Margaret Fuller and The Great Lawsuit: Man versus Men and Woman versus Women (1843) 1 9 TH C E N T U R Y A M E R I C A N TRANSCENDENTALISM O C T O B E R 1 8 TH 2 0 1 0 The Great Lawsuit: Making the “Case” HOW DOES FULLER CHARACTERIZE THE POSITIONS OF MEN AND WOMEN? HOW DOES SHE TRY TO REFRAME THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE SEXES? HOW DOES FULLER ACT AS A CULTURAL CRITIC IN THIS PIECE? WHAT IS THE “CASE” SHE IS MAKING? The Life of Margaret Fuller (1810-1850) 1839-1844: holds “conversations" in Boston, while serving as the editor of The Dial 1846: becomes a foreign correspondent for the New York Tribune (one of the first in America) 1847: meets and falls in love with Marquis Giovanni Angelo d’Ossoli and gives birth to an illegitimate son 1850: Upon the family’s return home from Europe, their ship is overtaken by a storm; they drown in sight of Fire Island. Thoreau is sent by Emerson to recover Fuller’s manuscripts but finds only unidentifiable human remains on the beach. Radical social change in the 1840s Abolitionism Fourierism Transcendentalism Women’s rights “A great moral law” “Here, as elsewhere, the gain of creation consists always in the growth of individual minds, which live and aspire, as flowers bloom and birds sing, in the midst of morasses; and in the continual development of that thought, the thought of human destiny, which is given to eternity to fulfill, and which ages of failure only seemingly impede…this country is as surely destined to elucidate a great moral law, as Europe was to promote the mental culture of man” (302-303 in Buell). Fuller in conversation with her self-image “Of Miranda, I had always thought as an example, that the restraints upon the sex were insuperable only to those who think them so, or who noisily strive to break them…the many men, who knew her mind and her life, showed to her confidence as to a brother, gentleness as to a sister. And not only refined, but very coarse men approved one in whom they saw resolution and clearness of design. Her mind was often the leading one, always effective” (309 in Buell). “Miranda, The Tempest,” J.W. Waterhouse, 1916 (oil on canvas) Man and Woman’s “Prophetic” Relationship “The sexes should not only correspond to and appreciate one another, but prophesy to one another. In individual instances this happens. Two persons love in one another the future good which they aid one another to unfold…[in the general life, man] often discourages with school-boy brag; Girls cant do that, girls cant play ball. But let any one defy their taunts, brake through, and be brave and secure, they rend the air with shouts. No! Man is not willingly ungenerous…he is not yet himself an elevated being. He cries with sneering skepticism; Give us a sign…” (310 in Buell) Men’s relationship(s) to Women “It is soon obscured by the mists of sensuality, the dust of routine, and he thinks it was only some meteor, or ignis fatuus that shone.” Fuller and Emerson Fuller linked “the woman question” directly to Emersonian self-reliance: “What Woman needs is not as a woman to act or rule but as a nature to grow, as an intellect to discern, as a soul to live freely and unimpeded, to unfold such powers as were given her when we left our common home.” Conversation starters: Denise’s questions “If fewer talents were given her, yet, if allowed the free and employment of these, so that she may render back to the giver his own with usury*, she will not complain, nay, I dare say she will bless and rejoice in her earthly birth-place, her earthly lot,” Fuller writes (307). Does this have any connection with Emerson’s argument “As soon as man is at one with God, he will not beg. He will then see prayer in all action” (225)? Is there a difference between Fuller’s term “Self-Dependent” and Emerson’s “Self Reliance”? If so what is the difference? Is Fuller correct in likening the discrimination of women to slavery or is there a distinction between the two? *Usury here means "interest." In Matthew 25.14-30 (parable of talents), the servant who buries his one talent is told by his lord, "Thou oughtest...to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with usury." Conversation starters: Nazeena’s questions Fuller’s conversations consist of driving her colleagues to sympathize with her idea of the enslavement of woman. Would Peabody being another female transcendentalist agree with Fuller’s alternative feministic views? Although Fuller wants equality and to establish a ground for women in society, is she falling astray from the idea of self-betterment and becoming self-defiant? Would Alcott agree with Fuller’s methods of discussion? Is she enforcing a “right” answer upon her colleagues and if so is this being transcendental at all? In terms of Emerson, would you consider Margaret Fuller a true transcendentalist? Is she teaching self reliance or is she protesting her movement? Fuller talks of diminishing the cultural norms of men and women that result in women being treated different to men, Is she really helping in diminishing this norm if she is defining women as being influenced by their union to men, and attacking the aspect of marriage instead?