Wednesday Warriors – Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft is our Wednesday Warrior for the sake of her work A Vindication of the Rights of Women, which I highly suggest everyone read. It is an early review of the socialization of women and how their perceived “inferiority” is largely a product of society, in particular, a lack of education. That is, women fitting the paradigm of the weaker sex only occurs due to social conditions. However, Mary’s unconventional life made critics lessen her credibility during her lifetime.

In London, Wollstonecraft persued artist Henry Fuseli, already married, and proposed a platonic living arrangement that his wife rejected. Following this rejection, Wollstonecraft left to travel France. There she fell in love with Gilbert Imlay, becoming pregnant and giving birth to a girl she named Fanny.  When Britain declared war on France, he registered Wollstonecraft as his wife though they were not married.

Imlay left Wollstonecraft, and she attempted suicide. He saved her life, and in an attempt to win him over again, she went on business to Scandinavia for him. When it became apparent that their relationship was over, she attempted suicide again. She was rescued by a stranger.

She eventually started a relationship with William Godwin, and became pregnant. The pair decided to marry to grant their child legitimacy. This revealed that she had not been married to Imlay, and lost Wollstonecraft many friends. The marriage also reflected badly on Godwin, who had advocated ending marriage in his treatise Political Justice. They moved into conjoined houses.

It was upon her death that Godwin released a memoir of Wollstonecraft, and this memoir revealed much of her unconventional life, including her illegitimate child and her suicide attempts. These were used to delegitimize her work, however, I seriously suggest reading it. She was clearly a woman who felt very deeply and passionately, and her work, especially Vindication is well-crafted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Yes, this contains an affiliate link. I am a poor grad student, forgive me.*

 

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