How does Catherine the Great "measure up" to Mary Wollstonecraft's view of the ideal wife, mother and woman?

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marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If I had to rate Catherine the Great's success at being the ideal wife, mother, and woman on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the highest), she would get miserable numbers.

First of all, during her marriage, she had many illicit love affairs with Russian nobles.  That, to me, is not the example of a faithful and dutiful wife.  This earns her about a 1 on the "measuring up" scale.

Secondly, although it's not been proven she was involved, her husband was deposed from the throne and later assasinated.  It seems that she should have done more to see that he retained his throne and was protected.  This, too, earns her about a 1. 

Thirdly, there is skepticism over the biological father of Catherine's firstborn, Paul I.  Some claim that his father, Peter III could not have been his real father because he was sterile.  Others claim Paul's father might have been one of Catherine's lovers at the time.  Historians also allude to the fact that Catherine hated her son

and was only restrained from putting him to death while he was still a boy by the fear of what the consequences of another palace crime might be to herself.

In other records, however, she is represented as being a kind mother.  Who's to say?  Anyway, I don't think she was a very good mother so I'd have to only give her only a 5 on that count!

But, as a woman, I would give her a hearty 10.  She was gracious, ladylike, and dignified in her role as empress.  Whatever was lacking in her personal life faded into oblivion the moment she stepped into her throneroom or personal office.  She took the reins of government and politics and guided Russia with wisdom and efficiency.  In that department, she truly excelled!

Total tally on the "measuring up" standards set by Mary Wollstonecraft:  4.5.


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