Mary Wollstonecraft: A Radical Englishwoman

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Mary Wollstonecraft: A Radical Englishwoman

Mary Wollstonecraft lived in a time where women had no right to vote, no right to education beyond what their mother or governess taught them, and basically no right to individuality or an opinion. They were considered possessions and virtually had no mind of their own. She realized that this was a problem of society and openly voiced her opinions on the matter. She wrote the book A Vindication of the Rights of Women in response to a literary response to the society's so-called proper behavior of a woman and what her rights should be. But her opinions were brought on by more that the ability to think for herself; she suffered much during her childhood and throughout the years to come. Wollstonecraft dealt with the beating of her mother and sister, death of a close friend, and even a nervous breakdown of her sister. Her own experiences in her life inspired her to write a book that would cause her to be criticized harshly for her radical views.

From the beginning, Mary's life was one large cry for help. Her father,

always in the middle of some economic failure, would beat Mary's mother and

the children during his drunken fits of rage and frustration over losing money and

being a failure. She had witnessed time and again her mother being abused by

her father, and many times she would throw herself in front of her father to keep

her mother from receiving yet another blow (Ferguson 1). Another domestic

violence situation she encountered was that of her sister, Eliza. Eliza had suffered

a nervous breakdown, and Wollstonecraft was convinced that this was caused by

her husband's abuse. Wollstonecraft then proceeded to kidnap her si...

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...iety would be viewed as chauvinistic. How is it that women were so sadly looked down on when this particular woman was so extremely advanced for her time? She may have received criticism on her book, but her writings were persuasive enough to

affect the views of women and eventually men for many years to come.


Works Cited

Abrams, M.H. eds. et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 6th Edition.

vol 2. New York: W.W. Norton, 1993 p. 98-100.

Ferguson, Moira, and Todd, Janet. Mary Wollstonecraft. Boston: Twayne, 1984.

Monthly Review. Ed. Johnson. Nov. 1798..

Rood, Karen. eds. et. al. Concise Dictionary of Bristish Literary Biography. vol 3.

Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1992

Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Women. in Abrams.


Women's History. Ed. Terri Bittner. Apr. 1998. .
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