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A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  7,341 ratings  ·  213 reviews
In an era of revolutions demanding greater liberties for mankind, Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) was an ardent feminist who spoke eloquently for countless women of her time.
Having witnessed firsthand the devastating results of male improvidence, she assumed an independent role early in life, educating herself and eventually earning a living as a governess, teacher and wri
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Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 3rd 1996 by Dover Publications (first published 1790)
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Community Reviews

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Caris
This was simultaneously brilliant and saddening. I didn’t expect these words to resonate quite as much as they did. I didn’t expect to be able to immediately apply them to my life. I was looking for a historical perspective, some sign that we are headed in the right direction.

We are. At least, I think so. Unfortunately, those steps we have taken don’t seem as dramatic anymore. I mean, women can vote. They can run for office. They have been liberated from traditional sexual confines. They can tak
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Yann
Ce livre est un pamphlet politique britannique paru en 1792, en réaction aux débats de l'Assemblée Constituante en France quant à l'établissement de l'instruction publique, plus particulièrement un rapport de Talleyrand(view spoiler) de l'année précédente invitant à écarter les femmes à l'accès aux fonctions publiques. Par là on néglige de les instruire, puisque cela serait parfaitement inutile et dispendieux. Mary Wollstonecraft(view spoiler) s'est emparé de ce ...more
Irene Lê
Sep 29, 2014 Irene Lê marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
OH MY GOD , this uncoventional, feminist woman is mother of Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, who was one of my favorite author only after Rowling, Wilde, Plath...etc.?

SHELLEY, you never tell me how cool your mother was!!! . I thought we were best friends.
Helynne
What a perceptive and courageous watershed work of feminism--especially for 1792! Mary Wollstonecraft, journalist, novelist, and wife of political philosopher William Godwin, eventually had three children, and died giving birth to the last, Mary Godwin Shelley, who would grow up to marry a famous, radical poet, and herself write Frankenstein and several other novels a generation later. Wollstonecraft, writing in the middle of the French Revolution, albeit in relative safety across the English C ...more
Often Partisan
Mary Wollstonecraft: A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

A brief introduction to a feminist classic.

What is the Vindication?

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (hence the Vindication) is the classic feminist text. It was written in 1792, and it has its roots in the Enlightenment. Broadly, its aim is to apply the ideas of rights and equality to women and not just to men. This article will briefly explore the origins of the work of Wollstonecraft by looking at John Locke and Jean Jacques Roussea
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Emily
As convenient as it can sometimes be, a disadvantage of reading from anthologies is that one can graduate from college with the vague notion that one has read a work in its entirety, only to discover later that in fact one has read only a page and a half of it in a long-forgotten Eighteenth-Century British Literature class. Which, as you may have guessed, is exactly what happened to me with Mary Wollstonecraft's seminal 1792 treatise A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. I'm happy to have rectif ...more
Yasmin
It has been 221 years since A Vindication of the Rights of Woman was published. In that time women have come along way in a fast time, it could be said as much...Women's suffrage movement in the UK began in 1872; the first woman to vote in Britian was 1867;in Ireland the Dublin Women's Suffrage Association was established in 1874; Women in Britian were given the vote in 1918 for women over the age of 30 and had property (which means wives of householders or wives who lived in a rent of over 5 po ...more
Juanita
Jun 08, 2011 Juanita rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: College students, feminists
Recommended to Juanita by: School
Shelves: older-books
Mary Wollstonecraft was a 16th century mother, teacher, writer, philosopher, feminist, and journalist. She wrote several books and stood out as a rebel in her day. I HAD to read this book because of a college project. But after just the first page I understood why Mary stood out.

She was a brilliant and fearless author. For my class I had to research the ways that women were treated in the 16th century as it related to the bravery of Wollstonecraft. Women HAD to be married in order to entertain
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Trisha
At its core Vindication is a response to 18th century theorists (mostly men) who made some very disturbing comments regarding the education, use, and ideal of women. Wollstonecraft writes back to these theorists, both directly addressing their words and positing her own theories. The work is intellectually challenging, thought-provoking, and revolutionary (but best served in small bites).

