1. How does Friedrich Gentz distinguish between the American and French Revolutions? Do you see the influence of Edmund Burke in his thinking?
Friedrich Gentz saw the American Revolution as an attempt by the colonists to return to a way of life that they had previously enjoyed. The American colonies had previously been mostly left alone by the government in London, and had become accustomed to this kind of treatment. However, when the king started imposing new taxes and laws on the colonies, many people viewed them as a violation of their rights as Englishmen and rebelled against them.
As for the French Revolution, as a major break from tradition with no clear goal in mind. In France, revolutionaries were not trying to stop the government from making changes to a society they liked, they were trying to do away with the old society completely and build a new one in its place. Since nobody could agree on what the perfect society was, the result of the revolution was a power struggle between different factions in France.
Friedrich Gentz was in complete agreement with Edmund Burke. Gentz has read Burke’s writings about the French Revolution and added his thoughts about the revolution in America to them. So I’d say that Edmund Burke’s thoughts did have some influence.
2. What points is Mary Wollstonecraft making in the excerpts you read from the beginning of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman? What would she like to see changed in European society?
The biggest point I’d like to mention is she states that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason.
Being treated equally in such a way that women should receive education and have the same kind of intellect as men do.