Mary Wollstonecraft vs. Jean Jaques Rousseau Essay

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Allison Link
Global History 2 Honors – McIvor
Enlightenment Essay

The late 18th century can be known as the historical period of the Enlightenment. During this time, society was undergoing drastic changes that would impact people even today. These changes were known as “reforms,” and played a big role in politics and ruling during this time period. One of the bigger reforms of this time was that which would grant women a higher education and place them in a position closer to their male counterparts. The enlightenment authors, Jean Jacques Rousseau and Mary Wollstonecraft, took part in a debate in which they argued about the purpose and education of women. In an article recently written in The New York Times by Nicholas
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While men who read his writings might agree with Rousseau, the majority of women will find his works distasteful and biased. He also only used his own opinions in his arguments, as opposed to incorporating those of other Enlightenment authors or authors on the subject. Because Rousseau only used his own biased opinions and directed them towards the male audience, what he wrote was not entirely persuasive. Mary Wollstonecraft’s, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, is another example in which an Enlightenment author exhibits their opinion on the education and purpose of women. Contradictory to Rousseau’s writing, Wollstonecraft believed that women have a greater purpose than to serve man, and that is to be independent and care for others while they also care for themselves. She stated that unlike in Emile, women should be seen as and act independently and take care of themselves. She believed that women are not on this Earth for the purpose of serving men, and that they can stray away from these duties if they wish. Education wise, Wollstonecraft believed that a woman should not be limited to caring for their families, but may choose to pursue a higher learning, such as nursing and healing. But, she also said that caring for their children and husbands is not to be seen as a lesser job that women take part in, and that it is to be respected. Although Wollstonecraft incorporated some

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