Jane Edgeworth's An Essay On The Noble Science Of Self-Justification

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In "An Essay on the Noble Science of Self-Justification", Edgeworth writes to married women across the country, explaining the best ways to command, manipulate, and frustrate their husbands. Building upon the principle that "a woman can do no wrong”, Edgeworth warns against the sly tricks that men use like "logic" and "reason", in an attempt to undermine the women in their life. While her advice seems like a direct manual for obtaining power at the expense of another person, Edgeworth’s essay functions as a satirical criticism of the way that English society viewed women as inferior beings.
For the purpose of this essay, we define satire as “ a style of writing used to criticize an aspect of society through the use of sarcasm, irony, or exaggeration” …show more content…

Edgeworth first employs this device when she addresses women with “the good fortune to have a common enemy, a husband, to combat” (Edgeworth 2). This sarcasm is evident because having an enemy to combat is not viewed positively. Additionally, Edgeworth’s essay addresses the mistreatment that wives endure from their husbands on multiple occurrences, and does not make a husband seem like a desirable commodity, much less, a good fortune. Edgeworth’s use of sarcasm contributes to the satirical nature of her essay because it implicitly argues that wives should not have to combat their husbands - if women were treated as equals in the household, then man and wife could work together to achieve productivity instead of “[engaging] in perpetual petty skirmishes” (Edgeworth 2). Only a page later, Edgeworth uses the same technique when she employs sarcasm to addresses how a woman can argue “properly” : she is given the “dear privilege of repeating continually:... the universal opinion” (Edgeworth 3). Edgeworth’s words were intended as sarcasm because she is saying that a woman can only repeat the common opinion in an argument, what everyone else thinks, rather than coming up with an argument of her own. Ironically, Edgeworth is a woman of the time, writing an opinionated satire that disagrees with the standard

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