The Ideal Late 1700 Woman

Last Updated: 28 Jul 2020
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The Ideal late 1700 Woman Susanna Rowson and Judith Sargent Murray were women from the late 1700s who had their own image of the ideal woman. Susanna Rowson’s Charlotte: A Tale of Truth and Judith Sargent Murray’s On the Equality of the Sexes were written to educate, inform, and to guide women in the right path. Murray and Rowson hoped to change the way women were being seduced by men and the way they were viewed by society and themselves, Susanna Rowson and Judith Sargent Murray saw women’s roles in the early United States similar.

In the 1700s women had a basic education of reading and writing and most were trained to become mothers and house wives. Women’s job was to take care of the children at home, cook, clean, and do housework; they were kept from the world. They had no say in politics, government, or legal issues unless their husband allowed them to do so behind the scenes.

Susanna Rowson’s motive in writing Charlotte was pure, she wrote “If the following tale should save one hapless fair one from the errors which ruined poor Charlotte, or rescue from impending misery the heart of one anxious parent, I shall feel a much higher gratification in reflecting on this trifling performance, than could possibly result from the applause which might attend he most elegant finished piece of literature whose tendency might deprave the heart or mislead the understanding. ” Rowson wrote Charlotte to try to change the way young women were educated.

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I believe she wanted parents to teach their daughters that they should listen and pay attention to the advice her parents give her, but also to teach them of the consequences can come if they decide to go in their own path instead of what her parents had planned for her. Susanna Rowson apologized for her novel because everyone expected a happy ending but received the opposite. When Charlotte’s father was on his way for her from England, she passed away after she gave birth to her illegitimate daughter Lucy Temple.

Many questioned, why did Charlotte have to die? Rowson wrote, “The mind of the youth eagerly catches at promised pleasure and innocent by nature, it thinks not of the dangers lurking beneath those pleasures, till too late to avoid them. ” I believe the reason Rowson did this was to try to teach young women that there are pros and cons in every decision they make. Rowson’s intentions were to guide young women live the ideal life she believed was meant for a women in the late 1700s. Mademoiselle La Rue’s life was one she approved of; she “had eloped from a onvent with a young officer, and, on coming to England, had lived with several different men in open defiance of all moral and religious duties”. Even though La Rue had been with several men she was strong and never allowed men to stray away from her path. Mademoiselle had never been seduced by a man. Susanna Rowson’s believed in order for a young women to grow up and have the ideal life, she should not only listen to her parents but also do as they say. Women in the 1700s were only given a basic education and trained to be housewives.

Judith Sargent Murray’s On the Equality of the Sexes was written to give women the education they deserved and needed. Murray felt that women were capable of doing more than housework; she believed they could do the same as men if not to be better than them. To prove that women and men were equal and should be getting the same education she questions, “May not the intellectual powers be ranged under these four heads- imagination, reason, memory, and judgment? ” As the Enlighten women she gave evidence to everything she said or wrote. She proved that men and women had the same capability to imagine.

She wrote “but as proofs of a creative faculty, of a lively imagination”, Murray’s evidence that women had an imagination was gossiping. If women didn’t have an imagination how would they be able to come up with such interesting rumors and gossip? Murray goes on to say, “Are we deficient in reason? We can only reason from what we know, and if an opportunity of acquiring knowledge hath been denied us, the inferiority of our sex cannot fairly be deduced from thence. ” She is saying if they teach women physics, psychology, and other subjects besides the basics they can prove they have the same power of reasoning as men.

She then proves that women also have the power of memory, because women memorize stories and share them with others. Murray wrote, “Female would become discreet, their judgment would be invigorated, and their partners for life being circumspectly chosen, an unhappy Hymen would then be as rare as is now the reverse. ” She believed if women had the same education as men, women would be not only smart but also better wives. Murray believed that everyone was born equal but society taught them that they were different.

To prove that equality is given by nature she questions, “Will it be said that the judgment of a male of two year old is more sage than that of a female’s of the same age? ” She compared two year olds to prove that they are equal until they get to school. Once in school society doesn’t allow women to have the same opportunity to learn. They are automatically put in different schools where they are taught different material. She goes on to say “How is the one exalted and the other depressed by the contrary modes of education which are adopted! The one is taught to aspire and the other is early confined and limited. Women are limited and that is why they do not have the same knowledge as men do. She believed women should not only get educated on not being seduced by men but also felt that they should have the same education as men. Murray believed women should have the same opportunity as men in society. Women should be able to independently provide for themselves, but due to lack of education they were not allowed to do so. Murray brings religion into her essay when she writes, “our souls by nature equal to yours; the same breath of God animates, enlivens, and invigorates us”.

She proves that men are no different from women when they came into this world. God took the same breath into both men and women so what makes men better? Susanna Rowson and Judith Sargent Murray both intended to reach, like Rowson wrote, the “young and thoughtless of the fair sex”. When she wrote Charlotte: A Tale of Truth, she wanted to protect vulnerable young women from doing the wrong thing. She wrote, “Oh my dear girls—for to such only am I writing—listen not to the voice of love, unless sanctioned by paternal approbation: be assured, it is now past the days of romance. Rowson felt that women should know some of the basics to protect themself from rakes, and wanted to teach them to marry the right man. She felt as if young women were easily seduced by men. She warns the reader by writing “In affairs of love, a young heart is never in more danger than when attempted by a handsome young soldier. ” For example, Charlotte decided to rebel against her parents and became romantically involved with Montraville, a man her parents disapproved of. Charlotte was a young naive 15 year old girl that got seduced by an attractive man that promised “the world” to her.

He promised to marry her but instead, took her to New York, and then he abandoned her and their unborn child. Charlotte’s fate went bad when she decided to follow her heart instead of her parents. She was seduced and betrayed by the man she fell deeply in love with, this is what Rowson was trying to prevent in the lives of her young readers. In Part II of Judith Sargent Murray’s essay she wrote, “Praise is sweet to the soul; we are immediately intoxicated by large draughts of flattery, which being plentifully administered, is to the pride of our hearts the most acceptable incenses. In Murray’s essay she writes that women were seduced by men with their intellectuals. She felt that women should be educated on how not to be tempted when a man tried to seduce her. Rowson and Murray both believed that women should be educated on how to avoid falling into temptation and how to save their reputation. In the late 1700’s women were seen as the temptress and punished for seducing men. But why is it okay that men are allowed to tempt women and get away with it? In Charlotte, Rowson tries to inform everyone that men are the temptress, not women.

Charlotte falls for Montraville’s lies and betrayal because she had sympathy for him. Rowson stopped her story to put her input about women being too compassionate, “when once she has lost sight of the basis on which reputation, honor, everything that should be dear to the female heart, rest, she grows hardened in guilt, will spare no pains to bring ceeds from that diabolical spirit of envy”. Men know that once women start feeling sympathy for someone they drop the wall that they was there to protect them from becoming the fallen woman, Rowson and Murray wanted this to change.

Judith Sargent Murray and Susanna Rowson were smart women that wanted young women to be educated. They differed on their opinions on how much education a woman should have. Murray believed that women should have the same education as men, and Rowson believed there was a limit on the amount of education a woman should receive. Both believed that young women should be educated to the extent where they did not fall into temptation and be marked as a temptress. In their stories they gave proof of what they believed should be done and why.

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The Ideal Late 1700 Woman. (2018, Oct 16). Retrieved from

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