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for Mary Astell's "A Serious Proposal to the Ladies"
According to the introduction, Mary Astell had her early writings supported financially
by what other author we are reading this term?
Astell’s goal in writing “A Serious Proposal
to the Ladies”?
Lecture or Handouts:
Identify the following characters: Mary Astell
- [A religious retirement]
- In the first paragraph, what
sort of structure does Astell want to found or build?
Who will have access to it?
- In the second paragraph, Astell
are no serpents to deceive you.” What or whom is
she thinking about in this passage? What biblical connotations
does this have? What Freudian connotations?
- In the third
paragraph, what cloud will the institution seek to “expel”?
in the fourth paragraph the connection between “blindness” and “will” that
- What does Astell see as the cause of
being “insipid” and “foolish”?
is Astell’s stance on women serving as preachers
or teachers at Church?
- What language does Astell say most
ladies already speak and read from their readings of
romances? What sort of
book does she suggest they read instead?
Passages for Identification/Discussion:
A. One great end of this institution [the religious
retirement] shall be to expel that cloud of ignorance which
custom has involved us in, to furnish our minds with a
stock of solid and useful knowledge, that the souls of
women may no longer be the only unadorned and neglected
B. For it is not intended she should spend her
hours in learning words but things, and therefore no
are necessary to acquaint her with useful authors.
since God has given women as well as men intelligent souls,
why should they be forbidden to improve them?
D. We pretend
not that women should teach in the church, or usurp authority
where it is not allowed them; permit us
only to understand our own duty, and not to be forced to
take it upon trust from others, to be agt least so far
learned as to be able to forming our minds a true idea
E. I know not how men will resent it to have
their enclosure broke down, and women invited to taste
of that tree of
knowledge they have so long unjustly monopolized. But they
must excuse me, if I be as partial to my own sex as they
are to theirs, and think women as capable of learning as
men are, and that it becomes them well.