A Vindication of the Rights of Woman | Study Guide

Mary Wollstonecraft

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Course Hero. "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Study Guide." Course Hero. 29 Nov. 2017. Web. 19 Nov. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/A-Vindication-of-the-Rights-of-Woman/>.

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Course Hero, "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Study Guide," November 29, 2017, accessed November 19, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/A-Vindication-of-the-Rights-of-Woman/.

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman | Glossary


affected: (adj) In this context, affected refers to some attitude or behavior that is put on for show and does not reflect true feelings. Wollstonecraft criticizes upper-class women whose behavior is affected.

animadversion: (n) criticism or censure

blind obedience: (n) doing as one is told without question, hesitation or thought. Wollstonecraft objects to parents demanding blind obedience from their children because it discourages the development of children's ability to reason.

coeducational: (adj) including both males and females. Wollstonecraft's new educational system features schools that teach boys and girls together, at least until age nine.

day school: (n) a school that provides no boarding facilities where students return to their homes at the end of the school day. In America today most schools are day schools so the label is unnecessary, but in Wollstonecraft's time, boarding schools were quite common.

magnetizers: (n) mesmerists or hypnotists. Many hypnotists of Wollstonecraft's time claimed they could heal serious illnesses. Wollstonecraft criticizes women for being susceptible to such charlatans.

modesty: (n) Wollstonecraft defines this term in two ways: the traditional way associated with the body and sexuality and also a modesty of the mind that "teaches a man not to think more highly of himself than he ought." She devotes an entire chapter to these two forms of modesty.

nativities: (n) horoscopes or predictions based on a person's birthdate. Wollstonecraft objects to women who believe in such things, which she sees as going against God's teaching.

natural rights: (n) certain rights that human beings have simply by being human. Wollstonecraft was an adherent of John Locke, who identified life, liberty, and property as natural rights.

rake: (n) a person who indulges in questionable acts including excessive drinking or sexually permissive behaviors. Wollstonecraft admits some women are drawn to rakes but suggests this reflects a lack of education rather than a lack of morals.

sensualism: (n) a movement in philosophical and literary circles of that era that focused on emotion and the expression of the senses as truth rather than aiming for a purely rational approach to life. Wollstonecraft utterly rejects sensualism.

state of nature: (n) a philosophical construct of how early human groups organized without a class structure and lived without government used by many philosophers including Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Wollstonecraft believes Rousseau actually wanted to return society to this primitive state, but most scholars do not agree with her interpretation.

unaffected: (adj) without affectation or insincere behavior, the opposite of "affected." Wollstonecraft emphasizes her intention to write in an unaffected way throughout this book, attempting to be rational and straightforward rather than flowery or elaborate.

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