PDF Mary Wollstonecraft ✓ A Vindication of the Rights of Woman MOBI ´ ✓

The First Edition of this Norton Critical Edition was both an acclaimed classroom text and ahead of its time This second edition offers the best in Wollstonecraft scholarship and criticism since 1976 providing the ideal means for studying the first feminist document in English


10 thoughts on “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

  1. says:

    Wollstonecraft is not passionate; she does not offer any inspiring words or flowery language Wollstonecraft writes with no embellishment or artistry; yet her words are commanding and exceedingly persuasive because what she does have is cold hard logic And she knows it “My own sex I hope will excuse me if I treat them like rational creatures instead of flattering their fascinating graces and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood unable to stand alone” She refused to appeal to the sensibilities and imaginations of her readers Instead she wished to display her rational intellect an intellect free of flights of fancy and one that had the ability to access the situation in all its reality She argued that women in their current state had no means of proving their worth She believed that women were physically inferior to men but in terms of intellect they were eual and that they so desperately needed a noble edifying pursuit in which to show this Wollstonecraft offers many compelling arguments in here though for me her most logical pertains to human progress; she argues that without education it will simply stop a very true point Humanity needs to continue to develop but this is impossible if only half of humanity is educated She argues that women cannot teach their children if they in turn are not educated How can she impart any wisdom or teach any sense of patriotism if she has not learnt to love mankind? Wollstonecraft believed that the key to overturning sexism began and ended with education “Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it and there will be an end to blind obedience”Due to the lack of education women recieved Wollstonecraft suggests that they have been rendered wretched and weak They are merely classified as females rather than members of mankind She wants to see women take on manly ualities well traits associated with manhood She wanted to break the oppressive gender boundaries that limited the faculty of her sex As such she was satirised by many novelists and critics for being manly herself The ironic thing is that such a label only serves to achieve what she is arguing for She wanted women to be many to be eual to men However Wollstonecraft was at times very condescending towards women Whilst she does not blame them for their predicament that blame lays at the door of the patriarchy and men in general she does chastise them for not trying to break through their shackles Though what she fails to recognise is that for many women they do not have the benefit of looking beyond earning enough money to get through the week and looking after their families Wollstonecraft is distinctively middle class and as such at times she lacks the ability to empathise with the reality of the situation some women will find themselves in She also undervalues the lessons and teachings uneducated people can still pass on to their children the value of hard work and honesty for example Such minor issues with her writing by no means downplay the power and logic behind her arguments arguments that would go on to inspire the next generation of writers including her daughter and her daughter’s husband no doubt I also noticed some very particular phrasing that was later mirrored almost verbatim in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre Wollstonecraft’s ideas were carried further by a medium she deplored the novel She really underestimated its power as a learning device Wollstonecraft is certainly a powerful literary figure to be admired and this as a seminal work in the development of feminism is certainly a work of undying success and potency


  2. says:

    OH MY GOD this uncoventional feminist woman is mother of Mary Shelley the author of Frankenstein who was one of my favorite author only after Rowling Wilde Plathetc? SHELLEY you never tell me how cool your mother was I thought we were best friends


  3. says:

    Reading this messy brilliant book gave me that strange impression you sometimes get with essayists – of encountering a perfectly modern mind that is trapped in the past looking around with modern sensibilities and baffled by what it sees The effect now is not one of genius but merely of contemporary common sense applied somehow magically anachronistically At one point during a close reading of Rousseau Wollstonecraft adds an asterisk and comments simply in a footnote ‘What nonsense’ Here you have the book in two words a smart woman looking around at late eighteenth century London and saying What nonsenseYet despite the timelessness its context is important A couple of years before this came out Burke had published his famous conservative critiue of popular uprisings Reflections on the Revolution in France and Mary Wollstonecraft had been or less the first to react tearing off A Vindication of the Rights of Men just a few weeks later She would be followed by many others not least her occasional dinner companion Thomas Paine but while the rest of them wittered on about inherent freedoms she was the only one to look around and consider the novelty of extending those freedoms to the other half of the species So this follow up was written in a specifically revolutionary context and was intended as she says ‘to effect a revolution in female manners’This general ‘down with the nobs’ anti aristocratic sensibility is for Wollstonecraft a handy analogue for all that is wrong with female socialisation She euates women with rich military officers whose primary concern is to look dashing or with titled nobility – for ‘wealth and female softness eually tend to debase mankind and are produced by the same cause’A king is always a king – and a woman always a woman his authority and her sex ever stand between them and rational converseThe point of similarity is the fact that both women and monarchs are pictured as separate higher beings by ordinary men – but in the case of women it's even pernicious because it's based on an underlying assertion of inferiority A woman is ‘exalted on a uicksand’ view spoilerthis reminded me vertiginously of Stoya talking about being ‘put on a pedestal in a trash can’ hide spoiler


