Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Influence of The History of Rasselas on A Vindication of the Rights

The Influence of The History of Rasselas on A Vindication of the Rights of Woman  Ã‚  Ã‚        Ã‚   A surprising commonality found between Johnson's The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia and Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman is their shared views on women's issues. This commonality is surprising since the two authors had different political viewpoints. While Johnson was a conservative Tory, Wollstonecraft was a social nonconformist and feminist. Although Wollstonecraft and Johnson adhered to different political agendas, Wollstonecraft revered many of Johnson's literary works. One example of Wollstonecraft's admiration of Johnson is found in her uncompleted short story "Cave of Fancy". Wollstonecraft began writing "Cave of Fancy" in 1786 and based it on Johnson's Rasselas. Like Rasselas, the setting of "Cave of Fancy" is "an unnamed fairy-tale realm where characters remain untouched by everyday concerns" (Conger 61). The similarities between the two works are apparent in their opening lines. Johnson addresses the reader of Rasselas with the following statement: Ye who listen with credulity to the whispers of fancy, and persue with eagerness the phantoms of hope; who expect that age will perform the promises of youth, and that the deficiencies of the present day will be supplied by the morrow; attend to the history of Rasselas prince of Abissinia. (1) The influence of Johnson is apparent in Wollstonecraft's opening lines: Ye who expect constancy where every thing is changing, and peace in the midst of tumult, attend to the voice of experience, and mark in time the footsteps of disappointment; or life will be lost in desultory wishes, and death arrive before the dawn of wisdom. (Basker 43) ... .... Although Johnson and Wollstonecraft focus on women's issues for different reasons in Rasselas and Vindication, the necessity for an increase in women's education in the 18th century is apparent in both works. Both authors agree that a woman needs to be educated in order for society to progress. For Wollstonecraft, women's education is needed for the success of the family. For Johnson, women's education is needed for society's progress as a whole.    Works Cited Basker, James. Women Writers, Marginal Texts, and the Eighteenth-Century Canon. New York: Clarendon, 1996. Conger, Syndy. Mary Wollstonecraft and the Language of Sensibility. New York: Associated UP, 1994. Johnson, Samuel. The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia. New York: Oxford UP, 1998. Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. New York: Norton, 1988.   

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