Margaret Cavendish on Gender, Nature, and Freedom

Hypatia 28 (3):516-532 (2013)
Abstract
Some scholars have argued that Margaret Cavendish was ambivalent about women's roles and capabilities, for she seems sometimes to hold that women are naturally inferior to men, but sometimes that this inferiority is due to inferior education. I argue that attention to Cavendish's natural philosophy can illuminate her views on gender. In section II I consider the implications of Cavendish's natural philosophy for her views on male and female nature, arguing that Cavendish thought that such natures were not fixed. However, I argue that although Cavendish thought women needed to be better educated, and could change if they had such an education, she also thought their education should reinforce the feminine virtues. Section III examines Cavendish's notorious “Preface to the Reader” (from The Worlds Olio), where Cavendish claims that women are naturally inferior in strength and intelligence to men. Section IV addresses another notorious Cavendish text, “Female Orations,” arguing that its message is similar to that of the “Preface to the Reader.” Nonetheless, although Cavendish held conventional views about male and female nature and appropriate gender roles, she also recognized how social institutions could limit women's freedom; section V explores the complexities of Cavendish's critique of one such institution, patriarchal marriage
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1527-2001.2012.01307.x
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,749
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 1968 - Harmondsworth, Penguin.
Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 1651 - Dover Publications.
Reason and Freedom: Margaret Cavendish on the Order and Disorder of Nature.Karen Detlefsen - 2007 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 89 (2):157-191.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Women on Liberty in Early Modern England.Jacqueline Broad - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (2):112-122.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Debating Materialism: Cavendish, Hobbes, and More.Stewart Duncan - 2012 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 29 (4):391-409.
Reason and Freedom: Margaret Cavendish on the Order and Disorder of Nature.Karen Detlefsen - 2007 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 89 (2):157-191.
Margaret Cavendish's Epistemology.Kourken Michaelian - 2009 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 17 (1):31 – 53.
Margaret Cavendish.Deborah Boyle - 2013 - Philosophers' Magazine 60 (-1):63 - 65.
Fame, Virtue, and Government: Margaret Cavendish on Ethics and Politics.Deborah Boyle - 2006 - Journal of the History of Ideas 67 (2):251-289.
Added to PP index
2012-06-23

Total downloads
39 ( #137,183 of 2,197,362 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #97,221 of 2,197,362 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature