Madeleine Joseph CC Response #3 Mary Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman four years before Jane Austen began to write Pride and Prejudice . The two texts, of course, are about women, and appear to praise the woman who works to polish and develop characteristics of virtue seen as manly, the woman who is less concerned about beauty than she is about being a self-sufficient moral being. More interesting, however, is the subtext found in Wollstonecraft and Austen indicative of the large-scale economic and social changes taking place in late 18 th Century Britain. In the Introduction, Wollstonecraft makes it clear that her argument is as much an expression of indignation about the role and treatment of women in British society as it is a condemnation of the British upper class and other traditional sources of authority. She writes, “The education of the rich tends to render them vain and helpless,” and also “I pay particular attention to those in the middle class, because they appear to be in the most natural state.” Just 20 years before, the existence of a middle class in Britain could be disputed.
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