MaryWollstonecraft was a writer, women`s rights advocate and aphilosopher of the eighteenth-century who utilized her brief careerto impact the society of her time (Steiner, 2014). Wollstonecraft wasmostly concerned with advocating for the rights of women.Wollstonecraft accepted and fervently championed the rights of womenand the belief that women deserved equality other than suppressionand dominance. She also believed children women and men deserved abetter life and thus published the article, children books, andnovels to convey her message (Gale, 2016). This study seeks to reviewWollstonecraft revolutionary contribution to women rights, childrenwelfare, and education, her relationship with men, views, andcontributions during the French revolution.
Sheargued that women were not in any way inferior to men but were takenas inferior because they are not given the opportunity to accesseducation (Wollstonecraft, 2012). Correspondingly, she asserted thatwomen and men ought to be treated as equal and as rational beingseach with equal opportunity to reason and take their rightfulposition in the social order. In 1792, Wollstonecraft wrote theVindication advocating and proclaiming that women were not to betreated as inferior to men, a doctrine that made her both infamousand famous during her life (Steiner, 2014). She ridiculed and deridedprevailing ideas that women were charming adornments and helplessbeings who were to be limited to household activities. Besides,
Wollstonecraftpostulated that women had been downgraded, frustrated and confined bymale tyrants into household duties thereby being denied theopportunity to contribute to the welfare of the community that theylived. Despite having an enormous capacity to learn and participatein decision making, they had been suppressed throughout centuries(Gale, 2016). Mary demanded through her writings that the educationsystem should desist from training women to be incapable andfrivolous. Accordingly, women should venture in leadership, accessquality education and guaranteed equal opportunities. She echoedearlier feminist that education should be reviewed to make it moreinclusive and insisted that radical reforms and political changesshould be included in the education system (Steiner, 2014). Thereason is that such changes will not only allow but enhance dialogueon the issues surrounding women rights.
Correspondingly,Wollstonecraft engaged in pedagogical writings in her earlyproductions (Gale, 2016). She authored and translated variouschildren works in which she advocated for educating young children onthe values and emerging issues especially those regardingconventional and middle-class or bourgeois tenets. She believed thatobtaining knowledge in these values and emerging issues will enablechildren and especially female children to be frugal, honest,self-disciplined and socially contented (Steiner, 2014).Consistently, her books on education emphasized on the significanceof teaching reasoning to children and thus illuminatingWollstonecraft`s intellectual commitment and impact in educationalphilosophy during eighteenth century. However, her emphasis on womenand education was a controversial topic in the eighteenth century andthus give her critics the ground to attack her views during and afterher life (Gale, 2016).
Wollstonecraftwrote fictional works such as “A fiction” and “Maria” both ofthem criticizing patriarchal societies where men controlled all theaspects of marriage exerting damaging impacts on women (Steiner,2014). In her 1788 novel “A fiction,” an eponymous femaleprotagonist is involuntary engaged in a loveless affair for economicmotives. When her marriage fails to consummate, she ends upsatisfying her sexual desire by engaging in illegitimate love affairswith two infatuated men. In her 1798 masterpiece “Maria” a youngwoman had been confined in an unreasonable asylum for many years byher tyrant husband and had to engage in affairs outside marriage tosatisfy her sexual desires (Wollstonecraft, 2012).
Consequently,in both novels, Wollstonecraft did not depict any marriage as asuccessful institution. In her two novels, she displayed opencriticism to the discourse of responsiveness, vulnerability,susceptibility, aesthetic and moral philosophical aspects whichbecame famous philosophical discourses of the eighteenth century(Wollstonecraft, 2012). She also criticized sentimentalism becauseshe believed that such aspects of philosophy were detrimental andinjurious to women since it encouraged and inspired them to beexcessively dependent on emotions. She also asserted that, althoughwomen may be in different classes (upper and lower class), theyshould be united by the fact that they are fighting for the commoncause of empowering themselves.
Anotheraspect of Wollstonecraft’s life is her engagement with GilbertImlay and her views and contributions in French Revolution (Gordon,2016). She joined other British expatriates in Paris in 1992 with theaim of assessing the achievements of the French revolution. She metan American adventurer and timber merchant named Gilbert Imlay. Theywere engaged in a relationship that culminated into her becomingpregnant. Although she had overruled the sexual element inrelationships in her indications, Imlay stimulated her desires insex. She gave birth to a daughter and named her Fanny after one ofher best friend in the past (Gordon, 2016). They later divorced withImlay accusing Wollstonecraft of being obsessed in maternalcharacteristics and being excessively domestic-minded. She was leftwithout help with a newborn child in a foreign country that wasundergoing a revolution.
Amonth before her arrival in France, King Louis the Sixteenth had beenguillotined as a result of the long time French Revolution (Gale,2016). While nursing her daughter, she regularly wrote inspiringarticles that revolved about criticism of conventional French societybecause she was determined to vocalize her views especially on thetopic of women rights. She extensively wrote the history of therevolution where she detailed the circumstances that led to arevolution, and her work was published in London in 1794 (Steiner,2014). The political condition in France deteriorated. Britaindetermined to check the situation declared that it was at war withFrance. She later left France and went back to Britain and continuedto maintain herself as “Mrs. Imlay” so that she could conferlegitimacy to her daughter fancy (Gordon, 2016).
Wollstonecraftwas one of the greatest feminists of the eighteenth century and avibrant champion of women rights. She wanted to build connections andempower women that according to her had been downgraded by thesociety of her time. Wollstonecraft published pedagogical writings,novels, and other revolutionary writings all aimed at positivelychanging the society of her time. Although her relationshipsencountered challenges, she remained committed to her course, and shebelieves that women deserved to be happy and should not be confinedto the tyranny of males. Moreover, her philosophical contributionswere revolutionary and continued to influence the society up to date.
Gale,C. (2016). LiteraryThemes For Students:Race and prejudice. Detroit: Gale, Cengage Learning.
Gordon,C. (2016). Romanticoutlaws: The extraordinary lives of &Mary Shelley.
Steiner,E. K. (2014). Calledto civil existence: `s A Vindication of The Rightsof Woman.Amsterdam: Rodopi.
Wollstonecraft,M. (2012). Mariaor The Wrongs of Woman.Newburyport: Dover Publications.
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