Manual Minerva and the Muse: A Life of Margaret Fuller

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Woman in the Nineteenth Century - Margaret Fuller - Literary Collections, Social Science - 1/6

Seek out these degraded women, give them tender sympathy, counsel, employment. Take the place of mothers, such as might have saved them originally I believe that, at present, women are the best helpers of one another. Let them think; let them act; till they know what they need. We only ask of men to remove arbitrary barriers. Some would like to do more. But I believe it needs that Woman show herself in her native dignity, to teach them how to aid her; their minds are so encumbered by tradition In a world with strict division between male and female, masculinity and femininity, and one proclaimed weaker than the other, Margaret voiced an uncommon view.

Male and female represent the two sides of the great radical dualism. But, in fact, they are perpetually passing into one another. Fluid hardens to solid, solid rushes to fluid.

Joan von Mehren, Minerva and the Muse: A Life of Margaret Fuller. - Free Online Library

There is no wholly masculine man, no purely feminine woman It may be said that Man does not have his fair play either; his energies are repressed and distorted by the interposition of artificial obstacles. Ay, but he himself has put them there; they have grown out of his own imperfections…As every Man is of Woman born, she has slow but sure means of redress; yet the sooner a general justness of thought makes smooth the path, the better Such beings as these, rich in genius, of most tender sympathies, capable of high virtue and a chastened harmony, ought not to find themselves, by birth, in a place so narrow, that in breaking bonds, they become outlaws….

They find their way, at last, to light and air, but the world will not take off the brand it has set upon them But women like Sand will speak now and cannot be silenced; their characters and their eloquence alike foretell an era when such as they shall easier learn to lead true lives Union is only possible to those who are units. To be fit for relations in time, souls, whether Man or Woman, must be able to do without them in spirit…It is therefore that I would have Woman lay aside all thought, such as she habitually cherishes, of being taught and led by men…I would have her free from compromise, from complaisance, from helplessness, because I would have her good enough and strong enough to love one and all beings, from the fullness, not the poverty of being A house is no home unless it contain food and fire for the mind as well as for the body…For human beings are not so constituted that they can live without expansion.


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If they do not get it in one way, they must in another, or perish But if you ask me what offices they may fill, I reply — any. I do not care what case you put; let them be sea-captains, if you will. I do not doubt there are women well fitted for such an office…I think women need, especially at this juncture, a much greater range of occupation than they have, to rouse their latent powers. I have no doubt, however, that a large proportion of women would give themselves to the same employments as now, because there are circumstances that must lead them…The difference would be that all need not be constrained to employments for which some are unfit We would have every arbitrary barrier thrown down.

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