128 Intro to “The Great Lawsuit”

“The Great Lawsuit” was originally published in The Dial in 1843, and two years later was republished as the book “Woman in the Nineteenth Century”. Margaret Fuller published “The Great Lawsuit” five years before the Seneca Falls Convention, which is considered the birth of first wave feminism. This text is considered one of the first great feminist works in America, and through it Fuller became known as one of the earliest American feminists. In “The Great Lawsuit”, Fuller addresses many gender inequities, refutes them, and discusses how they are harmful to not only women, but to society as a whole. Fuller was influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s concept of one universal order, and she used it as a framework to form her argument on the equality of the sexes.

Fuller’s dedication to transcendentalism is also reflected in this work, such as the argument that allowing women to grow spiritually and intellectually will better humankind as a whole. While Fuller’s ideas were perceived as controversial, many received her argument well. Among harsher critics were American author Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife Sophia, who commented “I think Margaret speaks of things that should not be spoken of”. “The Great Lawsuit” remains a milestone for feminism in the United States.







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openamlitGU by Timothy Robbins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


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