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Mary and The Wrongs of Woman

by Mary Wollstonecraft

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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336267,120 (3.07)1
'I have lately written...a tale, to illustrate an opinion of mine, that a genius will educate itself.'Mary Wollstonecraft is best known for her pioneering views on the rights of women to share equal rights and opportunities with men. Expressed most forcefully in her Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), her forthright opinions also inform her two innovative novels, Mary and The Wrongs ofWoman, a fictional sequel to the Vindication. In both novels the heroines have to rely on their own resources to establish their independence and intellectual development. Mary learns to take control of her destiny and become a social philanthropist, while Maria, in The Wrongs of Woman, fightsimprisonment and a loveless marriage to claim her rights.Strongly autobiographical, both novels powerfully complement Wollstonecraft's non-fictional writing, inspired by the French Revolution and the social upheavals that followed.… (more)
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"Do all suffer like me; or am I framed so as to be particularly susceptible of misery?"
By sally tarbox on 30 December 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
The introduction to this work notes that 'Mary' "explores the position of an alienated intellectual woman and, in portraying her struggle against the constraints of a claustrophobic feminine world, began a line that would include the more substantial heroines of 'Jane Eyre' and 'Villette'."

I would only give 'Mary' a tentative *2.5, but the reader can certainly see it as a precursor to Bronte's later works of genius. This is a short (60p) story, partly autobiographical, where the independent heroine - after being married off against her will - accompanies her consumptive friend to Portugal. A principled, Christian woman, who delights in helping others, Mary observes life and the people around her. And falls in love for the first time... And as she wretchedly sails for England ""the tempest in her soul rendered every other trifling - it was not the contending elements but herself she feared".
I got into this more as I determinedly kept on with it, but I wouldn't call it reading for pleasure.

'Maria' (or 'The Wrongs of Woman'), written ten years later is a much more accomplished work. Very Gothic/ Romantic, the story opens with our eponymous heroine finding herself incarcerated in a lunatic asylum. The reader soon becomes aware that she is quite sane, and as she converses with her wardress, (and later a male inmate - also wrongfully detained - we come to know the stories of all three. Very much a vehicle for the author to continue the theme of her earlier 'Vindication of the Rights of Woman', we read of corrupt husbands having jurisdiction over their wives' money and automatic custody of their children, while the working-class wardress Jemima, tells of abuse by her employers, the plight of unmarried mothers and the way many are forced into prostitution. The opportunities of women as against those of their male counterparts are vastly worse. Although this story stops at a reasonable point, the appendix explains that the author had plans for further chapters, and gives an outline of the intended plot. A fairly interesting read. ( )
  starbox | Dec 29, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wollstonecraft, MaryAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Todd, Janet M.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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(Mary) Mary, the heroine of this fiction, was the daughter of Edward, who married Eliza, a gentle, fashionable girl, with a kind of indolence in her temper, which might be termed negative good-nature: her virtues, indeed, were all of that stamp.
(Maria) Abodes of horror have frequently been described, and castles, filled with spectres and chimeras, conjured up by the magic spell of genius to harrow the soul, and absorb the wondering mind.
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Mary (full title: Mary: A Fiction) and Maria, or the Wrongs of Women (often abbreviated simply The Wrongs of Women to avoid confusion with the former) are completely different books. This work (Oxford World's Classics edition or otherwise) contains BOTH books. Please do not combine it with Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman.
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'I have lately written...a tale, to illustrate an opinion of mine, that a genius will educate itself.'Mary Wollstonecraft is best known for her pioneering views on the rights of women to share equal rights and opportunities with men. Expressed most forcefully in her Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), her forthright opinions also inform her two innovative novels, Mary and The Wrongs ofWoman, a fictional sequel to the Vindication. In both novels the heroines have to rely on their own resources to establish their independence and intellectual development. Mary learns to take control of her destiny and become a social philanthropist, while Maria, in The Wrongs of Woman, fightsimprisonment and a loveless marriage to claim her rights.Strongly autobiographical, both novels powerfully complement Wollstonecraft's non-fictional writing, inspired by the French Revolution and the social upheavals that followed.

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In 'Mary' the author explores the position of an alienated intellectual woman, and in portraying her struggle against the constraints of a claustrophobic feminine world, began a line that would include the more substantial heroines of Jane Eyre and Villette. In the posthumously published Maria (1798) she continues in fiction the arguments of the Vindication.
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