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Women Writers, Sept. 25

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Grace Kehler

September 25 - Makes a call for autonomy and freedom; her main argument is contented on one tenant - truth must be common to all for freedom. A freedom to and a freedom from – arbitrary constraints placed upon the citizens based on gender are pointed out, leaving women uninformed and subjugated. o Freedom to make choices and to evaluate social morals, morality and social placements. Getting beyond mere decorum; trying to engage the matters of justice that repeatedly concern society. o Talks about psychosomatic deformation of mind and body: the accoutrements of middle class femininity were restraining and uncomfortable, hindering movement and damaging the body – the body became misshapen by artifice, Wollstonecraft takes this into the psychosomatic, linking that the mind was also becoming misshapen by artifice.  References the Orientalist mentality that is present in Britain – foot binding as compared to the corset, misshaping the body and with similar reasoning and ideals backing it. Caroline Norton: the granddaughter of Richard Sheraton, famous playwright, Member of Parliament. - As Wollstonecraft points out, the middle class daughter is encourages only to rise through marriage, with discouragement of independent activity, Caroline lives this criticism. Not being a conventional woman, with a honed critical opinion and voice, and a gift for sarcasm gave her no proposals other than George Norton. o Their marriage brought out that the woman’s self was almost always tied to the private sphere. Caroline, being a more educated liberal oriented woman, quickly superseded, in intellect, her husband’s conservative mentality. o He became rapidly physically and verbally abusive. His intellectual and social inferiority set up a deeply abusive relationship, because Norton could not match or dominate her in argument or conversation, he resorted to physical abuse. Beating her body was a way of keeping her tied to her physical frailty, which leaves her powerless – the beaten and battered body represents the mind.  She explodes the notion of the middle class home as sanctuary.  Mostly a class based discussion which Caroline Norton relocates to the upper middle class. o George stole her children away to Scotland, closed their home to her, and instigated a civil law suit against Lord Melbourne, then Prime Minister, for criminal conversation (a sexual misdemeanor by which a wife’s alleged lover could be sued in court for deteriorating the husband’s property).  Battle about corporeality: the suit made the woman in question visible insofar as a sexual object to the men involved. She cannot give ev
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