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Vindication of the Rights of Woman and The…

Vindication of the Rights of Woman and The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria…

by Mary Wollstonecraft

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"The rights and duties of man thus simplified, it seems almost impertinent to attempt to illustrate truths that appear so incontrovertible; yet such deeply rooted prejudices have clouded reason, and such spurious qualities have assumed the name of virtues, that it is necessary to pursue the course of reason as it has been perplexed and involved in error, by various adventitious circumstances, comparing the simple axiom with casual deviations." (From Chapter 1)

It is a mission getting through this essay. It's lengthy, and seems repetitive at some points, but you have to understand where she's coming from. Most of the male population probably needed these points to be repeated over and over and over again before understanding and believing them (hell, some of the male population after 200 years or so STILL doesn't get it).

Nevertheless, it makes many important points that probably helped shaped feminism; about how women who are uneducated are actually a burden on society, the contradiction that women are treated both as (sexual) objects and as children, how women are made fun of for being fragile and ignorant when they aren't allowed to move out of that state -

This work I think is hugely important in understanding the Jane Austen novels. There is no doubt that Austen actually paraphrases Wollstonecraft's arguments at many points throughout her body of work. Not to mention that it actually gives some sort of background to how women were treated a generation before Austen, and it is obvious that some of the problems Wollstonecraft addresses still persist in Austen's novels.

(P.S: I'm not gonna lie, I didn't read the novel.)

  est-lm | May 3, 2014 |
She had something to say, and this is an important book in its own right, but by goodness was she a bad writer of fiction... ( )
  BeeQuiet | Jun 2, 2010 |
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The most influential feminist thinker in the Romantic period, and the leading theorist of what we now call liberal or "equality" feminism, Mary Wollstonecraft learned firsthand the ways in which patriarchal society oppressed women. - Introduction to The Rights of Woman by Anne K. Mellor
Sir, Having read with great pleasure a pamphlet which you have lately published, I dedicate this volume to you; to induce you to reconsider the subject, and maturely weigh what I have advanced respecting the rights of woman and national education: and I call with the firm tone of humanity; for my arguments, Sir are dictated by a disinterested spirit - I plead for my sex - not for myself. - A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Five years after publishing 'A Vindiction of the Rights of Woman', Wollstonecraft began a sequel, a novel in which she laid bare the social evils and legal injustices perpetrated against women in late eighteenth-century England. - Introduction to The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria by Anne K. Mellor
Abodes of horror have frequently been described, and castles, filled with sceptres and chimeras, conjured up by the magic spell of genius to harrow the soul, and absorb the wondering mind. - The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0321182731, Paperback)

From Longman's Cultural Editions series, Wollstonecraft, edited by Anne K. Mellor and Noelle Chao, for the first time pairs Wollstonecraft’s feminist tract, the first in English letters, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, with her unfinished novel, The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria.


By putting tract and novel together, this text presents a far richer and more complex discussion of Wollstonecraft’s political and literary opinions. A wealth of cultural contexts bearing on the “wrongs” of woman (their social and political oppression) in the 18th century and on the development of the Gothic and realist novel further clarify these two texts.


Handsomely produced and affordably priced, the Longman Cultural Editions series presents classic works in provocative and illuminating contexts-cultural, critical, and literary. Each Cultural Edition consists of the complete text of an important literary work, reliably edited, headed by an inviting introduction, and supplemented by helpful annotations; a table of dates to track its composition, publication, and public reception in relation to biographical, cultural and historical events; and a guide for further inquiry and study.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:19 -0400)

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