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Her 1 Kalia Her, 0580430 Professor Sumner English 231, Section 102 07 December 2012 A Beacon of Light The

history of women is a journey of change and growth from early America through the early 19th century. The view on women has evolved from shadowing their husbands to fighting for their independence. This journey of change and growth credits towards women who marked their name in history and changed an aspect of life in the lives of women. Such women, whose names have defied the rules of age and time, live on through their works and speeches in which influenced women to uphold their rights. Anne Bradstreet, Phillis Wheatley, Sarah Margaret Fuller, Harriet Ann Jacobs, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Emily Dickinson are women who are related through the change in their lives revolved around the controversial engagement of feminism in education, equality, and the power of free will. Beginning in early colonial America, or the 17th century, the lives of women were very strict and conformed. Particularly in the New England towns, the way of life of the Puritans was an impact on the lives of women and their rights. Anne Bradstreet is a prime example of a Puritan wife struggling against the adversities of colonial New England and the Puritan norms. Anne Bradstreet was one of the few women who were well educated and could read and write in her time period. Her poems reflected her loneliness, thoughts, ideas, feelings, and fascination; however, it was very difficult for women, especially those who were Puritan belief, to express their voice because of the strict attitude and moral conduct towards women. Anne Bradstreet was

Her 2 one of the earliest women (along with Anne Hutchinson) in America to express feelings associated with feminism: Thus, by focusing on defenses of women like Anne Bradstreet’s “The Prologue” in The Tenth Muse or Anne Hutchinson’s retorts to John Winthrop during her civil trial, we employ a lens that focuses on ontology and definition—“I can write/reason/speak, even if you say I cannot”—in response to the most blatant attacks in ways that preclude seeing action even as we demand action for true “feminism.” (Harvey) Education was a very important aspect in the nature of feminism because women were uncommon from receiving proper education. Anne Bradstreet and Anne Hutchinson defied that law of women oppression and could read and write because of their background. Another amazing change in the lives of women in America was Phillis Wheatley. Wheatley was a slave but was well educated and wrote poems. It was naturally common for slaves to have little sense of education and the skill to read and write; however, Wheatley was encouraged by her slave owners and taught her the skills that crafts her pieces of works. Though she was an African slave woman, she was able to attain her freedom from slavery because of her talent to write poetry, “Phillis' popularity as a poet both in the United States and England ultimately brought her freedom from slavery on October 18, 1773,” (Women in History). The beginning acceptance of education for women was a first step in the change of lives of American women in attaining a sense of independence of the mind. Equality has been a debated topic in feminism from the beginning of fighting for the rights for women. Sarah Margaret Fuller is a prime example of a woman who wrote to inspire equality and independence for women. Her works reflected her ideas on the equality of men and

Her 3 women and how there is not one superior gender. In Woman in the Nineteenth Century, “There is no wholly masculine man, no purely feminine woman,” (Fuller 1834). During this time period, women were still oppressed, “At this time, women were the continual victims of social and economic discrimination. Upper- and middle-class women's choices were limited to marriage and motherhood, or spinsterhood. Both choices resulted in domestic dependency,” (Cruea). Though women such as Fuller published their works publicly (rather than Bradstreet who did not intend to publish her works), women still did not attain the equality and independence in which feminism (a movement that began to revolve during this time period) fought for. Though this time period jobs were open for women to take but women still were not viewed equal to men. Harriet Ann Jacobs and Sojourner Truth were both African women slaves who brought out the topic of freedom for slaves and the oppression and suffrage of African women slaves in slavery. These two women were influential during their time period and were the first African slaves to be truly acknowledged. From the 18th century to the 19th century, the fight for equality for women was adamant, “Evolving throughout the nineteenth century, the Woman Movement developed in response to women's dependent situation. It promoted a series of new images for women: True Womanhood, Real Womanhood, Public Womanhood, and New Womanhood,” (Cruea). The lives of American women were changing to a world where equality was hopeful and bright. The fight for equality is an important aspect not just for white women but also for African women slaves. The lives of Bradstreet, Hutchinson, Wheatley, Fuller, Jacobs, Truth influenced the fight for independence of women and changed the lives of women revolving around education, jobs, and the dream of freedom. Though these women were influential whether in the quill of the pen or the power of speech, women were slowly attaining the right to the power of

Her 4 free will. Harriet Beecher Stowe represents this image of free will because she freely wrote her inspirational novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin and possibly started the fires of the Civil War. It is because of Stowe that she was able to reach out to people and tell people of the hardships of slavery for African men and women, as well as the children of slavery. Women, since the beginning of time, were not viewed to have the right to speak their minds but instead shadow their husbands. This can be seen in Emily Dickinson’s poems because she expresses how lonely, isolated, and shadowed she is by her husband and the norms that bind her from her freedom. In Dickinson’s poem “Rearrange a “Wife’s” Affection!” she expresses her suffering as a wife to Jesus: Burden—borne so far triumphant— None suspect me of the crown, For I wear the “Thorns” till Sunset— Then—my Diadem put on. (13-16) The power of free will is not only applicable to the expression of feelings of a woman, but also their influence to go out beyond the traditional role of a home wife, “The Cult of True Womanhood laid the groundwork for the later development of feminism by crediting women with a moral authority which implicitly empowered them to extend their moral influence outside the home,” (Cruea). Stowe and Dickinson represent the change and fight for free will and the detachment of dependence on men. The topics of education, equality, and free will represent aspects of feminism. Though feminism did not truly start until the 19th century, the idea and spirit of feminism beliefs began back in the beginning of America of the 17th century. The lives of Bradstreet, Wheatley, Fuller, Jacobs, Truth, Stowe, and Dickinson are a journey of change for the future of women. These

Her 5 women exemplified knowledge, intelligence, wit, sacrifice, love, spirit, independence, equality, and free will which is endowed for not just only men but also women. As I look back upon each life of each woman I noticed that each one of them served a purpose in the fight for the free will and hope of equality for women. Each woman was powerful and influential in their own way whether through the rhythmical words of poems, inspirational novels, stories of experience, or the power of speech. The attitude towards woman changed as women began to realize that they, too, are equally important and special as men. These women changed not only their lives, but their words changed the lives of women of the future; their words were the beacon of light filled with hope for a new future to look forward to.

Her 6 Works Cited Cruea, Susan M. "Changing Ideals Of Womanhood During The Nineteenth-Century Woman Movement." Atq 19.3 (2005): 187-204. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Dec. 2012. Dickinson, Emily. “Rearrange a “Wife’s” Affection!.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Vol. B. Ed. Paul Lauter. 6th ed. Boston: Wadsworth, 2006. 1821-1843. Print. Fuller, Sarah M. “Woman in the Nineteenth Century.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Vol. B. Ed. Paul Lauter. 6th ed. Boston: Wadsworth, 2006. 1821-1843. Print. Harvey, Tamara. "Feminist Theory In Seventeenth-Century America." Early American Literature 44.2 (2009): 411-416. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Dec. 2012. Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Vol. A. 6th ed. Boston: Wadsworth, 2006. Print. Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Vol. B. 6th ed. Boston: Wadsworth, 2006. Print. Women in History. “Phillis Wheatley biography.” Lakewood Public Library. Web. 1 Dec 2012.