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Womans Education According to Rousseau and Wollstonecraft Give without scruples a womans education to women see to it that they love the cares of their sex that they possess modesty that they know how to grow old in their mnage and keep busy in their house Jean Jacques Rousseau Emile The neglected education of my fellow-creatures is the grand source of the misery I deplore Mary Wollstonecraft A Vindication of the Rights of women The salons of Jean Jacques Rousseaus day greatly admired his theories including his advocation of breast-feeding and his concept of natural education Today he has enormous influence on accepted educational doctrines Rousseau describes his methods in Emile the story of a boys upbringing in natural state Admiring his sentiment Mary Wollstonecraft applauded Rousseaus scheme for Emile but deplored the neglect of Emiles perfect wife Sophie Her disappointment in Rousseau was a main influence on Wollstonecrafts best-known work A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Rousseau outlines his theories for the ideal education for women in Chapter V of Emile written between 1757 and 1761 These so contradict his plan for Emile that it becomes necessary to place them in the framework of his time and the particular prejudices of Rousseau Certainly he broke no ground regarding the topic of women Nearly a hundred years before Emile Mrs Makin published An Essay to Revive the Ancient Education of Gentlewomen In her Serious Proposal to Ladies of 1694 Mary Astell advocated a convent where serious-minded women might retire for study and contemplation In his Essay on Projects Daniel Defoe suggests an academy for women where they might study whatever they chose He observes as early as 1697 We reproach the sex every day with folly and impertinence while I am confident had they the advantages of education equal to us they would be guilty of less than ourselves1 As women and their education were very popular topics among the frequenters
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