Essay Sample on England's First Feminist Mary Astell

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1474 Words
Date:  2022-10-27


Marry Astell lives to be one of the most controversial writers that bravely articulated her ideology without fear of contradiction of beliefs and cultures of the society. In a literal work entitled, The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Astell takes a position as a "Tory proto-feminist" who fights for the rights of women and gender equality between men and women in a male-dominated society. In her work, Astell catalyzes revolt in women while demeaning the position which men subject their wives, in the marriage as their subjects. Indeed, in the works, Astell was majorly seditious and wanted to critique the social structure such that it provides for equality between men and women. The accusations made by Astell criticizers are right, in that, she wanted to destruct the developed masculine empire. Astell used marriage as a social structure to explain for the gender disparity; however, she failed to bear in mind that marriage's social positions for men and women had its establishment since historical time as such men will remain commanders of their family just as it was since the creation of man.

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When you are introduced to the works of Astell, first, you would think that she purposed to retrieve the rights, fundamental liberty, and privileges of women for the public good of the society. However, after a critical analysis of the political position of Astell as a feminist you establish that her intentions of avenging for the self-perceived humiliations that men subject their women to back at their homes. She expects that men are supposed to pay the equal price of submissiveness to their civil and ecclesiastical governors. Astell aligned the procedure through which she would achieve the revolution against the masculine empire, either by exhorting women against taking up the instruction from men or by instructing women to be submissive until they are all ready to fight against the male dominance (Greenblatt 3019). To exhibit her rogue intentions, she failed to convince women that they can claim the equal power in a family through dialogue; asking their men to be more lenient in treatment. Although she did not ask women to perjure against the biblical agreements of marriage, her intentions in any manner do not reflect intents to preserve the masculine empire.

In marriages, there is an imbalance of power between men and women based on the bodily strengths in which women ought to submit since they are quite weak in strengths; hence, they are forced with the circumstances to obey. Astell assertion on the female inferiority was meant to exhibit that decisions in families have a basis on who has the physical strengths to push another partner to own desire rather than it is an agreement as Astell expects. She moves further to compare the sovereignty of power of governors of the State and sovereignty of men in their families whereby in the nation, the governors lack the absolute sovereignty whereas in families the masculine males have the absolute power over their wives. She exemplifies the governing of the families to the arbitrary powers that are deemed evil in governing mature and free-people, as such it should not be practiced anywhere (Greenblatt 3019). Astell aims here was to break the male dominance by injecting toxic knowledge to the minds of the female audience by claiming that men are perceived to be masters to eternity over their enslaved wives. In summary, Astell's claim on the imbalance of power in marriages somehow depicting men in possession of arbitrary power over their enslaved wives is a false assertion, in that, just as any other formal organization, marriage should have the hierarchy of management position. In which, a man takes the top rank; a wife comes second in rank whereas children come up least in the levels just as stipulated in the holy books.

If the audience is to take up the justification of Astell on the source of women inferiority, then the audience would mean that women had been placed in home duties under the denial of other privileges such as education and employment opportunities. In this 21st century, men and women have equal opportunities in possession of power, trust, and profit in all places they interact. Astell further portrays her sedition in splitting the social structure by claiming that all best chances are reserved for men a notion of the old prescription in which our ancestors even subscribed the weaker sex group, women to the social injustices and made them feel inferior which has become a norm of the society (Greenblatt 3019). However, the argument of the political, 'tory proto-feminist, Astell intends to create a generation of women that want to arise and fight for the rights of the age that perceived men to be more superior to them. This argument that puts the social norms modeled centuries of years ago as victimization of women is an incitement that wants to see men suffer in the hands of their subjects after women reconnaissance. In the end, nobody chooses to be born with the gender group that they have. Thus, we are customarily mandated to abide by the social norms and expectations placed on our gender roles as either a man or a woman.

Moreover, Astell chose to ignore the fact that men have always tried to keep their women as more attractive creatures although they have absolute power over them. She attempts to scatter-plot the situation of fatherless maids and widowed women and wonders who commands their world yet they lack a master. Equally, she wonders the master such women owe their submissiveness, mainly, if other men in the society have been shaped to monitor over the rest of the women. In this concern, all parties in marriage should understand the importance of their mutual marital agreement and family roles. Even Astell portrays the lack of knowledge when it comes to some crucial matters in a family, specifically in absentia of a man, the master of the family (Greenblatt 3020). Maybe women are supposed to be informed of the essence of the supremacy of the masculine empire in the community, whereby they give their women a sense of belonging rather than them being just stray people or half humans. We have failed to acknowledge that in some situations, few male characters have mistreated and rendered women useless but in most cases, men care for women just as a master does to their subjects; thus the supremacy of men in a marriage comes along with the responsibility for a man to care for his family. Therefore, the incitement of Astell on family structure fails to acknowledge the roles the masters have taken for the wellbeing of their subjects.

Finally, Astell in the feminism campaign claims that women's community structure has undergone deformation to the extent that they can't unify to fight in the rebellion move for the same dominance with the masculine empire. From that comparison, Astell vividly depicts her sedition intentions that don't seem to preserve the male superiority when she claimed that women had been humbled to obey their masters' wishes compared as to the male counterparts (Greenblatt 3021). Thus, even where leading women, few of them would follow the move for fear of violating their master's expectations. As such, for women finding themselves born in masculine empire servitude, they believed that it's infinitely impossible to emancipate themselves from the chains of bondage. And however tries to fight for the freedom becomes an enemy of the community, not only of male empire but also her gender group. In her claims, Astell casts spells on housewives those that are grounded in homes from where they live to entertain their master and subject to every wish the other sex group wants. Astell further blames the religion for hypothesizing the psychology of women and made them servants of masculine empire, a practice that she believes that had its introduction by men (Greenblatt 3022). In the end, based on all assertion of Astell in her writing on the gender inequality, you would realize that all her objectives intended to scrap off the male dominance by inciting women to revolt the current gender dominance.


In conclusion, Mary Astell is an example of those feminist that have controversially spoken up against the gender disparity but targeted a wrong social setting, marriage. When parties unit and decide to tie knots and live together as a family, there are social and cultural expectations placed on each member based on their gender group. A man will ever have the absolute power over the wife, which enables the smooth run of the family. And under no circumstance will a house ever have two men; hence, all women expecting to get married should pay total submissiveness and always deploy dialogue to solve critical issues rather than revolting as Astell expects them to.

Works Cited

Greenblatt, Stephen. The Norton Anthology Of English Literature. 9th ed., W.W. Norton, 2012.

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Essay Sample on England's First Feminist Mary Astell. (2022, Oct 27). Retrieved from

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