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Aiming for a Middle Ground: Mary Hays's Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in Behalf of Women
University of Borås, Faculty of Librarianship, Information, Education and IT.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8489-4798
2020 (English)In: Nordic Journal of English Studies, ISSN 1502-7694, E-ISSN 1654-6970, Vol. 19, no 5, p. 244-261Article in journal (Refereed) [Artistic work] Published
Sustainable development
According to the author(s), the content of this publication falls within the area of sustainable development.
Abstract [en]

In 1798, a year after the death of the renowned feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, her friend, the Unitarian writer and polemist, Mary Hays, authored her own tract on the subject of women’s liberation. Entitled Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in Behalf of Women, the publication was not intended to compete with Wollstonecraft’s fiery A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Hays wished to address the major societal issue of inequality between the sexes from a less adversarial angle. As opposed to Wollstonecraft, in her introduction, Mary Hays assumes a posture of humility when stating her ambition: ‘to restore female character to its dignity and independence.’ This paper discusses the rhetorical devices employed by Hays to modify the engrained ideas of her anticipated male readers. Her tract is divided into a set argumentative sequences in the shape of seven chapters. The first of these calls in question the reliance on the Scripture as a foundation for the acceptance of the male-female hierarchy. The second seeks to invalidate the conviction that the subjection of women’s in society could be condoned through rational causes. The third and fourth chapters give an overview of some major, misconceptions of men with regard to women’s capabilities. Chapter five and six illustrate plentiful examples of unsavoury realities of female existence. In the last chapter of the Appeal, Mary Hays delivers a set of exhortations and hopeful recommendations for effectuating a change. The overall aim of the paper is to identify and analyse Hays’s strategy for converting the opposite sex, not through revolutionary ferocity or meek supplications, but through constructive persuasiveness. In a concluding section some supportive male intellectuals are introduced to illustrate Hays’s achievement of a middle ground on which to communicate.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborg, 2020. Vol. 19, no 5, p. 244-261
Keywords [en]
feminism, Wollstonecraft, Hays, Godwin, Crabb Robinson
National Category
Humanities and the Arts
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-24654DOI: 10.35360/njes.554Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85099107187OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hb-24654DiVA, id: diva2:1517093
Available from: 2021-01-13 Created: 2021-01-13 Last updated: 2024-02-01Bibliographically approved

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Bergmann, Helena

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