Essay On Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Essay On Elizabeth Cady Stanton-84
Religious vocation as an escape for intelligent women was as much a psychological and physical alternative as a social alternative to the structures of the day.Not until the emergence of Enlightenment philosophies of the individual was a body of theory available that would give women a status of legal if not de facto equality in society. A theory of potential equivalency did not become practical in the Anglo-American world despite the occasional forays of essayists like John Stuart Mill or Mary Wollencraft.Stanton traces the negative forces in a woman's lifetime, from the lack of education and training in youth to dependence upon meager resources in old age.

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Stanton argues that women need the fullness of opportunity enjoyed by men because ultimately, "as an individual, she must rely on herself." Men can elect solitude if they wish and imagine it a form of self-reliance, but in fact men enjoy a comfortable net of security and safety in their monopoly of social, political, economic, and educational institutions.

They can fall back on them such that their experience of isolation and solitariness need not be profound or lasting, not to say debilitating.

On the contrary, they advocate an equivalency with men in every legal and social role, and saw women's historical solitude as an involuntary state in which women were denied the status enjoyed by men.

"The Solitude of Self" What makes the essay "The Solitude of Self" by Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) unusual is its philosophical premise that individuals are entitled to equality and social dignity not because of legal status but because they function in profound solitude one from another.

Not that these Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment theories were attempting to revive the solitary vocations as they were known in the Middle Ages.

Nor were they attempting to protect or foster a voluntary lifestyle of solitude among women.

"Such is the value of liberal thought and broad culture when shut off from all human companionship, bringing comfort and sunshine within even the four walls of a prison cell." So, too, it may be added, within the cell of the hermit or anchorite -- or the room of a modern solitary.

While the essay concludes by presenting anecdotal examples of women's sense of community participation and equality, the main thesis is far-reaching.

The author relates her interview with the Russian political activist Kropotkin, inquiring how he could endure long years in prison without books or pen.

He responded that he recalled all that he had read or learned and recreated this world of resources in his mind and heart, "a world no Russian jailer or czar could invade." Stanton argues that opportunities for learning can help us survive the most adverse conditions.


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