The queen philosopher
The philosopher Queen
In chapter eight, we are introduced to queen Christina of Sweden, who is very interested in philosophy and the works of Descartes. Although she is not represented in a negative way in the text, it becomes evident that she is very much interested in philosophy, which is why she went on to emphasis that Descartes be brought to her, and that he becomes her private tutor, teaching her philosophy at five in the morning. According to Gustav Schulter, the valet to Descartes;
"22-year-old Christina was not to be denied",
This meant that she went for what she wanted until she got it. This was the case with Descartes.
By this time, Descartes had become a very popular philosopher, who had created a great deal of controversy with his philosophy. While some regarded him an atheist, some like the Calvinists in Netherlands accused him of heresy. Regardless, the queen of Sweden was very fascinated by his work, and wanted him to be her tutor. Although it had been predicted that the king would have a son (that Christina would be born a boy) this was not the case. However, the king went on to have her raised like a man. She therefore grew up to be a strong athletic young woman, who never slept for more than five hours. Having been brought in such a manner, Christina would not play the role of a woman as did other women, who were simply expected to take up their traditional roles as women such as giving birth to children, taking care of the home, caring for children and caring for their husbands etc. Rather, she should not even get married. Rather than accept things as they were, she would ask questions for clarifications as was the case with Descartes, who she questions about the blunders in his dualist theory.
In many ways, Queen Christina was like modern women, who have refused to settle for traditional roles of women as wives and mothers. Christina spent about twelve hours a day on sports and on her studies. She could write and speak 5 languages and even enjoyed hunting bears. These were mainly activities associated with men during her time, while women were mostly expected to take care of their homes as wives and mothers. Today, are competing with men in all areas of life and have taken up major roles in the society. For instance, women are serving in the military, as teachers and professors, as politicians and even as presidents.
Women therefore no longer accept being sidelined in any arena, and contribute equally as men. Unlike 19th and even 20th century, more and more women are finding it necessary to first strive to achieve their economic and academic goals before getting married and having children. This has been a great number of women not only getting higher education in colleges and universities, but also advancing their education to masters and doctorate levels. On other hand, for women with children, they are also raising their children and taking care of their families while still getting an education and also working, which proves their commitment to succeeding in life.
Women are therefore fully liberated from the norms that had been set by men and are free to do whatever they wish. While some have argued that this has affected the family setting in that children do not get enough care from the mothers, there are many pros of the liberation of women. For instance, women today have their rights and cannot be married off at a young age (below the age of 18) cannot be forced in to marriage, can participate in family planning with their husbands or partners and can take charge of their own lives among others. This ensures that women are treated like adults and get to make their own decisions. It also ensures that they are not mistreated as less equal to men as was the case in the 19th century and earlier in most societies. As a strong woman, Christina challenges Descartes to get out of his comfort zone, pushing him to start waking up early and answer her questions regarding his own philosophy. This ultimately proves too much for Descartes, who can no longer cope with the morning routines and the cold weather.