form their own argument and alternative to others of their time like Hobbes and Locke. The Classical Liberal Tradition key elements consist of...

The Perfect And The Innocent

1788 words - 7 pages Perfection is a house on it’s own, but innocence is the landscape around it. The author of Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger, tells an interesting story about a boy who has avoided his home after getting kicked out his fourth school. This boy, Holden Caulfield, loves perfection and innocence. Holden is a strange character, he makes a snowball, but can’t throw it, imagines the museum as a perfect place because things don’t change, daydreams...

The Fourth Revolution (An Analysis of the more radical idea between Jane Austen and Mary Wollstonecraft)

1013 words - 4 pages Rights of Women, page 917). Wollstonecraft states in these previous statements that men believe that women are incapable of pursuing the higher education of men. She goes on to say that although women’s education has improved, she still wants there to be large improvements in the educational abilities and opportunities for women. Secondly, Wollstonecraft says it straight forward that woman can be superior to their male counterparts. This is one of...

Rousseau On The Social Contract And The Equality Of Guy

954 words - 4 pages Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in his essay concerning the origins of the inequality of man, has a view of natural man and civil man that is markedly different than previous thinkers like Thomas Hobbes and John...

The Life And Philosophies Of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

841 words - 3 pages >The Social Contract in turn contributed to the conception of Western democracy. "In essence, Rousseau said that the people should have input on how their government is run." (Barr, A More Perfect Union)Rousseau was most definitely a profound thinker and one of the most notable philosophers to date. Not only did he express ideas that were thought to be drastic and extremely dissimilar, but those very ideas paved the way as to how we...

Augustine And Rousseau And The State Of Human Nature

2422 words - 10 pages Both Jean Jacques Rousseau and Saint Augustine present two distinct, yet co-related accounts of the human being and the consequences of unrestrained human desire. All were great philosophers of their time, who offered various standpoints concerning the state of...

Jean-Jacques Rousseau And The Essence Of Human Nature

1757 words - 7 pages essence of human nature, and adding facts based on man’s condition in society does not show man’s natural condition. The facts don’t matter for Rousseau because to understand the essence of human nature requires looking to how man is in a completely natural state. Since man is no longer in this state, to determine this state means ignoring how man is now and focusing on man’s traits in a state completely different than the one man is in now. This...

ROUSSEAU AND ALSO THE BATTLE AROUND FRENCH AND ITALIAN MUSIC

927 words - 4 pages In the mid-eighteenth century, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, one of the most important French philosophers of the time, wrote Lettre sur la musique francaise (Letter on French Music) in response to the musical debate pitting French music against Italian music. In the first part of this paper, an attempt will be made to explain both Rousseau’s argument for so heavily criticizing the music of his people and what elements of Italian music he prefers; in...

Other The Perfect Woman: Rousseau and Wollstonecraft Essays

The Perfect Woman Essay

1940 words - 8 pages Society and people on a whole demonstrates what a perfect woman should be like. The picture of a perfect woman in our society is demonstrated in advertisements, on different magazine covers, and for just about anything that a woman is featured in. Now my question is why the pressure is so heavily placed on females to be so perfect? Women are pressured in many aspects of their lives, like how they look, their emotions, and their role as a woman...

The Feminist Philosphoy and May Wollstonecraft

1847 words - 7 pages Fiercely independent and far from conventional Mary Wollstonecraft called for more equality between the sexes; she ignited the flame that would turn into the feminist movement we know today. Wollstonecraft was a key founder of feminist philosophy. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) stated her view that women should have a wider access to education, not taught to depend on their beauty. “A committed women’s liberationist cannot retire...

On Mary Wollstonecraft 'A Vindication For The Rights Of Woman' (1792)

1817 words - 7 pages eighteenth century Enlightenment philosophers, of which Wollstonecraft is a member, this faculty to reason entails freedom. Mankind is made human by a this-worldly, human capacity to reason, and the power to discriminate and choose among alternatives .Wollstonecraft took this argument a step further, however, when she argued not only for the rights of all men, but also for women's rights in 'The Rights of Woman'. Wollstonecraft outlines in this...

Rousseau And The "Government Of Poland"

903 words - 4 pages Throughout Poland during the late eighteenth century, many disputes over land and politics were occurring. During the years of 1771 until 1792, Poland had been partitioned three times. By 1792, Poland didn't even exist due to a poor army and no governmental structure. Finally, Poland was split up between Russia, Poland, and Austria. Rousseau sees...