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Chapter 27 - On women

from PARERGA AND PARALIPOMENA, VOLUME 2

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 November 2015

Adrian Del Caro
Affiliation:
University of Tennessee
Christopher Janaway
Affiliation:
University of Southampton
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Summary

§362

Better in my opinion than Schiller's well-considered poem ‘Women's Dignity’, which uses antithesis and contrast for its effect, are these few words of Jouy for expressing the true praise of women: ‘Without women our lives would be deprived of help in the beginning, of joy in the middle and of consolation in the end.’ The same thing is expressed more emotionally by Byron in Sardanapalus, Act I, scene 2:

The very first

Of human life must spring from woman's breast,

Your first small words are taught you from her lips,

Your first tears quench'd by her, and your last sighs

Too often breathed out in a woman's hearing,

When men have shrunk from the ignoble care

Of watching the last hour of him who led them.

Both characterize the right point of view for the value of women.

§363

Even the sight of the female form demonstrates that woman is destined neither for great mental nor for physical works. She bears the guilt of life not by acting but by suffering, through the pangs of childbirth, caring for the child, and subservience to her husband, for whom she is supposed to be a patient and cheering companion. She is not granted the most vehement sufferings, joys and expressions of power, but her life is supposed to glide by more quietly, less significantly and more gently than that of a man, without being essentially happier or unhappier.

§364

Women are suited to be nurses and governesses of our earliest childhood precisely by the fact that they themselves are childish, silly and short-sighted, in a word, big children their whole life long, a sort of intermediate stage between a child and a man, who is the actual human being. Just look at a girl as she dawdles, dances around with and sings to a child for days, and then imagine what a man doing his utmost could achieve in her stead!

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Chapter
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Schopenhauer: Parerga and Paralipomena
Short Philosophical Essays
, pp. 550 - 561
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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