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Rousseau vs Wollstonecraft on Women

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Compare/Contrast Essay: Rousseau and Wollstonecraft’s Views Of Women’s Role

	Mary Wollstonecraft’s views of women’s role in 
society is the complete opposite of Rousseau, as he 
states that through nature woman can and must only take 
care of the nest, Mary says that woman have the ability 
to take care of the nest and be useful to society at the 
same time and that it is man who has limited woman, not 
God.  
	Rousseau believes that women, through nature, have 
been endowed with the duty to give birth to and raise 
the child.  He states that because of the biological 
aspects of women their education must naturally be one 
oriented toward their duties, respectively care taking 
and domestic management.  Mary, although she agrees that 
it is woman’s duty to raise the child she also says that 
women are able to participate in society.  She explains 
that because women have been restricted by men, in 
activities, their view of the world is diminished and 
because of this they are not used to using Reason in 
their lives. Thus the only solution is education, only 
education can allow women to practice Reason and 
Understanding, and only through education will women be 
able to be active components of society. 
	Rousseau argues that men and women have different 
spheres, and so each must be educated so as to best 
fulfil that specific sphere.  Women, he believed, should 
be taught to comfort men and take care of the household. 
He thinks that the woman’s role in the family structure 
is essential because it holds the entire cell together. 
He said that if one teaches women to do more than that 
will infringe upon Nature, because nature gave them a 
certain duty.  Wollstonecraft said that because women 
are rational the principles that guide their life should 
be the same as the principles that guide men’s lives.