  4. says:

    Idly I wondered if to kiss the rod in the context of women's behaviour after being chastised by her husband was meant to be a double entendre but probably not as she is high minded but luckily I made my idle observation in a dejected off hand way because later she says Respect for man as man is the foundation of every noble sentiment How much modest is the libertine who obeys the call of appetite or fancy than the lewd joker who sets the table in a roar p232 so shame on you if you were tempted to smile at the thought of rod kissingI did allow myself to be intimidated in to putting off reading this book which has been languishing on the shelf since last year despite reading her impressively passionate Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden Norway and Denmark in part by the terrifying title vindication rights woman All suggestive of great earnestness and grappling with fundamental issues small wonder I plead that I allowed myself to be distracted by lascivious and light hearted reading Though plainly Mary W is also an absolutely sweet person and if one was through odd circumstances transported back in time to 1790s London one would be sure to drag her in off the street from the rain push her into an armchair by the fire give her tea view spoiler only though with sugar not made by slave labour hide spoiler


  5. says:

    35 4★“ as blind obedience is ever sought for by power tyrants and sensualists are in the right when they endeavour to keep women in the dark because the former only want slaves and the latter a play thing”I saw reference several times to Mary Wollstonecraft around International Women’s Day recently and thought I should find this book I read and enjoyed about a third of it but I eventually got bogged down in the repletition and the language The English literary style of the late 1700s is not easily skimmed and I really just wanted a sense of her propositions not chapter and verseI know I didn't read it all but I read enough to recognise its importance and her passion for which I give her four starsShe certainly lets the fellows have it with both barrels She freuently says that what might pass for an acceptable lifestyle in the seraglio harem is hardly an appropriate goal for young women She rails against the injustice of ineuality of power The power of the rich over the poor men over women and men over soldiers who go straight into the military with no other educationShe hopes women won’t take offense at her appealing to their good sense and seeming to overlook their feminine attractions “My own sex I hope will excuse me if I treat them like rational creatures instead of flattering their FASCINATING graces and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood unable to stand alone”If that’s all women ever learn – how to be simpering couettes then no wonder men tire of them eventually when “they are taken out of their sphere of duties and made ridiculous and useless when the short lived bloom of beauty is over Footnote A lively writer I cannot recollect his name asks what business women turned of forty have to do in the world”Anyone here over 40? You might as well give it up nowIt’s not just women she’s fighting for though that was revolutionary enough She was after euality generally She’s not happy with royalty or with lords and ladies the silly ones who spend all day on their fading looks“ the euality there is established among men the virtue and happiness will reign in society After attacking the sacred majesty of kings I shall scarcely excite surprise by adding my firm persuasion that every profession in which great subordination of rank constitutes its power is highly injurious to morality”Women were to be uneducated except in household duties protected and innocent“Children I grant should be innocent; but when the epithet is applied to men or women it is but a civil term for weakness”Well said Mary Forewarned is forearmed Turn the light on and wake women up“Gentleness docility and a spaniel like affection are on this ground consistently recommended as the cardinal virtues of the sex; and disregarding the arbitrary economy of nature one writer has declared that it is masculine for a woman to be melancholy She was created to be the toy of man his rattle and it must jingle in his ears whenever dismissing reason he chooses to be amused”Toy my foot And she goes on about both men and women being physically fit and active instead of sitting around these days not enough battles??? and that’s about where I left herShe died not long after giving birth to her daughter Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley author of Frankenstein and wife of famous poet many of us read in school Percy Bysshe Shelley uite a family Her work is available for free now online


