A Vindication of the Rights of Women
I. Chapter 1
A. Wollstonecraft argues that reason, virtue, and experiences are what determine people’s happiness, but unfortunately, many civilizations have institutionalized tyranny that prevents mankind from thriving. 1. “[A] standing army is incompatible with freedom” because that which makes an army successful is that which suppresses freedom (Wollstonecraft 7). 2. She uses Rousseau’s philosophy to illustrate the foolishness of barbarism in mankind by arguing with the specific points of his arguments (Wollstonecraft 5). II. Chapter 2
B. Wollstonecraft discusses a woman's role as a wife and espouses the idea that if women are continually oppressed by society and denied education and its concomitant development of reason, they cannot be good wives. 3. “Men, indeed, appear to me to act in a very unphilosophical manner when they try to secure the good conduct of women by attempting to keep them always in a state of childhood” (Wollstonecraft 29). 4. If women are by nature inferior to men, their morals cannot possibly be held to the same standards (Wollstonecraft 36). III. Chapter 3
C. People of genius, Wollstonecraft writes, tend to ignore and disregard their health as they pursue their calling; people assume such people are weak and naturally have a delicate constitution, but strength of mind is usually accompanied by strength of body because there is a "natural soundness of constitution." 5. Wollstonecraft admits that men are superior only in bodily strength and that there is no reason that women cannot be mentally as strong as men (Wollstonecraft 52). 6. “Women, deluded by these stentiments, sometime boast of their weakness, cunningly obtaining power by playing on the weakness of men”; thus, the men have less power than the woman does (Wollstonecraft 54). IV. Chapter 4
D. Women are rendered weak by men and by...