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Paperback A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Book

ISBN: 1291444483

ISBN13: 9781291444483

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

(Book #11 in the Penguin Great Ideas Series Series)

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

Edmund Burke launched his attack on the cause of Liberty in 1790 by publishing "Reflections on the Revolution in France". Mary Wollstonecraft immediately responded with "A Vindication of the Rights of Men", thus precipitating a Pamphlet War in which Tom Paine became the most famous protagonist with his "Rights of Man." Encouraged by the enthusiastic welcome expressed for her own publication by all those active in the movements for Parliamentary and...

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

The actual book is excellent (from the ten pages I've read so far) but I was disappointed with the quality. I selected 'like new' for my order, but the spine is cracked, most pages are underlined or written in, and it was printed near 30 years ago so all the pages are yellow. Shame.

A vindication of the rights of woman

A historic tract that lives up to its reputation. It's hard to think that one would read any regency romances without also reading this book.

From a man's point of view

I picked this book up in Boston waiting for my wife to order coffee and was instantly enamoured with the author's prose. At times I wondered if I was reading an essay or poetry. Regardless, Mary Wollstonecraft summarizes the plight of women very well and the reader ( whether male or female ) gets a palpable sense of it's injustice. She concludes that since the literate male giants like " Rousseau" bolstered the prevailing thought that men were made to reason and women to feel it is hardly suprising that women were oppressed. From birth women, in the manor of pets, are trained in refining their "sensibilities" pursuing frivolity in "proper manners and etiquette" and stylish dress to the exclusion of cultural and intellectual development. Her only purpose to marry and become slave to the whim of her man's pleasure . Her drudgery and mindless existence is punctuated only by her childish outbursts. In such a state she is hardly capable of independent living let alone thought and utterly unfit as a mother. This state of affairs not only degrades women but men of reason and society at large since domestic affairs ultimately spill upon the fabric of society. The baleful consequences of such forced behaviours are a romantic temperment reinforced by reading novels of the day instead of science or history the latter deemed "boring" since the women lack the capacity to understand it. Such women being deprived of intellectual stimulation focus on vanity which further corrupts their soul making them envious, bitter and mean. Any woman who dares to challenge this state of affairs is ostracized almost to the same extent as a woman who has lost her "reputation". Mary Wollstonecraft writings are rife with social and political commentary which is refreshing. She is particularly critical of the upper class and their perpetuation of oppression.

The times they aren't a-changin'

It is interesting to teach this book and track how students respond to this book, and how differently male and female students respond to the issues Wollstonecraft raises and discusses. We contextualize the book, and then extract it from its time and place and try to place the issues in our own time and place. A lot of great questions can be raised as we contemplate how far we have and have not come, and what can or should be done about that. . .and who shall do it. It is also an arresting exercise to ask students to apply different literary theories as they discuss this text. The idea is to encourage them to step out of their own shoes and into someone else's as they consider these issues. And it gives great opportunity to ask students to try to separate themselves from their own assumptions and stereotypes about gender and gender behavior, and reassess the issues in Wollstonecraft's time and place, and in light of today's assumptions and stereotypes, which can be harder to quantify than some presume.

Have we really progressed?

As I read this book, I find myself comparing the authors examples of the treatment of women by their fathers/husbands with the way women are today treated by the media.Mary discusses how women are to be kept ignorant of all knowledge and only to be valued for their physical charms (almost every ad on TV/in print). The examples of her contemporaries that she quotes are frighteningly familiar.Why is this so? Who determines that the education of females is not relevant to society. Sure they are allowed to go to school now, but they are still treated with amazing patronization and condescenscion? The amount of my (intelligent) female friends that insist they are dumb/ignorant/stupid/an idiot is disturbing. Maybe now females are allowed to learn, they should also be allowed self esteem. I think I got sidetracked. This book is a complex and well written argument for the emancipation and education of women. It is as true today as much as it was 200 years ago. It is, however a slow read as the language is couched in the vocabulary of the late eighteenth century and many of the terms are unfamiliar.

A must read!

For anyone into philosophy, this is a definate read. A product of the Age of Reason, Mary Wollstonecraft applies reason to why women should be educated equally with men so both may benefit from virtue. Very intriguing even for a man. Read it.

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