A Darwinian Approach to Judith Sargent Murray’s “On the Equality of the Sexes”
Candis Pizzetta, Ph.D.

The article explores the conjunction between the rhetorical tropes in Judith Sargent Murray‟s essay “On the Equality of the Sexes” and the complex interactions concerning social status and biological imperatives. Darwinian literary analysis is used to apply models of evolutionary psychology to analysis of the author‟s motivation and to the anticipated reaction of her readers. This analysis considers both the forces of evolution and how those forces interact with ever-changing social and cultural conditions. Murray‟s use of both romantic and dialectical irony mask the more radical aspects of her advice on educating young women. Thus, the article also examines how advice literature, in particular, encourages the reader to consider altering his or her behavior to affect a particular end. Since the objective of this genre is often social change, the ideas introduced in advice literature essentially function as cultural variants, introducing an adaptive change that will enhance the fitness of the reader for a particular cultural role.

Full Text: PDF      DOI: 10.15640/ijll.v6n1a1