A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Character List

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

A widely respected and read 18th-century Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer. His political philosophy was influential for the French Revolution and the Enlightenment. His novel Émile: or, On Education was a treatise on the education of the whole person for citizenship. Wollstonecraft painstakingly critiques many of Rousseau's ideas regarding women and their "nature" in Vindication.

Edmund Burke

An Irish politician, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher. He served in the House of Commons as a member of the Whig Party for many years, supported the American Revolution, and opposed the French Revolution. His conservative (classical liberal) Reflections on the Revolution in France, concerned about the tyranny of new democracies that try to remake longstanding social traditions, garnered a response from Thomas Paine (The Rights of Man) and Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

John Milton

An English poet and civil servant for the Commonwealth of England, best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost. He was a man of letters and worked under Oliver Cromwell. He is touted as a man of genius by Wollstonecraft, although she gives some criticism of his apparent views on women.

Dr. Gregory

A Scottish physician, medical writer, and moralist whose book A Father's Legacy to His Daughters (1774) was widely read in the 18th century. Wollstonecraft attacked his promulgations of women's cultivation of beauty and eschewing of learning.

Dr. Priestley

An 18th-century English theologian, clergyman, natural philosopher, chemist, educator, and political theorist. He published over 150 works and is usually credited with the discovery of oxygen by isolating it in its gaseous state.

Louis XVI

The King of France from 1643 to his death in 1715. His long reign was characterized by extravagance and absolute rule.

Adam Smith

An 18th-century Scottish social philosopher and economist. His main works included The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, the latter being one of the most influential works on economics ever published and a classic explanation of capitalism.

Francis Bacon

A 17th-century English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, and author. He was active in politics and was on the forefront of science, pioneering the scientific method. He is sometimes referred to as the father of empiricism.

Samuel Richardson

An extremely popular 18th-century writer. He is best known for his epistolary novels: Pamela: Or, Virtue Rewarded (1740), Clarissa: Or the History of a Young Lady (1748), and The History of Sir Charles Grandison (1753).

Dr. James Fordyce

An 18th-century Scottish Presbyterian minister and poet best known for his collection of sermons Sermons for Young Women (1766), or Fordyce's Sermons.

James Hervey

An 18th-century English clergyman and writer.

Madame de Stael

A Swiss, French-speaking author who lived in Paris and other European cities at the turn of the 19th century. She was influential on literary tastes at the time.

Madame Genlis

A French harpist, writer, and educator. In Britain she was best known for her children's books. She wrote over 80 works, including novels and educational tracts.