Mary Wollstonecraft(Godwin)

27 April 1759 - 10 Sept 1797


 Source for both photo and information.

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Mary Wollstonecraft is best known for “A Vindication of the Rights of Man” & A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.”  “Published in 1792, “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” was the first great feminist treatise.  Wollstonecraft preached that intellect will always govern and sought ‘to persuade women to endeavor to acquire strength, both of mind and body, and to convince them that the soft phrases, susceptibility of heart, delicacy of sentiment, and refinement of taste, are almost synonymous [sic] with epithets of weakness’” (Wollstonecraft, Bartleby.com).  Married to William Godwin she gave birth to Mary (Shelley), and tragically died shortly thereafter.  Mary Shelley

Mary Wollstonecraft wrote “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” to refute Rousseau, a renowned Enlightenment thinker.  Rousseau in his novel Emil theorized that there were separate, immutable spheres for men and women.  Women were created to serve, and please men, therfoer “every aspect of their education” should be spent honing skill that make them pleasing to men, “alluring and sexually faithful” (Anonymous, University of Texas at Austin).  Wollstonecraft argued that women exist for themselves.  She believed that women and men would benefit from the same education, activities, and knowledge (Anonymous). Further, she argued that both sexes are moral beings with souls and “the only rational aim” for moral beings of both sexes is “perfection of mind and spirit” (Anonymous).    For more information on Mary Wollstonecraft see links below. 

 

Works Cited

Anonymous.  University of Texas at Austin, “Mary Wollstonecraft.”  21 February 2008. http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~ulrich/RHE309/vicfembios/marywollstonecraft.htm

Wollstonecraft, Mary.  Barleby.com  A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” 21 February 2008.  http://www.bartleby.com/144/