Margaret‘s main ideology behind the Great Lawsuit theory is that men and women are an extension from God. She argues that it is virtually impossible for people to reach high levels of maturity and independence from being classified as a group. Instead, they need to be accorded equal rights for maturity and independence to be achieved. She also identifies that it is in the nature of man’s destiny that he fulfils his intended purpose on earth. By reference to man, it includes both sexes who are equal components to one school of thought. The realization of the fulfillment of one gender can never be attained without the help of the other. In essence, Margaret identifies that neither man nor woman can scale the heights for their purpose on earth without the help of each other (Fuller). This study will evaluate the development of this theory with regard to the period to which it was developed.
Margaret Fuller was raised in a period where women were rarely accorded the same respect as men. However, Margaret’s work was carefully written for an educated audience; which was comparatively different from other scholars during the same period such as Thoreau and Douglas. Margaret had a number of jobs in her life, including teaching and journalism among other vocational jobs. Margaret was born in an averagely popular family in Massachusetts in 1810. Unlike many of her peers, Margaret grew up almost as a boy (Steele). She got the same education as male children and even learnt how to ride horses which was rather unusual for girls. This was the culmination of her father’s vision because he intended her to grow up and receive the same benefits as male folks of her time. This was probably the reason that inspired her works. It can be evidenced from her work that among her greatest emphasis was the fact that men should not perceive themselves as better than women and at the same time, the white race cannot be superior to the blacks. For her bravery at a time when the society was still highly polarized among racial and gender lines, she became a great American revolutionist. This made her among the first ever female revolutionists (Steele).
Perception of Women
When Margaret Fuller developed her works, there was a deep sited perception of women being a form of property. The law didn’t recognize women as an independent entity from their husbands or any other male for the matter. Unlike the society today where divorce is a common characteristic, women were not allowed to separate with their husbands for whatever reason. This tied down women to their husbands regardless of whether she or her children were mistreated (Hollinger).
The importance of mathematics or the study of language was a preserve for the men. Women were very ignorant then and the society ensured status quo was maintained. Women were therefore the property of the man and were encouraged to indulge in less meaningful economic activities such as sewing, tailoring, embroidery and the likes. However, modern language was taught to women but the importance of education was anything but a woman’s’ preserve. Nevertheless, Margaret was repeatedly reassured by her father that she was no different from boys.
Between the period of 1819-1825, Margaret was enrolled in a private school but her attendance was rather irregular. Reasons why this was done are still, unclear. Instead, most of her education was undertaken on a private scheme (at home). This was done under her father’s supervision. In 1833, Margaret was already a translator and perfected her practice in a local Boston newspaper agency. In 1835, here father passed on and left her the responsibility of taking care of her family. Then she was just 25. Needless to say, the society wasn’t ready to accept the role of a woman as the head of the family. She was however undeterred (Hollinger).
Margaret condemned the attitude that existed at her time, portraying the man as the head of the house and the woman as the heart of the house. She also criticized arguments that championed the notion that: if women attained their independence, it would destabilize the society. She identifies that the inadequacies of the law stemmed from the way society looked down upon women, equating them to children and affirming the fact that they can’t be the same as men. Margaret noted that women needed to be accorded some degree of space and self independence. She also criticized existing notions against equality of both genders by referring to early Christian times where men and women were equal. She referred to saints who were both male and females. The power of women to be happy and granted use of poetry were dismissed as critical components for equality; instead intellectual and religious equality were the principle driving forces to attain women independence (Chevigny).
The perception of marriage in her time was that of convenience to make a union of same souls. She redefined this notion into four facets. The first category was that of convenience manifested in partnerships where women and men cohabited for convenience. In this category, the man always provided for the house while the woman took care of the home. The second facet was of marriage idolatry where the partners derived perfection excluding the rest of the world. The third facet was that of intellectual companionship where the man and woman were basically friends and shared their thoughts with each other. This was however observed with the exception of love. The fourth category was based on religion where both partners were dependent on each other. This form of marriage is classified as the highest.
French revolution and slavery
When Margaret developed her works, the French were giving citizenship to women but this was done on the account of blood shed for liberty. This clouded the freedom to which the French gave women. The revolution could have otherwise been in America but it was clouded with a history of depravity which was inherited from Europe. The American society was also highly characterized by its cruelty towards black slaves. There were also a lot of injustices witnessed towards Christians whom Margaret referred to as the Gentiles.
Margaret likened these happenings to the persecution of Christ. It was characterized by propagated injustices against the black slaves at the time. The same was observed for the red Indians to whom Margaret termed as blatant persecution by Americans to satisfy their own selfish interests. In addition to her assertion that men were equal to their female counterparts, Margaret noted that some people were born as equal slaves. She also likened slaves to freemen. Moreover, she likened the freedom and liberty to realize equality as a facet of the American law (Rossi).
Women in the 19th century and transcendentalism
The book “women in the 19th century” is regarded by American feminist movements as one of its kind. Its publication and impact can only be equated to great works by phenomenal authors such as Mary Wollstonecraft in 1792 (Myerson). Her work is regarded as a literally piece today, considering the events that went on during her time. Her work was majorly written on masculine convention while most publications by women were regarded as sentimental pieces of literature. “Women in the 19th century” is therefore an assertion of females through the feminism point of view as opposed to a masculine point of view which was propagated by some female scholars.
There were many ideas expressed in Margaret’s transcendentalism works. This was as a result of her strong conviction towards the movement. Her work portrayed the enlightening of individual ideas to the general improvement of mankind’s wellbeing. She championed the fact that empowering women through intellectual and spiritual means would amount to empowering the entire society. In essence, it would amount to the betterment of mankind (Myerson).
However, the Great lawsuit theory stems from movements such as the abolitionist. Discrimination against women was therefore likened to the persecution slaves underwent. Margaret was therefore appealing to the same compassion men felt towards women to be reflected to the discrimination and inequality women were going through. It was also to mean that the same energy women offered for the liberation of slave should be applied to their struggle for independence and eventual liberation. Margaret’s work had a lot of reference to literally aspects of the society including political, religious and historical insights to her work. This was aimed at showing her educational prowess in an age where women were barely educated. The piece also highlighted her work in politics and her general life in an age where women were expected to look after their families and husbands (Myerson).
Margaret examines the difference between men and women in the Great Law suit theory by identifying that both men and women need their own freedom and spiritual independence. She identifies men and women have equal souls and their affiliation to either masculinity of feminist needs to be disregarded. It can therefore be concluded that differences between men and women are inexistent because both have common energies but are only identified as either masculine or feminine. Their difference can only be based on individual basis. There is therefore no man fully masculine or a woman entirely feminine.