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The Rights of Woman

The Rights of Woman

by Anna Laetitia Barbauld

The Rights of Woman Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Would you call Anna Barbauld a feminist, or an anti-feminist, or somewhere in between? Or does this usual way of defining the issue not apply? 
  2. Do you think that Barbauld is arguing against Wollstonecraft in this poem, or that she's mocking Wollstonecraft's detractors? How can you tell?
  3. Is the shift at the end of the poem meant to be ironic, or to be taken seriously? Why do you think so?
  4. What are the "rights of woman," according to Barbauld? What do you think are the rights of woman?
  5. Why does Barbauld use so many military metaphors? What's the effect of this?
  6. The tone of the poem shifts in a few places. Where would you mark those shifts, and how would you describe them? What's the effect on your reading?
  7. What's the motivation of the speaker in this poem for claiming women's rights? What do you think has changed, before the start of the poem, to make her want to assert women's rights? What has changed at the end of the poem? Has anything changed? What's the take-away message, here?
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