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    What was Samuel Taylor Coleridge's view on women and how they were treated in society.
    Did he agree with Mary Wollstonecraft's, A Vindication of the Right's of Woman?
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    (Original post by Z116)
    What was Samuel Taylor Coleridge's view on women and how they were treated in society.
    Did he agree with Mary Wollstonecraft's, A Vindication of the Right's of Woman?

    Generally speaking, he did. She was certainly a heavy influence on him, as was her husband.


    Coleridge developed his own philosophy, ‘Pantisocracy,’ in this period after reading the political works of William Godwin, the husband of Mary Wollstonecraft. Along with Robert Southey, Coleridge in essence preached a theistic notion of social equality with a radical, quasi-Communist twist. He believed social inequality stems from private ownership of real estate, which earned him the tag of ‘Jacobin,’ a radical reformer. Still dealing with the legacy of the Enlightenment era, he struggled to blend his Anglicanism with the voice of scientific reason. Although his commitment to Pantisocracy dissolved with time as Southey moved away and Coleridge married, Coleridge remained an outspoken critic of society and an active poet. Around 1795, he also composed ‘The Nightingale’ for Mary Wollstonecraft and her husband. He became known more for his poetry than his ideology as his poems spread through England and France.

    Mary Wollstonecraft influenced Coleridge in more ways than one. After reading her Vindication of the Rights of Woman, he wrote letters to his friend Southey telling him the kind of woman he would prefer to marry. He was looking for a woman who led a determined and moral life, not deluded by conforming to the latest fashion. Soon after, he would fall in love with Sarah Frickley and marry her. When Coleridge renounced his previous sporadic, romantic relations and devoted himself to Sarah, he wrote austere poetry in unrhymed verse to display the vice of these former relations and give a grave warning regarding Wollstonecraft’s more progressive edicts about love and marriage. This forceful poetry alerted women to behave morally or else! Yet Coleridge supported Wollstonecraft’s attack on the subjugation of women in marriage, or what was commonly referred to as ‘Hemiplegia,’ a term progressive thinkers used to mean living half a life. He read Wollstonecraft’s Maria, a chilling story based on her sister’s life where a young woman deals with an abusive upbringing and then loses all rights and freedom in a dreadful marriage. After reading this, Coleridge proposes in an essay the radical vision that men should be held accountable for adultery too. In the height of patriarchal dominance in Europe, Coleridge must have sometimes been seen as a radical, but he firmly believed in aspects of the progressive thinking Mary Wollstonecraft encouraged.

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