Vindication, at least in the translation I have, is not an easy read. The diction is downright imposing, gran
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Dominic
The introductory letter and first couple chapters of A Vindication are practically perfect. Wollstonecraft formulates an argument that has enough fire and logic to take on the misogyny of the time. There is certainly reason that Wollstonecraft is considered one of the great mothers of feminism. And whether this is evidence of Wollstonecraft's brillance or some of the failures of the women's movement, much of what she says is still incredibly relevant. Seriously, I applaud this woman, and I admir ...more
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
To my knowledge this is the first substantial articulation of the principles of gender equality. A must read for its historical value alone. However it's well-argued and entertaining in its wit and observation as well.
Julie Suzanne
I read this during my last quarter as an undergraduate English major. The class was on revolutionary women writers and it was AWESOME. I was more interested and involved in that class than most of my other classes--I kept up a double-entry journal for all of the reading so that I was constantly analyzing and writing down my thoughts. I had a great relationship with the professor and other girls in my class. It was during this class that the big protest in Seattle was going on, and we were all mo ...more
Rebecca
Thank you, Wollstonecraft for your courage and voice. Her speech turned essay left me considering how some of the issues she calls humanity to task on are still prescient today. Also, how does one honor her forward thinking? I left the text asking myself, "In what ways do my actions pull at the roots of historic misogyny?"

I believe to truly understand feminism and the early feminist movement this groundbreaking speech/essay is a must read. It gives insight into the structures that continue to tr
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Lovey d'Orlaque
I enjoyed this read. Her writing style reminds me of Shakespeare with all its poetic potency. She speaks of the miseducation of women, but warns against the harmful societal consequence of allowing the miseducation of man or woman. While dated in that women are far more educated now that at the time of writing, there are few barefoot and pregnant...stay at home mothers. Only 14% of women with children under 18 stay at home according to a recent Gallup poll (April 2012). The majority of these pol ...more
Robert Sheppard
FROM THE SALONS TO THE BARRICADES: THE RISE OF WOMEN OF LETTERS IN WORLD LITERATURE IN THE 17TH AND 18TH CENTURIES--MADAME DE SCUDERY, DE LA FAYETTE, DE SEVIGNE, DE STAEL, ANNE FINCH, COUNTESS OF WINCHELSEA, APHRA BEHN & MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT----FROM THE WORLD LITERATURE FORUM RECOMMENDED CLASSICS AND MASTERPIECES SERIES VIA GOODREADS—-ROBERT SHEPPARD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF


