Women In Montaigne's Essay On Education

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As advanced and modern Montaigne’s thoughts on education are, his thoughts on women are dated, misogynistic, and erroneous. The reader has an early impression of this in Montaigne’s essay on education. When speaking about education, Montaigne always refers to male students, never educating daughters. Now, this in itself does not make Montaigne sexist and misogynistic, as it was not part of the culture or period for girls or women to receive an education. However, it is soon very clear that Montaigne’s opinion of women is much lower than not allowing them to be educated. Montaigne degrades women in his society as less than human, starkly different from his opinions on other cultures; even cannibals are higher than women are in Montaigne’s mind. In fact, he…show more content…
A woman is a pretty accessory that serves little purpose. Montaigne suggests that “…a woman smells most perfectly when she does not smell at all, just as her deeds are said to smell sweetest when they are unnoticed and unheard” (Montaigne, p. 134). A woman should work quietly in the background while her husband takes all the credit. The women in Montaigne’s life were ornamental at best. What is most shocking is that Montaigne’s disdain for women extends even to his own daughter. In speaking about his education system, Montaigne notes that “…even if my hopes for her should be disappointed, there will be enough other causes for blaming my educational system... I should have followed it still more scrupulously with sons, who are less subservient and are freer by nature.” (Montaigne, p. 142). Montaigne had only one surviving child, a daughter, but instead of educating her well and treating her with the same respect that he would give sons, he blames her failure on her subservient and unfree nature. A nature that exists due to both his treatment and lack of valuing her as well as society’s oppression of women during the
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