Literary Article Review: Elizabeth Cady Stanton piece “You Should Have Been a Boy”

The piece is essentially the opening to Stanton’s life and it goes into detail to show how she formed the foundation of her life’s work on women’s rights.  The overall theme of the piece was that Stanton would take a different route in the world, one away from that old Scotch world where a woman is beholden to man.  The sentiment that drives the title is driven by her endless pursuit to fulfill the hole in her father’s heart, one left by the loss of his son.  During the wake period of her brother while he laid in state she did what any young child would do, try to comfort her father and as well as receive comfort in her own time of grief.  It is at this time a moment happens that forms her entire life:  “At length he heaved a deep sigh and said: ‘Oh, my daughter, I wish you were a boy!” Throwing my arms about his neck, I replied: ‘I will try to be all my brother was”’(Stanton, 1).  The following day she starts on the journey to learn the ways a boy of her time period would; she finds someone to teach her the classics and the languages that form civilization.  Her father, being a judge and taking on the role of mentor to many young men on their own path to become lawyers exposes Stanton to law early on and she is well steeped in the world of rule by word.  The problem is that law, written and enforced by men is rooted in the old world and ways of Scotland; of English propriety that makes a man owner of all and leaves women at the virtual mercy of men.

I don’t mind admitting that it took the last 3 days of really trying to find a convergent theme between the pieces of previous weeks and this essay by Stanton.  The one I keep coming back to is Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”.  The last two lines are really what tie the two together for me:  “I took the one less traveled by / And that has made all the difference” (Frost, 19-20).  The theme I am tying the two pieces together with is the reason the authors see themselves looking back and knowing that because they took the chance to wander a different course in life they are made all the better in the end.

Stanton remarks in the end that even though she knows the world is not changed in her time and that she relents in marrying regardless of the male bent laws she travels quite the different path in the world.  The symbolism between Frost’s words “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I / I took the one less traveled by” (Frost, 18-19) and Stanton’s last two paragraph’s on the piece share near mirror feelings.  The author stands in a spot and sees the path behind them that leads them to where they are and knows that it was right, regardless of the result.  Because Stanton’s piece is merely the opening to a much bigger story the reader gets the feeling that she is going to tell her tale of a life that is much unlike many of her contemporaries.  The rhetorical appeal of Ethos was well used in both, although the poem does so in a shorter form.  Both tales are told that instill the reader with much trust in the authority of the story teller.

Frost’s much shorter prose form doesn’t have the detail that drives the reader to feel one way or the other about the path. Just that, they have to accept the author’s resolution in that doing so was correct.  Stanton has the ability to give much more detail and as it is the opening to the story of her life the reader is left feeling that she is just as resolute on the way she has gone.