Compare and Contrasting the Views of Wollstonecraft and Austen

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Chiara Travisano
Ms. Balaschak
English 11
Block 6
Wollstonecraft and Austen

The struggle for women to gain equality has been an ongoing issue for centuries. Although in the 18th century, the status of women in society was not as a widespread issue. However, some important women writers who did express their opinion on this topic were Mary Wollstonecraft and Jane Austen. These writers agreed on what the status of woman should be in society, although they both showed it in different ways. In Wollstonecraft’s, “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” she bluntly explains how women cut themselves short in almost every aspect of life just because of common convention. While Austen in her novel, Pride and Prejudice, portrays her view that women should and have the ability to have a voice, through the way she presents her characters. The characters in Austen’s novel embody the points of Wollstonecraft’s argument. Wollstonecraft is infuriated by the lack of depth her sex represents. She explains that women are seen as nothing more than a pretty face, and all they aspire for in life is marriage. They have no voice or thought for themselves, rather they abide by the “books of instruction, written by men of genius” (Wollstonecraft 1). Meaning that, women believe they are inferior than men just because men told them they are so. The character Austen creates that personifies these features the best is Mrs. Bennet. Throughout the novel she is described as the ditzy, nagging, overemotional, and annoying mother of the Bennet girls. She spends all of her days on the hunt for men that her daughters can marry off to. For example, when Jane gets sick at the Bingley estate, Mrs. Bennet pushes for her to stay there as long as possible, even when she no longer needs to be, in hope that Bingley will fall in love with Jane. Every time Mrs. Bennet opens her mouth she seems to embarrass herself as well as her family. She constantly changes her view of the men in...
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