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A Woman of Standards

In: English and Literature

Submitted By rayeine
Words 1664
Pages 7
A Woman of Standards Traditionally considered a subservient sex, the female role has only recently been allowed to surface under the scrutiny of the public eye. In the decades before it, women are undermined and repressed by the men that govern their very essence of being. Men, according to Jean-Jacque Rousseau in his piece Émile, do not require the presence of a woman in his life to retain his position of power, yet by the “laws of nature” women without a man has no control over her own social situation (257). Literature in the both the Enlightenment and Romantic eras help illuminate these ideas by enforcing a significant emphasis on the role and dress of the properly educated female and how that affects, or cannot affect, their standing in society. Elaborating on his previous point, Rousseau points out that, “everything that characterizes sex should be respected as established by nature” (256). The differences in both temperament and character of men and women would likewise indicate how their education ought to be in a natural balance against each other, specializing in different but similar actions (Rousseau 256). To better reinforce his theory, Rousseau challenges mothers to “try to educate them [their daughters] like men. They will be quite willing. But the more they resemble men the less will be their power over men, and the greater their own subjection” (256). The more womanly a female is, the better off she will be. If she retains her proper role, she can only gain from it but anything outside her sphere of influence will ultimately result in failure. To put it simply, a woman should not find herself in a man’s position. These social roles commonly upheld by the upper class resist any influences to change. Due to the nature of her gender while she is allowed to undertake the same tasks as her male counterpart, any attempt in doing so will result in…...

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