Individual freedom, male or female, has in reality always been the exception rather than the rule, and in the early days of the
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Sam
This is a clear and articulate essay on the benefits of providing women with the same education and rights as men at a time when such thoughts were unheard of and bordering on blasphemous. Wollstonecraft gives logical and rational arguments as for treating men and women equally, not just treating women as equals to men but also treating men as equals to women, which at the time of writing had huge implications for marriage practices and modesty in both personal and public lives. This is well tho ...more
Evelyn
I've read a few feminist texts in the past, but none quite compare to this, which is often deemed as the classic feminist text. Unlike others which can be on the painfully dry and weary side of things, Wollstonecraft's attitude just jumps out at you with every page that you turn of this book. Reading it is like listening to her perform a speech in front of millions, it's so strong and passionate. It really is incredible when you remember that this was published in 1792, I don't think I've read a ...more
Tara Lynn
It's hard to believe that this is the woman who came up with something as macabre as Frankenstein. Having heard so much about this tract, I figured I'd give it a read. It's mentioned as a side note in several of the historical novels that I've read, and I was more than a little surprised by the vehement tome of the piece. It's amazing to see how far feminist ideals have come in such a short span of time, especially when you relate the drop of water that 200 years is in a bucket of millenia. I fo ...more
Juliet Waldron
Here it is, the Mother document of feminism! Get through the 18th Century prose and circumlocutions as she states and restates her arguments, going carefully so that slower minds can follow, and you will see the same challenges and discussions about "the sex" that women endure today, in every corner of the world. She was a brave woman and far, far ahead of her time. She was paid out, predictably, by being called "a hyena" and with laughter when she died in childbed. Nothing much has really chang ...more
Willa
This book is absolutely brilliant, and there is a reason why it was more or less ignored for 200 years. It is as current today as it was in 1792, which is astounding given the fact that so much has changed in the lives of women... but Mary Wollstonecraft's greatest contribution is to expose the deeply rooted conditioning of weakness, triviality, and lack of independent thought that is the sad by-product of thousands of years of patriarchy - which in spite of the great advances made in the last 2 ...more
LauraT
Cotanta madre, cotanta figlia? Ma come le venivano in mente tali argomentazione nel '700?
Derek Walsh
The original feminist manifesto, this book argues primarily for giving women the same access to education as men, and argues that the result would necessarily be virtual equality between the sexes and an improvement of society. While some of Wollstonecraft's arguments rest on shaky premises (for example, she gives unquestioning weight to the supposed opinions of the Christian god, and argues against certain inherent differences between the sexes which science has since shown to be real), the goa ...more
Rainey
I read Wollstonecraft's "vindication" at the perfect point in my life- the year I moved away from home (my first year of college). Though it had not occurred to me before that point, I was in the process of deciding on my post-college track (in defining a major) with a set of prescribed jobs at hand- teacher, nurse, office manager, etc. Wollstonecraft's discourse on the rights of women- both in the workplace and in the home- opened my eyes to how programmed I had become through the fault of no o ...more
C.
Dec 11, 2010 C. marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
My edition of A Room of One's Own is part of a series by Penguin or someone called 'Great Ideas'. It is a series of little paperpack editions with nice covers. Looking through the list, though, I was rather appalled to find that the only two works by women were A Room of One's Own and A Vindication of the Rights of Women. I'm kind of interested - have women written (until recently, perhaps) nothing of importance except about feminism?
Suzammah
A good three quarters of this is a slap down of Rousseau, no doubt necessary but also becoming tedious; from my point of view I didn't get much out of it until the final quarter when the discussion widened beyond the idea that women could be something other than frail and dainty objects. Rather depressingly, though, somethings were still worth saying a few hundred years on:
'I lament that women are systematically degraded by receiving the trivial attentions, which men think it manly to pay to the
...more
RJ Robledo
A brilliant exposition on gender relations --certainly well deserving of the reverence it's gained over the centuries. Mary Wollstonecraft has a very powerful way with words, strongly delivering her points in a no-nonsense, logical fashion. Never does she come across as some partisan radical demanding special treatment; she asks only that all members of humanity be treated equal.

Why is this not required reading in school?
FlibBityFLooB
I wish that my intellectual-side would resurface so I could appreciate this femanism manifesto for its true worth... You know the twenty-something bisexual liberal arts hey-hey-ho-ho-the patriarchy's got to go side... Unfortunately, the lazy married forget the Bryn Mawr degree side of me won out. I found this text to be somewhat interesting, but very long-winded and a bit tedious. Oh well. At least I tried. :)
Evan Leach
This was the kind of book that I respected more than loved. It's easy to forget that in the United States, former slaves were given the right to vote before women. So this (British) book, written in 1792, was far ahead of its time. An important work worth reading, but not exactly one you need to race out and buy ASAP. 3 stars.
Irene
It was written very well and it does make one realise just how the role of women in society has changed since the 18th century. Wollstonecraft gives incredibly deep insight into the inequality in the genders and I think she'll be glad to see that some level of freedom and egalitarianism has been achieved today.

Sara  Muhammad
Sep 27, 2014 Sara Muhammad is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-s-rights
In both the Preface and the Introduction, Wollstonecraft emphasizes what she sees as the root cause of the failure of men to treat women as equals. Men discourage women from achieving the same education that men routinely are given, and as long as women are denied this education, then they can never hope to achieve social and economic parity with men. In her opening remarks to Talleyrand, she is gently optimistic that her powers of persuasion will be sufficient such that he "will not throw my w ...more
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Mary Wollstonecraft was an eighteenth century British writer, philosopher, and feminist. Among the general public and specifically among feminists, Wollstonecraft's life has received much more attention than her writing because of her unconventional, and often tumultuous, personal relationships. After two ill-fated affairs, with Henry Fuseli and Gilbert Imlay, Wollstonecraft married the philosophe ...more
More about Mary Wollstonecraft...
A Vindication of the Rights of Men & A Vindication of the Rights of Woman & An Historical and Moral View of the French Revolution (3 in 1) Mary & The Wrongs of Woman (2 in 1) Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark & Memoirs of the Author (2 in 1)

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“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.” 586 likes
“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.” 519 likes
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