Mary Wollstonecraft

A Vindication of the Rights of Women

Giving Women A Chance at Education

Wollstonecraft challenged against the idea that women shouldn't be educated, explaining in her A Vindication of the Rights of Women that education can improve women rather than making fools of themselves due to their lack of capability. She even challenged men stating 'Let men become more chaste and modest, and if women do not grow wiser in the same ratio, it will be clear that they have a weaker understanding.' Mary is so firm in her beliefs that the eradication of complete power over women will grow their understanding.


She compares the unfairness between men and women in her Vindication that 'men, in their youth, are prepared for professions, and marriage is not considered as the grand feature in their lives; whilst women, on the contrary, have no other scheme to sharpen their faculties.' She points out these inequalities between the two sexes and brings to light the possibilities that women can have more of.

Dedication All Her Life

Education has been a part of Wollstonecraft throughout her life. According to the Concise Dictionary of British Literary Biography, Mary felt led to open up a school. 'With the help of Fanny Blood, the four women opened a boarding school for private pupils.' Mary knew that education was important. Mary also was opinionated throughout her life, as most intellectuals are. Her Vindication was a response to another writer Rousseau. According to Charlotte Gray in Feminism's First Manifesto, 'She was writing in response to Jean-Jacques Rousseau's tract Emile, in which the French philosopher had suggested that a girl's education should focus on making her a useful helpmeet to rational man.'

Mary's Impact

Her piece The Vindication of the Rights of Women was a stepping stone for women's rights for future years to come. Believe it or not, this particular work from her was not very popular at the time. In fact, it heaped a lot of criticism. However, when the Women's Suffrage Movement in the late 1800's sprung up, her work inspired. Wollstonecraft was circulated around and studied during every Women's Movement that was to come.