Personal Response Assignment #2
6th September 2012
Daniel Defoe: ‘The Education of Women’
Daniel Defoe’s essay entitled “The Education of Women” was written to emphasis the value of education for women should be more than what is was. In paragraph 1 “...us a civilized and a Christian country” Defoe’s target audience was for men and for those who follow the church and God. England at this time was dominantly of Christian faith and in this essay Defoe advocates more of God’s will rather than his own to establish his own credibility and moral high ground and Defoe is able to do this by raising this issue in the minds of his Christian readership. Although there may not be too much weight behind his view on why women needed to be educated, with referencing God throughout the essay it becomes an effective reading with his target audience. He starts with his opinion then refers to God in the next sentence. This is a regular theme from start to finish and this captures his reader’s interest early on.
Defoe included this rhetorical sentences in this essay and in paragraph 3 Defoe writes "the soul is placed in the body like a rough diamond, and must be polished, or the luster of it will never appear". His analogy is that if you don’t polish the diamond (women and educating) then they will never shine. In paragraph 3 he uses the term God in his next sentence. “If knowledge and understanding had been useless additions to the sex, God Almighty would never have given them capacities; for he made nothing needless.” He states that God made women capable of learning and that none of God’s creation is unnecessary. Defoe believes women should be educated and educating them they would simply become better wives and companions for men. As an example of this is in paragraph 5, he does not suggest learning practical subjects such as math and science but instead, he says that they should be taught” “... in particular,...
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