Comparing Wieland And The Speech Of Miss Polly Baker

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During to the 18th century, women were taught they had a very specific place in a patriarchal society, and from an early age were taught how to achieve this place. Women were taught they needed to embody piety, purity, submissiveness and domesticity according to Barbara Welter in her paper, “The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820-1860,” published in 1966. A woman was told if she embodied all of these traits she would be a “true woman”. In 1798, Charles Brockden Brown published Wieland: or, The Transformation: An American Tale. The novel is an American Gothic novel set between the French and Indian War (1754-1763) and the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783). The novel follows Clara Wieland, as she struggles to find her place in society as she is faced with the loss of her virtue. Benjamin Franklin gives another example of loss of virtue in “The speech of Miss Polly Baker,” written in 1747. The speech shows what happens when a woman is given the right to defend herself against her accusers. Both works show the reality women faced when presented with the loss of their virtue. The…show more content…
Both Clara and Polly Baker were accused of losing their virtue and becoming fallen women, while the men were not held accountable. In Wieland, Clara was accused with no evidence to support the accusation except for Pleyel, who informs her he only heard what happened. Clara is not able to defend herself against the attack against her reputation. While Miss Polly Baker, on the other hand is dragged before the court and given the right to defend herself. She is able to justify her actions and point out the inequality of the system. She is able to decry the injustice of women being punished while the men are not held responsible for the consequences. In the end, both women were only able to regain their respectability through the actions of

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