Mary Wollstonecraft 's A Vindication Of The Rights Of Woman And Leo Tolstoy 's Anna Karenina

Mary Wollstonecraft 's A Vindication Of The Rights Of Woman And Leo Tolstoy 's Anna Karenina

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Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina both illustrate feminist ideals as well as the continual gender gap that plagues our society. Wollstonecraft lays out very specific qualifications for modesty and portrays how imperative a modest society is to achieving gender equality for both sexes. Similarly, the character of Anna in Anna Karenina chooses to become an advocate for feminist ideals in Russia during a time in which her society was ruled by men and women had very little say. Anna’s character and Wollstonecraft were both pioneers in paving the way for women’s rights and creating a society in which women and men would be able to allow each other to grow without oppressing one another.
Wollstonecraft’s definition of modesty has little to do with women remaining stagnant in their societal role and instead, says it is the “scared offspring of sense and sensibility” (Wollstonecraft, 1995, p. 214). She also signifies the difference between one acting in a modest way and one who is truly modest, although most women who study proper demeanor tend to be the most modest (Wollstonecraft, 1995, p. 218). However, in Anna Karenina, this thought process is questioned as Anna’s character develops. Wollstonecraft also makes it very clear during a time when males conquered society, men and women should not be held to different social or moral standards. Her ideas were uncommonly progressive for the time period in which she lived and while Wollstonecraft and Anna Karenina may have gone about their agendas in contrasting ways, they both exhibit the principles of a feminist heroine.
Anna Karenina, the protagonist of the book and film Anna Karenina, embodies many ideals that relate to modesty an...


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...empt to achieve happiness. While in the beginning, her character may be pursuing her love interest solely to receive his affection, her reasoning changes as she becomes more aware of the limitations society placed on her. Anna’s persistent demeanor leads her to ignore the precedents set up by her society and challenge the norms that oppress her. Wollstonecraft agrees that men and women should work to create gender equality; nevertheless, this should be done through modest terms for immodesty “teaches a man to think more highly of himself than he ought to think” (Wollstonecraft, 1995, p. 215). Though Anna’s character and Mary Wollstonecraft proceed in achieving this equality in different ways, they both provide valuable insight into the effects of a male dominated society and allow the reader to understand that there is still work to be done in the feminist movement.

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