  6. says:

    A Vindication of the Rights of Woman is an early work of the feminist canon Written in the late 18th century this work brings out Wollstonecraft's views and theories on how to improve and cultivate the minds of women so that they could become better citizens Though the time wasn't ripe and the society wasn't ready to receive such ideas pouring from a woman's mind nonetheless it held thoughts that are valuable and worthy to consider The whole context of her work is revolved around one goal That is to expound on how to elevate the minds and persons of women Wollstonecraft was of the opinion that the present inferior condition of the person and state of mind of women was injurious to society Women were raised from their childhood with one idea instilled in their minds and that is to please men They were taught all the charming trivialities and little domestic duties so they can catch a husband But the uestion is how are they to hold on to that catch to the mutual satisfaction? Without any cultivation of the mind can a woman become the companion or friend of her husband when the initial passion dies? And can a woman even become a good mother and a child's first teacher when she is no than an overgrown child herself? The answer to these uestions says Wollstonecraft is a big No And to this problem she provides the following solutions If women are to become good wives and prudent mothers their minds and persons need to be developed in such a manner that they become rational beings able to reason and judge for themselves and be of strong physical constitution The only solution to achieve this state in self is to educate women correctly Theirs shouldn't be a sham education where only domestic duties and good etiuette are taught It must be an education that exercises their faculties and make them able to think for themselves to judge what is right from wrong for themselves without depending on their male counterpart To achieve the state of the physical self they need to be allowed some sort of exercise not vigorous but suitable for women's constitution to become strong beings and not sick weaklings once their youthful bloom is over All these can be achieved only through a properly guided education If this is not done and women continue to be the silly and inferior beings and they have knowledge only to charm and please men they will be unfit wives and twice over unfit mothers The result will be marital disharmony and domestic disorder Mary Wollstonecraft's opinions and theories address the women's position of her time which is three centuries ago For this reason some of her ideas are uite outdated Yet some of her views especially on women's education still stand true to some extent Even in modern day we find some ineuality in male and female education around the world I'm not uite aware of how this work was received in her lifetime but I presume that the time was not right and that society wasn't ready to receive and concede them Nevertheless A Vindication of the Rights of Women is an important piece of literature in the feminine canon And a crown of laurel must be presented to Mary Wollstonecraft from that half of the human race who benefitted from education for standing up and voicing strongly on women's education at a time when it was so looked down upon eually by both sexes


  7. says:

    This work of literature is particularly significant because of when it was written Published in 1792 it is often referenced as being the founding text or manifesto of Western feminism The author was writing in reaction to contemporary Enlightenment philosophers who had extolled the use of reason for determining proper political and social reforms but had failed to properly consider the role of women Mary Wollstonecraft in her writing was concerned that some of these age of reason writers had incorrectly ie failed to use reason in determining the proper role of women Many of these writers had suggested that women should only concern themselves with domestic affairs and stay out of the political arena In her response she acknowledged she herself was critical of the prevailing behavior of many women but she maintained that their undesirable behavior was a product of their lack of correct eduction and social and cultural expectations imposed on themWollstonecraft maintained that women will be either the companions of men or their slaves She believed that in a true age of reason men and women should be companions adhering to the same truths and moral values She also thought it was important that women be well educated to enable them to teach their children to become good citizens It is my understanding that most intellectuals responded favorably to this book when it was first published However later hostility to the work arose because of the demise of the author’s reputation caused by her husband’s memoirs published about her life In this memoir he mention her freuent disregard of traditional 18th century morality In that regard she was ahead of her time in than one wayThe writing style is obviously a product of late 18th century vocabulary and social concerns In particular her freuent used of the words “sensibility” and “virtue” reuire some elaboration for a 21st century reader I’m not sure I’m ualified to clarify their meanings but I’ll provide my general impressions It seemed to me that “sensibility” as used by this author refers to susceptibility for having emotional feelings and when applied to women those feelings are often irrational With regard to the word “virtue” I was also bothered by what the author meant when she at one point admitted that “men seem to be designed by Providence to attain a greater degree of virtue” In this context she must be including physical strength as part of what constitutes virtue During a discussion of this book with Great Books KC it was pointed out to me that the word virtue comes from the Latin root vir for man Thus the early definition for virtue was manliness or valor Over time it settled into the sense of moral excellence Thus Wollstonecraft may have been influenced by her knowledge of the word's origins when she made the statement uoted aboveAnother thought I've had about this book is that it's kind of like the Bible It contains so much varied narrative that by selectively choosing certain uotations a reader can come to a variety of contradictory conclusions This is apparent in the Wikipedia article about the book There have been a variety of commentary's written about the book's contents that have reached differing interpretations One interesting issue to note is that Wollstonecraft was not sufficiently extreme in her call for women's rights to fit the definition of feminism as it later evolved Thus my statement in the first paragraph of this review about it being the founding manifesto of the feminist movement needs an asterisk explaining that not all feminist would be comfortable with that characterization


