Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman Summary

Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman Summary

Maria’s present situation

1: Maria was sitting at a corner of mansion and trying to collect her scattered thoughts. She was confined in a madhouse by her husband and she was sentimental. She spent a lot time thinking of her four-month-old girl who was taken away from her. She watched outside of the window and viewed the garden while pondering her current situation. Jemima the attendant, a former prostitute, came to her room and prevailed on her to eat. Maria ate a little to prove her sanity and sustain her life. She asked Jemima to come to visit her often. Although Jemima was suspicious of her intention, she listened to Maria’s complaints and sympathised with her. Jemima respected her talents and decided to alleviate Maria’s agony as much as she can.

2: Maria endeavoured to soothe her anguish through reading and writing. However, she wept when the contents of the books resembles her loss of infant and reminds her of the loss. Writing is a better choice in this case. Maria thought that if she record her experience, that may alarm her daughter not to fall in the same pitfall as she did. Maria had misanthropy since she was not loved since the moment she was born. Jemima still suspected whether Maria was sane, so she didn’t take actions to help Maria escape. However, she sometimes allow Maria to stray on the narrow avenues between apartments. Maria was scared of her inmates’ eyes glaring on her and the those images haunted her dreams. She had been in the madhouse for six weeks and she was mad at herself not endeavouring to escape but writing her story. From Jemima, Maria received a parcel of books whose previous reader was also a confined gentleman. The in-depth marginal notes on the books caught Maria’s attention. According to Jemima’s narration, the gentleman's hands were confined for his untamed look.

3: Maria read the note from Henry Darnford inserted in a book. Jemima allowed her to write an apply. Maria forgot about the noisy and unpleasant environment she was in by immersing in writing. Darnford and Maria met for the first time. Darnford told his story. Darnford’s parents had the fashionable habits of gambling and they didn’t like each other. Darnford indulged himself in his youth . Later he entered military life. He was wounded in America and travelled in the country. He said that the women in America were like the opposite of women in Europe. He then built his own house in the country and described the desolate landscape there. He soon grew tired of the land and returned to London. One very late night, he was walking back to hotel and he was knocked down in a private street and sent to the house.

4: Maria’s countenance was described in details. Danford showed his affection for Maria but Maria was afraid to return with same amount of passion. Nevertheless, Danford succeeded in kissing her and hugging her in silence while Maria was contemplating at the presence of Jemima. Jemima was touched and dropped her tears.

Jemima’s story

5: Jemima’s started to recount her story. Her mother, a servant, was seduced, married and soon hated and neglected by her father. She died after refusing to eat any food. She was sent to a cheap nurse and received very little care. Her father married another woman, who was pregnant and convinced her father to take her home. Jemima was tormented by her step-mother’s daughter yet she still need to attend her. She was raped by the master of a house when she was apprenticed. She had a child and the mistress expelled her. She lived in a house with other wretches and became a prostitute. Finding the watchman harassment annoying, she took a job of servant in a talented man’s house near Hampstead. For five years, she was able to discuss the subjects the man was researching on. Yet his sudden death and the new rigid heir proclaimed her exile again.

Maria and Darnford commented on her story and argued that hard labour prevent the poor from improvement and happiness. Jemima continued her story. She found a girl dead in the horse tub and she was the cause of her death. She advised the tradesman to expel the girl so that she could be the mistress in the house and be free from labour. The tradesman fled. Her shin was hurt and she entered hospital. Maria mentioned a pauper’s funeral and how the poor were treated badly. Darnford agreed and pointed out that the rich should give more wealth and, more impotently, attention to the poor. Penny-less, Jemima followed a keeper at madhouse and worked for him for four years till now.

Maria’s story

6: Maria convinced Jemima to collect the information of her child. Maria knew that Jemima, who suffered a lot from the loss of mother since childhood, would agree on her proposal. Maria was disappointed. Yet Darnford’s genuine expression of affection in his letter moved Maria. She sent her memoir to Darnford.

7: Maria recalled her history. Her father was a marine captain who grew tired of military’s system of family connection and money. He married and kept absolute authority in his home. His wife loved the eldest son more than her other children. His brother acted as an education instructor to Maria, but soon left to India as accompany to a nobleman. When his brother returned with fortune, he found his friend and his mistress got married. Maria as a child became his consolation. He taught Maria think and act independently, ignoring the censure and compliment from others.

Longing for new friends and affections to liven her monotonous life, she accepted the favour of George, the second son of a newly moved in merchant’s family, who developed a mind of libertinism in London, yet concealed it so that people thinks he is a righteous youth.

The tragedy of Peggy, a widow, was inserted here. She supported herself and two children by working. A misfortune happened, her goods are swept away and the rent agency sold all her goods, leaving she and her kids not a bed to sleep on. Maria gave her a mattress to her and went to Mr Venables’s house with her to let him exempt the rent. Mr Venables agreed. But instead of pitying on Peggy, he did it for young Maria's beauty. Maria was more in love with George when he gave her a guinea after hearing Peggy’s misfortune.

8: Maria’s mother was sick. Even though it was her daughters who take care of her, she still had more affection for her son who barely went to see her. Maria’s father grieved for a while when his wife died, but soon his grief abated. Maria despised his new mistress when she tried to rule the house. Maria’s uncle tried to extricate Maria from the unbearable family life. He thought a marriage was a good idea and promised George five thousand pounds if George marry Maria.

