Sample Paper About “Jane Sharp: Midwifery since the Eighteenth Century”

Jane Sharp was among the earliest practitioners in the art of midwifery to document her experiences and perspectives on the profession in a written text. Her text had a feministic attribute drawing from the fact that most writing about midwifery had been done in foreign languages (Greek and Latin) with a significant majority of these texts written by men. In Sharp’s view this was unconventional drawing from the fact that midwifery had been, at least in practice, the preserve of women. As such, Sharp found it problematic that a profession that had mainly been practiced by women had to be described by men in midwifery texts. Practical knowledge as well as speculative knowledge was a central theme in Sharp’s text. Similarly, the work also has a religious inclination which offers insight into the identity of sharp’s character and personal influences.


Sharp begins the text with a powerful calling to all midwives. This is the case drawing from the fact that she resorts to being inspirational and goes forth to acknowledge midwifery as a doubtlessly profession and one of the most necessary and useful practices for the wellbeing of mankind. Subsequently, she humbly begs the assistance of the Almighty God to come forth and aid midwives inn their vocation. In a more direct sense Sharp specifically invokes God to substantiate her praise of the female sexuality. She resorts to over-glorify the female anatomy whereby she ‘marvels at the works of the Lord’ when describing the cervix and the vagina.
To English midwives, Sharp offers a solemn plea in consideration of the numerous miseries women are forced to endure drawing from the poor service of unskilled midwives. In this sense Sharp is ideally calling for higher professional and moral standards in midwifery whereby she shares her concerns that some midwifes do not meet the expected standards. As opposed to being critical, Sharp chooses to vindicate women midwifes by expressing her frustration that midwives do not have access to higher education.


The lack of access to university education has reduced the number of opportunities for women to gain superior knowledge related to anatomy and other human sciences which could have been gained by reading specialist books or attending lectures. This is the case drawing from the fact that the available text at the time were written in Latin and Greek whereby they were inaccessible to many women in England. To correct this trend, Sharp in turn called for midwifery texts to be rendered in mother tongue arguing that the most ideal midwife had to have access to both theoretical or speculative knowledge as well as practical knowledge. In this sense Sharp is primarily establishing the role of both types of knowledge in the professional practice of midwifery. As such, the trend that existed at the time in which women lacked access to the theoretical or speculative knowledge was not ideal because it hindered progress in midwifery by failing to expose women to proper professional standards.


In Sharp’s view midwifery is better left in the hands of women. In order to lift midwifery to impeccable antecedents, at least in a professional sense, Sharp encourages female midwives to better their surgical as well as pharmacological techniques which are especially critical during emergencies and pregnancy complications. This is a better option as opposed to depending on male doctors’ intervention. Despite the fact that the theoretical knowledge usually gained by men in institutions of higher learning including colleges and universities have a superior touch compared to female knowledge, men lack practical experience. Midwives should subsequently seize this opportunity and increase their practical experience through long and diligent practice. This practical experience in addition to written knowledge is better compared to sole dependence on theoretical knowledge. This is the reason why Sharp contends that it is not words alone that perform the work.

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275 words