The Power of Sympathy

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The Power of Sympathy

The Power of Sympathy by William Hill Brown is a narrative to teach young

ladies about the importance of education, the fatal consequences of seduction, and the

proper instruction women should have. This narrative was written to scare women away

from wayward love and more towards rational love. It gives us insight to the heartache of

women who fell for wayward love and their consequences. Brown uses education,

seduction, and the proper instruction for women as a way to make women more educated

on seduction. This is so women won't fall for seduction or be the seducer themselves.

Education is used throughout the narrative. Women need an education, and by

being virtuous and religious these are the main foundations of a proper education. This

novel wants to educate women on seduction and how easily seduced, without question,

women are about their lovers. When women receive an education it is teaching them to

be self sufficient and rational. By being self sufficient women won't follow other

people's ideas, but their own. Mrs. Holmes talks about the importance of women

knowing them self " to impress the minds of females with a principle of self

correction; for among all kinds of knowledge which arises from reading, the duty of self

knowledge is very eminent one; and is at the same time, the most useful and

important"(27). The opinions that women entertain about themselves is an important part

of what seduction wants to teach. If women have a high self worth they are less likely

not to think of seduction and fall for it. The importance of women receiving an

education is so when presented with seduction, and wayward love women deal with it

rationally and think about the effects that it will have on themselves. Without an

education women will be led astray into harmful relationships, often ending in disaster.

With an education women learn about morals and the way to learn from others mistakes.

"Educated in the school of luxury and pride, the female heart grows gradually torpid to

the fine feelings of sensibility- the blush of modesty wears off- the charms of elegant

simplicity fade by degrees- and the continual hurry of dissipation, supersedes the

improvement of serious reflection. Reflection is a kind of relaxation from frolicking- it

encourages the progress of virtue, and upholds the heart from sinking to depravity"(Mrs.

Holmes 73).

Seduction is the main theme women need to learn about in this novel. We learn

about the consequences of seduction through several written letters. Ophelia had an

affair with her sisters husband, then killed herself with all the quilt and shame she

had caused her family. Mr. Hon Harrington has an affair with Maria Faucet and gets

Maria pregnant. Maria's daughter is Harriot who falls in love with her brother

Harrington without ever knowing of their incestuous love. Theses women were easily

seduced by men without any question of their lovers affection. Ophelia and Maria both

knew that the men they slept with were married. This is how the book suggested that

women who have an education would not have been easily seduced by these men if

they had learned about it. Without an education to be virtuous and rational these women

fell for wayward love and weren't thinking of the self consequences. With no education

women fall for men that don't love them, use them, cause a deathly heartache, cause

their families shame and may cause your children to have an incestuous affair. By

reading these stories on seduction they want women to see the consequences of what

seduction does. "O seduction! How many and how miserable are the victims of they

unrelenting vengeance. Some crimes, indeed, cease to afflict when they cease to

exit, but seduction opens the door to a dismal train of innumerable miseries" (Harriot 41).

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