A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Men as Mary Wollstonecraft's Ideal People

The late eighteenth century was a busy time for writers and thinkers. Affected by the French Revolution, such people routinely published their opinions for public review and comment. The entire literary community was abuzz, issuing papers and replies to papers seemingly overnight. Edmund Burke, author of "Reflections on the Revolution in France" (1790), criticized English sympathizers of the Revolution. To which Mary Wollstonecraft published a response, "A Vindication on the Rights of Men," challenging Burke's position and accusing him of forgetting to consider the lower class. Her essay elicited a flood of replies, most notably Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man," which was published in 1791-92. Within an astonishing six weeks, Wollstonecraft answers with "A Vindication on the Rights of Women," an essay defending women due to their underprivileged nature.

In this essay, Mary Wollstonecraft shares her view of men and women's roles and how they are shaped by nature, society, and education. She frequently says that if given the educational opportunity, women could find themselves on equal footing as men. She also says the goal of said education is complete independence. Therefore,...

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