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The purpose of this assignment is to better understand the challenges faced by four women authors by comparing and contrasting their writing.  

For this project,  by responding as specifically as you can to the given questions about each text. Use complete sentences, but be concise. Provide brief supporting quotes, including parenthetical citations of page numbers, for each point you make.

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Comparison/ Contrast of Nonfiction Manifestos by Women

Mary Wollstonecraft’s “Introduction” to A Vindication of the Rights of Woman;

Virginia Woolf’s excerpt from A Room of One’s Own (Shakespeare’s Sister);

Adrienne Rich’s “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision”;

Alice Walker’s “In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens.”

Mary WollstonecraftVirginia WoolfAdrienne RichAlice Walker
What obstacles for women writers, intellectuals, or artists does she address?
If she refers to any of the other four, what does she achieve by doing so?
What remedies or reactions does she propose on behalf of women?

Alma Vargas

February 7, 2016

Locey, K.

EH245 Comparison/ Contrast of Nonfiction Manifestos by Women

1. Mary Wollstonecraft’s “Introduction” to A Vindication of the Rights of Woman;

2. Virginia Woolf’s excerpt from A Room of One’s Own (Shakespeare’s Sister);

3. Adrienne Rich’s “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision”;

4. Alice Walker’s “In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens.”

Mary WollstonecraftVirginia WoolfAdrienne RichAlice Walker
What obstacles for women writers, intellectuals, or artists does she address?Wollstonecraft addresses the issue that women are seen more as beautiful objects instead of actual humans that are part of the human race. She writes, “I have turned over various books written on the subject of education, and patiently observed the conduct of parents and the management of schools; but what has been the result?—a profound conviction that the neglected education of my fellow-creatures is the grand source of the misery I deplore; and that women, in particular, are rendered weak and wretched by a variety of concurring causes, originating from one hasty conclusion” (Wollstonecraft, paragraph 1). Wollstonecraft believes that the lack of education in women has deprived them of their real value and because of it they stand no chance to succeed in our current society.Woolf addresses the struggle women intellects faced due to the lack in education and financial independence that they never received. She states, “But by no means possible could middle-class women with nothing but brains and character at their command have taken part in any one of the great movements which, brought together, constitute the historian’s view of the past” (Woolf, p. 240). Women of the middle-class did not have the money to be independent or make a difference through writing fiction which in turn caused them to suffer while also depriving them of a voice in history.Rich addresses the labor that women will have to endure in order to change their perspective on who they really are after seeing their identity through men’s point of view. She writes, “Until we can understand the assumptions in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves. And this drive to self-knowledge, for women, is more than a search for identity; it is part of our refusal of the self-destructiveness of male-dominated society” (Rich, p. 983). She explains that this fight to know ourselves is not just for an identity but a way to fight back for independence in a society where male thought has influenced us the most.Walker beautifully addresses the topic of how our Mothers can be artists even in the most simple and unique ways. She writes, “I hear again the praise showered on her because whatever rocky soil she landed on,she turned into a garden” (Walker, p. 1302). Her mother had an incredible gift to make something beautiful out of what was not so beautiful with her talent to grow flowers. It was an artistic gift that she, as well as others, learned to appreciate even after her death.
If she refers to any of the other four, what does she achieve by doing so?N/AN/ARich mentions “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf in her writing and relates to the tone of anger being held back as Woolf explains how Shakespears sister would have struggled to become a writer like her famous brother. She writes, “And I recognized that tone. I had hear it often enough, in myself and in other women. It is the tone of a woman almost in touch with her anger, who is determined not to be angry, who is willing herself to be calm, detached and even charming in a roomful of men where things have been said which are attacks on her very identity” (Wich, p. 985). Woolf could have let her anger get to her but then she probably would have lowered herself to the same level as those angry men who scorned women intellectuals and Rich can definitely sense that and relate to it from rereading her story after some years.Walker mentions Woolf’s “A Room Of One’s Own” in her writing to emphasize that, no matter where you come from, all women have suffered from the lack of freedom to truly find their talent and art. She writes, “Yet genius of sort must have existed among women as it must have existed among the working class. [Change this to ‘slaves’ and ‘the wives and daughters of sharecroppers.’]” (Walker, p. 1301). She believes the women of all times and all around the world have been held back and were not allowed to express themselves through the traditional types of art.
What remedies or reactions does she propose on behalf of women?Wollstonecraft suggest that women should be educated and confident instead of being naive and ignorant in order to be appreciated as a whole. Wollstonecraft states that “Many individuals have more sense than their male relatives; and, as nothing preponderates where there is a constant struggle for an equilibrium, without it has naturally more gravity, some women govern their husbands without degrading themselves, because intellect will always govern” (Wollstonecraft, paragraph 16). She believes that intellect makes more of a difference and overrules gender in this world.Woolf believes that women should fight for the freedom to write and not be held back by what they do not have in comparison to men. She writes, “But I maintain that she would come if we worked for her, and that so work, even in poverty and obscurity, is worth while” (Woolf, p. 244). Women did face financial and educational obstacles but to Woolf it was more important to try and fight for the dream of being able to write than to not try at all.Rich believes that if women were to really express the anger that they feel they would finally be able to become great writers, men and women alike. She writes, “I think we need to go through that anger, and we will betray our own reality if we try, as Virginia Woolf was trying, for an objectivity, a detachment, that would make us sound more like Jane Austen or Shakespeare” (Rich, p. 993). Allowing those emotions to finally come out will allow female intellectuals to write out of their true thoughts instead of emotions which can hinder their purpose for writing in the first place.Walker believes that women should appreciate all that their mothers do for them because it is an art in itself to be a mother who can leave such an impact and legacy. She writes, “For her, so hindered and intruded upon in so many ways,being an artist has still been a daily part of her life. This ability to hold on, even in very simple ways, is work black women have done for a very long time” (Walker, p. 1302). Her mother may not have been the typical artist you see but she did have the art to make her world beautiful with flowers and role modeling her strength to endure in hard situations.

Gilbert, Sandra, and Susan Gubar. The Norton Anthology of Literature By Women: The Traditions in English. 3rd ed. Vol. 2. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2007. Print.

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