Condition of woman in 18th century

Materie:Tema
Categoria:Inglese

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Data:14.11.2005
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Testo

The concept of national character was a subject of debate and development during the eighteenth century. It was generally agreed that each nation has its peculiar characteristics but there was variety of opinion on what constitutes national character. There was debate on the relative weight of physical and spiritual factors in shaping national traits. At the beginning of the century national character was observed as a historical fact; towards the end it was regarded as an active political force that must be fostered as the basis for reform. Thus national character moved from the realm of speculation to that of theory with immediate practical applications. The moral character, which is composed of a mixture of virtues and vices such as sociability, sincerity, vanity, generosity, pride, laziness, honesty. There is an unexpected return to the simpler view of national character as a series of moral and mental qualities..
women play an important role in shaping national character and pondered how changing the condition of women would modify national characteristics. The feminine influence was discussed most frequently in connection with the French because French frivolity was attributed to early and free association with women. Helvétius explained the negative influence of women by the form of government and education. Under a political regime which does not reward merit with power, men place their energies into the pursuit of pleasure in the frequentation of women, who are frivolous because they are not educated. Legislation which would correct or restrain the behaviour of women, he wrote, would deprive society of their civilizing influence. Most forward looking of all, Condorcet called for the end of legal inequality between the sexes and for universal education.

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