  8. says:

    HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY TO EVERYBODY Make them free and they will uickly become wise and virtuous as men become so; for the improvement must be mutual or the injustice which one half of the human race are obliged to submit to retorting on their oppressors the virtue of man will be worm eaten by the insect whom he keeps under his feetMary Wollstonecraft 1759 1797Mary Wollstonecraft by John Opie c 1797


  9. says:

    As convenient as it can sometimes be a disadvantage of reading from anthologies is that one can graduate from college with the vague notion that one has read a work in its entirety only to discover later that in fact one has read only a page and a half of it in a long forgotten Eighteenth Century British Literature class Which as you may have guessed is exactly what happened to me with Mary Wollstonecraft's seminal 1792 treatise A Vindication of the Rights of Woman I'm happy to have rectified my mistake at last and read Vindication from cover to cover Unsurprisingly Wollstonecraft's arguments assume a significant degree complexity and idiosyncrasy on what I had until recently been thinking of as my second time throughAnd in fact as much as she would probably have disapproved of the comment it was Wollstonecraft's own character that particularly appealed to me throughout this reading I agreed with her on some points and disagreed with her on others but throughout I enjoyed her forthrightness her willingness to use a modern phrase to call bullshit on all the male arguments used to claim that women's natural state is one of gentle slavish devotion and that women should not be allowed physical or mental exertion In her impatience with sickly sweet yet fundamentally condescending verbiage about the angelic innocence of women and with male writers' self serving insistence that women are formed for the sole purpose of pleasing men I spied a kindred spirit and was cheering and sometimes out of recognition chuckling along with her outrage I love how for example halfway through a passage uoted from Rousseau on his proposed method of educating women she can't stand to wait until the end to comment and appends a footnote reading only What nonsense Neither is she afraid of the exclamation point Without knowledge there can be no morality she exclaims and Ignorance is a frail base for virtue I felt throughout however that she earned those exclamation points these are infuriatingly simple and logical conclusions that are nonetheless STILL often disregarded when we educate girls to be sexy rather than smart charming and flighty rather than honest and self respectingI particularly object to the lover like phrases of pumped up passion which are every where interspersed in Fordyce's sermons If women be ever allowed to walk without leading strings why must they be cajoled into virtue by artful flattery and sexual compliments? Speak to them the language of truth and soberness and away with the lullaby strains of condescending endearment Let them be taught to respect themselves as rational creatures and not led to have a passion for their own insipid persons It moves my gall to hear a preacher descanting on dress and needle work; and still to hear him address the British fair the fairest of the fair as if they had only feelingsI'm reminded of the men who yell at me as I walk down the street lost in thought You'd be prettier if you smiled As if being eye candy for random men is somehow supposed to be my top priority Oh sorry I forgot to think about PLEASING STRANGE MEN while I was cogitating on existential literature And againTo carry the remark still further if fear in girls instead of being cherished perhaps created were treated in the same manner as cowardice in boys we should uickly see women with dignified aspects It is true they could not then with eual propriety be termed the sweet flowers that smile in the walk of man; but they would be respectable members of society and discharge the important duties of life by the light of their own reason 'Educate women like men' says Rousseau 'and the they resemble our sex the less power will they have over us' This is the very point I aim at I do not wish them to have power over men; but over themselvesTHANK YOU MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT Her discussions of what has come to be called the male gaze—the way in which girls and women are taught to think always of how their conduct will appear to men and act accordingly rather than acting to please themselves or in accordance with what is most appropriate to the situation—struck me as particularly insightful In the paragraph following the one I uoted on Fordyce for example she points out that he a preacher tries to lure women into religious piety by arguing that men find it sexually attractive when women are lost in pious contemplation Seriously how insulting I'm not even religious and I understand how disrespectful that argument is to the deeply held beliefs of people engaged with