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The Rights of Woman

The Rights of Woman

by Anna Laetitia Barbauld

The Rights of Woman Analysis

Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Form and Meter

Um… what? That's right: "The Rights of Women" is written in Sicilian quatrains. Now, before your eyes glaze over, we'll translate that into plain English: a quatrain is just a 4-line stanza. Clea...

Speaker

The speaker of "The Rights of Woman" is almost certainly a woman. And boy, does she have an axe to grind. She spends most of the poem trying to convince women to stand up for themselves and to take...

Setting

The setting of "The Rights of Women" is hard to nail down, because it's never actually described. The speaker jumps from one set of metaphors to another as she calls on women to rise up and fight f...

Sound Check

"The Rights of Women" sounds exactly as it should—like a battle cry for women's rights. You can imagine bugles and drums and the sound of marching (female) soldiers as you listen to this poem. Th...

What's Up With the Title?

The title "The Rights of Women" seems simple enough, right? But given when the poem was written, the title is clearly a shout-out to Mary Wollstonecraft, who published A Vindication of the Rights o...

Calling Card

Most writers in the late 18th and early 19th century were men, and a lot of the world frowned on women who wrote essays or poetry. Some women even published under fake, male names so that no one co...

Tough-o-Meter

With its tough vocabulary and wacky sentence structure, this isn't a poem to tackle without Shmoop or your handy dictionary as a guide, but its themes—Women's rights! Revolution!— are ideas tha...

Trivia

Some critics argue that Barbauld criticizes Wollstonecraft in this poem not so much because she disagreed with Wollstonecraft's arguments, but because she was miffed that Wollstonecraft made fun of...

Steaminess Rating

There's no sex in this poem—in fact, women are kicking men out entirely. But there's a lot of woman-on-man violence suggested by all the war metaphors, so we're giving it a PG rating instead of a...

Allusions

The title of Anna Barbauld's poem is clearly a reference to Mary Wollstonecraft's feminist manifesto, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, which was published earlier in the same year as Barbauld'...

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