Throughout Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s 1848 “Address on Woman’s Rights,” sun and sunlight symbolize the dawn of a new era of history, in which women are given equal rights in global society. Several times throughout the speech, Stanton speaks of women’s present obscurity in society. They are relegated to dark, cramped homes and prevented from being intellectually illuminated through education. They’re not permitted to participate in public life or to vote. Women are languishing in a “half-developed” form, according to Stanton—but they long to stand under the “full blaze of the sun.” Stanton refers literally to women’s desire to stand in the sun—to freely leave their homes and the other interior spaces to which they’ve been confined—and metaphorically to their desire to stand in the “light” of knowledge and power. The women’s movement, Stanton predicts, will bring a new “dawn” of openness and equality—and that dawn will give way to a bright and “flashing sunlight” that will nourish global society and allow it to grow into something better.
Sunlight Quotes in Address on Woman’s Rights
Suffice it to say for the present, that wherever we turn the history of woman is sad and drear and dark, without any alleviating circumstances, nothing from which we can draw consolation. As the nations of the earth emerge from a state of barbarism, the sphere of woman gradually becomes wider but not even under what is thought to be the full blaze of the sun of civilization is it what God designed it to be.
A new era is dawn<ing upon the world, […] when the millions now under the iron heel of the tyrant will assert their manhood, when woman yielding to the voice of the spirit within her will demand the recognition of her humanity, when her soul, grown too large for her chains, will burst the bands around her set and stand redeemed….
The slumber is broken and the sleeper has risen.