their faith And yet have things really changed? I'm reminded of so called womens' magazines and the arguments they use to convince women to go to the gym it's all about appearing sexually attractive to a potential partner; and only lip service is paid to the idea that a woman would value herself enough to want to make her body stronger and healthier for her own sakeNot that there weren't areas where Wollstonecraft and I diverge She shares for example the common Enlightenment belief in humankind's ability to approach perfection through rational discourse to achieve a state closer to God through the application of reason Although I agree with her that men and women both benefit by the freuent exercise of their physical and mental faculties I'm skeptical about how perfectible or rational the human race or any individual really is Moreover either because or in spite of my religious atheismagnosticism I tend to find Enlightenment arguments about the human ability to know God through logic a bit sillyThe only solid foundation for morality appears to be the character of the supreme Being; the harmony of which arises from a balance of attributes;—and to speak with reverence one attribute seems to imply the necessity of another He must be just because he is wise he must be good because he is omnipotentI mean what? Judeo Christian friends is that sound theology? Why does one uality necessarily imply the others? I can easily imagine omnipotence without goodness for example just like every day I experience perfectly robust morality with no particular basis in divinity Arguments like this always strike me as simply a human being imagining all the good things he can think of combining them in his imagination into one Being and then claiming that because he can conceptualize this Being it must exist And when I say he I mean Descartes But apparently Mary Wollstonecraft as well It's as if I made a drawing of my dream house and then claimed that because I drew it it must be available for purchase My drawing doesn't prove that the house isn't available; but neither is it proof that it isNot only that but in her uest to agitate for the education of women as strong rational creatures Wollstonecraft veers so far in favor of strength and reason that she leaves little room for human vulnerability Take the passage uoted above for example on the treatment of fear in girls and boys While I agree that kids shouldn't be encouraged to be shrieking and cowering away from every little thing when they wouldn't be doing that naturally I can hardly agree that their fear should be treated like that of boys in the sense of being sternly reprimanded shamed told that boys don't cry and so on My personal ideal for both genders is a happy medium between the affected over sensitivity that has historically been associated with women and the repressive uncommunicative stoicism that has often been expected of men Humans feel fear tenderness anger and so on for reasons and it's illogical and unwise in my opinion to teach children to distort or disregard their true feelings rather than acknowledging those feelings and taking them into account when deciding how to act Not of course that a passing emotion should be the ONLY criterion for action; just that it should be ideally one piece of valid data among others Moreover there's a difference between fear and cowardice; in euating the two it seems to me Wollstonecraft is removing the possibility of courage which I'd define as following through on a difficult action despite feeling afraid And in passing Wollstonecraft's aversion to instinct struck me as one of the strangest facets of the book She denigrates it even to the point of arguing that animal instinct somehow doesn't reflect her God Thus sensibility is defined by Dr Johnson and the definition gives me no other idea than of the most exuisitely polished instinct I discern not a trace of the image of God in either sensation or matter Yet where else would it come from given her own belief in an all powerful creator Being? I realize that for Enlightenment thinkers the gift of reason is what elevates humans above animals but surely a benevolent God wouldn't endow the animals with an outright malevolent uality? A very odd if minor pointLike most philosophers then Wollstonecraft takes certain positions with which I personally disagree; her feminism is unsurprisingly neither so radical nor so inclusive as that of certain recent writers Still as an early passionate step toward female euality not to mention as a document of the tumultuous times Wollstonecraft's argument is very tied up with the Republican rhetoric of democracy and euality which were giving rise to the American and French revolutions Vindication of the Rights of Woman is an important and thought provoking read and one I'm glad to have in my repertoire


  10. says:

    I particularly liked the bit where she said if women didn't get a proper education they might find themselves dependent on the novelist for amusementAwkward