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“The education of women” by Daniel Foe and “A Vindication of women’s rights” by Marry Wollstonecraft

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In “The education of women” by Daniel Defoe, few rhetorical devices were used; one of them was use of analogy. Defoe states “the soul is placed in the body like a rough diamond, and must be polished, or the luster of it will never appear”. Defoe uses this analogy to show that even if you are valuable (diamond) you need to be polished up, as in educated to stand out (shine). Defoe also uses series of rhetorical questions, one of them are “how much worse is a wise woman than a fool?” and “what has the women done to forfeit the privilege of being taught”. Defoe dismisses several reasons for women being kept in ignorance.

He argues that why should women not be educated and smart as it is better for women to be smart than being uneducated. At the end, he also uses an anecdote to show his man idea how education is important to a woman, “for I don’t know when they do right or wrong. I had more need go to school, than be married….’Tis a thing will me more easily granted than remedied”. Defoe says how continuing your education is better than marriage and women should explore this option as this will lead to good life and self-respect.

Mary Wollstonecraft also uses few rhetorical devices in her “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” such as a historical allusion when she mentions that previous books that have been written on female rights should not be ignored and she also says “…written by men of genius, have had the same tendency as more frivolous productions; and that, in the true style of Mahometanism, they are treated as a kind of subordinate beings, and not as a part of the human species” She also presents a counter argument explaining why women should want to be more masculine.

She states that if women are more masculine they won’t be as inferior to men. A rhetorical question is also used when the author says the only way women can rise in the world is my marriage and even after that, it is just an act as both act as children and “they dress; they paint, and nickname God’s creatures.- Surely these fit beings are only fit for a seraglio!” and she asks “Can they be expected to govern a family with judgment, or take care of the poor babes whom they bring into the world”. She also uses an example at the end when she says that women are so degraded “by mistake notions of female excellence” that such weakness creates a tendency of men to control and put down woman.


Odell, Beers. Elements of Literature;Sixth Course.

U.S: Holt, Renart and Winston, 1998

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