The essay “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” by Mary Wollstonecraft is a unique study of early philosophical concepts from a feminist perspective. In this text, the author makes her beliefs known regarding the rights of women to receive an education equal to her male counterparts and supports her position regarding other areas where equality is essential (Greenblatt). However, she lived in a pre-feminist era and did not necessarily recognize that her attitudes and beliefs represented an entire era of new ideas (Greenblatt). The author’s voice and thoughts are clear in her writing: “In the government of the physical world it is observable that the female in point of strength is, in general, inferior to the male. This is the law of Nature; and it does not appear to be suspended or abrogated in favour of woman” (Greenblatt). With this excerpt, Wollstonecraft addresses the inequalities between males and females during her era and that there was not much that could be done about this situation (Greenblatt).
In another excerpt, the author appears almost apologetic for her progressive views regarding women and their roles in society: “My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone” (Greenblatt). This also showcases Wollstonecraft’s perspectives as a feminist and a woman with a unique perspective for her era (Greenblatt). This piece provides support for the realities of her existence as a female in a society that did not accept her as a contributing and active member, a reality that she sought to change (Greenblatt).The author’s views were new and controversial during her time, but today, they serve as a reminder of the first roots of the feminist movement, well before it was even known by that term (Greenblatt).
Greenblatt, Stephan. “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.” From The Norton Anthology of
English Literature, 9th Edition, Volume 2. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.