A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Topics: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Mary Wollstonecraft, Gender Pages: 3 (1102 words) Published: April 3, 2008
The eighteenth century brought about a great deal of change and a new-found interest in science and reason. Because of this, many great inventions, ideas and innovative theorists arose from this time period. Among them was a forward-thinking essayist by the name of Mary Wollstonecraft. In her book, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Wollstonecraft preaches her belief that the oppression of women is largely due to lack of female education. Although the term “feminism” wasn’t coined until decades later, Wollstonecraft paved the way for future women’s rights movements by advocating equality in education for women. She believed men and women should be equal in the very basic aspects of life, such as in loyalty in marriage. Wollstonecraft openly called out fellow philosopher and novelist of the time, Jean-Jacques Rousseau on his negative views of women and their role in society. Although against common beliefs of the time, Wollstonecraft boldly stated her opinions on a woman’s ability to think rationally and formulate ideas as well as any man. First of all, it is not difficult to decipher Wollstonecraft’s feelings about Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Although Rousseau was dead at the time A Vindication of the Rights of Woman was written, Wollstonecraft does not hesitate to argue and dispute his points. Actually, both Rousseau and Wollstonecraft had many ideas in common, with an exception to one major theme, that is. Wollstonecraft disagrees with Rousseau’s thoughts on the proper place for women in society. Wollstonecraft argues “for why should the gracious fountain of life give us passions, and the power of reflecting, only to imbitter our days and inspire us with mistaken notions of dignity?”(14). By this, she means that because women are given the ability to think and formulate intelligent thoughts, those thoughts and ideas should be respected. Wollstonecraft doesn’t only attack Rousseau, however. She goes as far to say “that all the writers who have written on the...
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