notes wollstonecraf - 2 Examine Wollstonecrafs An IntroducTon as constrained by being the product oF its day and age INTRODUCTION A liberal essayist of

notes wollstonecraf - 2 Examine Wollstonecrafs An...

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2. Examine Wollstonecraf’s ‘An IntroducTon’ as constrained by being the product oF its day and age. INTRODUCTION A liberal essayist of the eighteenth century, WollstonecraF was an ardent proponent of poli±cal and social freedom. In her work she combined logic and polemics in arguing for greater social jus±ce and individual autonomy. In²uenced by such Enlightenment thinkers as Thomas Paine and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, WollstonecraF extended the radical doctrine of the rights of man to include the rights of woman. Many now consider her controversial manifesto, A Vindica±on of the Rights of Woman, with Strictures on Poli±cal and Moral Subjects (1792), the ³rst modern feminist tract, thus bearing out WollstonecraF's claim that she was "the ³rst of a new genus." The changing status of women in the twen±eth century and the growing acceptance of feminism have wrought both an upsurge of interestin WollstonecraF and a corresponding change in the cri±cal appraisal of her work. ´ew modern cri±cs debate WollstonecraF's ideological stance; with the controversy thus defused, cri±cal aµen±on has shiFed to a more careful considera±on of her literary and stylis±c merit. Seen from this standpoint, WollstonecraF's wri±ngs have drawn mixed reviews. One frequent objec±on is that, although WollstonecraF's ideas are ³rmly grounded in philosophy, they are oFen loaded with emo±onal polemics. The two Vindica±ons and An Historical and Moral View, indica±ve as they are of the fervently held beliefs of their author, are thought by many commentators to be too passionate to succeed as poli±cal disquisi±ons. V. S. Pritcheµ's descrip±on of A Vindica±on of the Rights of Woman as "a passionate, asser±ve, headlong, slapdash book, terribly repe±±ous andexclamatory" could well be applied to the other two essays as they are all characterized by indigna±on and anger expressed instrong and certain terms. Other cri±cs contend that the essays succeed precisely because of the passion that informs them, and that their undeniable sincerity heightens their e¶ect. On balance, WollstonecraF's shortcomings are considered of minor importance in rela±on to the ideological innova±on of the essays, par±cularly A Vindica±on of the Rights of Woman, which Marie Mitchell Olesen Urbanski has declared the "prototype of feminist protest literature." CONCLUSION It is primarily for her radical essays that WollstonecraF is remembered, however. As a writer, her primary concern throughout her life was independence, and it is for her independent thought, par±cularly as it is expressed in A Vindica±on of the Rights of Woman, that she is renowned.Once derided as "this female luna±c," she is now recognized, as Ellen Moers has said, as "the greatest of polemical feminists," and is credited with being the ³rst author to ar±culate modern feminist principles. Perhaps the widely recognized fundamental validity of her work isMary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects
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