Making a Connection: Carlyle’s ‘Everlasting Yea’ and Martineau’s ‘Society in America’

At a first glance, Martineau’s discussion on the lack of political power for women appears very different from Carlyle’s revelations in finding euphoric closure after a long conversion. But, both Carlyle and Martineau’s ideas can be linked together through John Locke. The “consent of the governed” that Martineau discusses, comes directly from Locke’s Second Treatsie where Locke tries to argue against the divine right of kings, the belief that the king’s bloodline and right to rule comes directly from God. Carlyle babbles on about “the beginning of Creation being Light” and “the Son of Man” and other religious references. One might assume here that Locke and Martineau are on one side supporting government and Carlyle favoring religion on the other. However, an argument for a strict dichotomy between Locke and Martineau’s discussions on government and Carlyle’s narrative involving religion, is simply inaccurate. Locke was not anti-God or anti-Christian, he simply wanted to reframe the mindset on where political power derives from, he still believed in God. Locke argues for a “better government,” but doesn’t specifically endorse equality between all genders, just all property-owning men. The ideas that Martineau grew her argument off of, were created by a man whose beliefs about religion and the role of men align far closer to Carlyle than Martineau. So while Carlyle and Martineau’s discussions on the surface seem different, where they are grown from is a similar source.

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