The Speech Of Polly Baker Essay

1003 Words Feb 7th, 2015 null Page
“The Speech of Polly Baker” by Benjamin Franklin is a leading example of how American writers challenged notions of social injustice and attempted to bring social change. Franklin writes this fictional story about a woman being convicted for giving birth to an illegitimate child and criticizes the laws that punish them. Polly Baker has been convicted of this same crime four times previously but each time, argues that she is not the only one responsible for this transgression. Women are considered in contempt of the law while the men responsible for impregnating them are left completely unpunished. Not only is she criminalized, but is also “excluded from the all the Comforts of [the] Church Communion” and is subjected to “additional Fines and Whippings” (243). Franklin concludes his story by boldly stating that the court “ought, in [her] humble Opinion, instead of Whipping, to have a Statue erected in [her] memory” (244).
In the same ways that Benjamin Franklin argued for gender equality, Charlotte Perkins Gillman wrote her “The Yellow Wallpaper” to problematize women inequity during this time. Gillman addresses the undeniable fact of female repression during this time. The main character struggles with depression and unhappiness of her marriage. However, when she becomes ill, her husband belittles her condition and describes it as nothing more than “temporary nervous depression-a slight hysterical tendency” (508). She tries to share her feelings of unhappiness and…

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