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A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (Dover Thrift Editions) 2nd Revised ed. Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 000-0486290360
ISBN-10: 0486290360
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"We hear [Mary Wollstonecraft's] voice and trace her influence even now among the living." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

In this passionate reaction to Rousseau's pedagogical work Emile (1762) Wollstonecraft powerfully defends woman's ability to reason, given appropriate education. Her radical prescription was for girls to be educated alongside boys and to the same standard. Originally published in 1792, this is a foundational work of feminist political thought. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; 2nd Revised ed. edition (July 3, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486290360
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486290362
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
This book has Wollstonecraft's A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN and a through Background, Debate and Criticism section. This book gives one everything needed to understand Wollstonecraft's personality strenghths and weaknesses according to authors from her time; a complete debate on the subject of women's rights from multiple authors (from different time periods); and an intense review by serveral other authors (within the last 25 years) on Wollstonecraft's success/failure. Every article in the book has been published independently of this book. This work also contains several journal articles.
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Format: Paperback
If you need to read this for a college or high school class, or as part of a women's studies project that you are doing for some other purpose, then I'd like to assure you that it won't be all that painful. You may even enjoy it and wish that you'd found this book sooner, all on your own. I was only assigned to read parts of it, but I finished the book by choice.
It's interesting and well writen. Some of the language and nearly all of the issues that are brought up are inflamatory. In class discussions I compared the book to "Fight Club," and was nearly laughed out of the room, but I am at least partly serious. It does have the edge of a social visionary who wanted to shake things up and blow old fashioned society out of the water. No soap bombs, though, but that's only a technicality.
If you have any choice in the matter I would suggest that you choose this book over stuffier works by less forward thinkers. I swear that reading it won't hurt that badly.
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Format: Paperback
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 work aside." Her other comments are couched in similar conciliatory terms: "I call upon you, therefore, now to weigh what I have advanced respecting the rights of women."

It is not only the lack of educational opportunity for women that rouses Wollstonecraft's ire. She connects this lack with a general lack of respect to a morality that has become "an empty name." Men cannot acknowledge morality in women unless they can first acquire it in their own persons. The only way, she notes, for men to do both is for them to permit women to have sufficient access to education that will lead women to acquire virtue. Wollstonecraft suggests that virtue in women cannot occur until men respect them enough for women to feel virtuous. As long as men see women as trophy wives, alluring mistresses, and idolized objects of unneeded Renaissance gallantry, then the oppression of women will continue under a paternalistic hand. Wollstonecraft's annoyance clearly is evident when she considers that men have appointed themselves the gender guardian of what is best for women: "Who made man the exclusive judge if women partake with him the gift of reason?" Throughout history, she continues, tyrants of all stripes have been "eager to crush reason; yet always assert that they usurp its throne only to be useful.
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