9: Maria got married. She soon discovered the evil side of George. When she asked if he can give a thousand pound to each of her sisters from five thousand pounds, he replied by asking if Maria had lost her senses. Maria described her husband as vulgar, selfish and unfeeling man. He used Maria as an instrument to get money from her wealthy uncle. As time past, Maria felt more disgusted when staying with him. Witnessing her sisters leaving school but unable to earn enough subsistence to live independently, she questioned why women who are as talented as men had to struggle in the society and even be in prostitution to earn a living. After the death of Maria’s young sister, Maria observed an old woman receiving money from her husband. A month, or two, later, the women, turned out be the nurse, carried a child with poor health who could not even sustain her own weight. The child turned out to be the daughter of Mr. Venables and a servant he seduced.

10: Mary visited her hometown because her father is getting ill. She breathed the air of countryside and felt the beauty of nature. Her husband’s sent her affectionate letters and treated her with pretentious tenderness whose behaviours only disgust Maria more. She reflected on the phenomena that women are compelled to submit themselves to their husband. She also found it unfair for women to suffer if they lose their husbands’ support and attention while men received no penalty at all no matter how evil their behaviours are. Maria found herself to be pregnant . She talked to her uncle, whose health is also declining. He apologised for uniting Maria and George. He also stated his opinion that women should keep their independent characters after marriage instead of submitting themselves entirely to their husbands.

11: A guest of George often come to their house and talked to Maria. He told Maria that her husband was a swindler in the business world. One day at dinner, he asked for Maria’s love. When Maria refused him, the gentleman showed her a letter written by her husband about how to win Maria’s heart. Maria was angry, yet she pretended as nothing had happen and asked her husband to come to the dining-parlour. When three of them were all in the parlour, she took out the letter and interrogate with him. She took off her ring and announced that she is going end the marriage and leave the house. Embarrassed, George pushed the gentleman out of the room with a forced smile and then frowned at Maria. He threw the letter in fire and locked Maria in the room.

12: Mr Venables acted like a clown as he attempted to change Maria’s mind. He first entered Maria’s chamber and suggested her to go to bed with him, Maria refused with resolution. The next morning, he pretended as nothing had happened yesterday and asked Maria again if she was tired of the farce. During the breakfast, he tried to convince Maria that romantic sentiments are foolish and mentioned about his very recent opportunity to be rich again. Maria ignored him and escaped the house when Mr. Venables was out. She stayed at a woman’s place for she could not find a nice lodging without referring to acquaintance, who may leak her whereabouts to Mr. Venables. The woman was miserable, her husband took away the money she earned by working all day long. Soon Maria’s absconding was on the advertisement. She summoned the woman’s husband, who respected people of higher class very much, and asked him not to inform Mr. Venables of her staying. He agreed. Maria connected with her uncle’s friend and took another refuge with his help.

13: Her husband found her by watching her uncle’s friend visiting. The landlady leaded him to Maria’s room. Maria locked her room at first, and then she realised she couldn’t avoid meeting so she opened the door. An attorney accompanied him and after conversing downstairs they left. The landlady told her story. She saved a little money to marry a footman and she had the future planed. But her husband used the money to buy expensive clothes for another woman, she had to work to earn back the money. Her husband went to military, she worked for several years to get a house. Six years after, he returned. Yet she was penniless again after paying for his debt so he left him.

Maria’s husband began chasing after her. Wherever she went, he followed her and made her feel anxious. Her uncle died three days after she give birth to her daughter. Her brother was mad at the fact that her uncle left his fortune to her child instead of him.

14: Maria planned on leaving England and she hired a maid who could speak French fluently. Before she left, she signed a bond for the attorney so that he wouldn’t trouble her anymore. Both the bond and the maid turned out be conspiracies. The maid put stupefying potion in her food the morning she left the town. The maid took away her baby when she couldn’t control her motions at all. A man clasped his arms around her and carried her into bed, she was now in the madhouse.

Back to Maria’s present situation

15: Darnford consoled Maria with tears and affection. They met frequently. She identified Darnford as her husband.

16: One morning the master of the madhouse disappeared mysteriously. Jemima helped Maria escape. On their way out, something strange happened. A devil-like being seized Maria’s arm. The author described that with supernatural force, Maria broke from him. He then threw rocks at their back but they already left the place. Darnford was released two days after and the reason that he was also imprisoned was that his relatives want to occupy a fortune of which Darnford was an legitimate heir. Maria had to undertook the price of openly living with Darnford- she was isolated from the noble ladies she used to be acquainted. Mr. Venables sued Darnford for seduction and adultery. Maria was no affected by the aloofness and the accusation, instead she felt joyful for abled to live the way she wanted.

17: Maria defended for Darnford in the court. She gave a long speech, arguing that Mr. Venables betrayed the marriage several times and she forgave him all the time. Mr. Venebles also demanded her to borrow money from her wealthy relative. As she refused, Mr. Venables urged his friend to seduce her. Therefore she left him. She accused Mr. Venables hunting her from place to place and imprisoning her in a madhouse. However, the judge determined to not validate her words by claiming that woman shouldn’t be allowed to plead for their feeling as excuse of their immoral behaviours. The law should be strictly implemented or else the exception would harm the society.


Since the author left the book unfinished, there were only segments of the end of novel. It seemed that Maria was pregnant again, somehow a miscarriage took away the unborn child. She attempted to commit a suicide. Jemima took Maria’s elder child, who was originally thought dead, in front of her. Maria decided to live for her child.

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