Mary ventures in farming. Wollstonecraft, tired of her

Mary Wollstonecraft was not only an influential writer but also an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and is known for her appeals to social philosophy. Wollstonecraft’s modern intellection and pressing views on society and the female race, set her apart from not only the men of the time, but the women as well. Mary Wollstonecraft was born on April 27, 1759 in Spitalfields, London, England. Her father was abusive and spent his income on a series of unsuccessful ventures in farming. Wollstonecraft, tired of her tumultuous relationship with her father and following the death of her mother in 1780, left home to become a teacher. She opened up her own school in 1784 with her sister Eliza, and best friend at the time Fanny. Her experiences as a teacher inspired her views in Thoughts on the Education of Daughters. With her friend Fanny passing in 1785, Wollstonecraft took a position as governess for the Kingsborough family in Ireland. She spent three years there but realized that she was made for something outside of domestic work. Wollstonecraft desired to write.  In 1788, Wollstonecraft returned back home to London and began working as a translator for publisher known for radical texts, James Johnson, who would later publish several of her works. When Johnson launched the Analytical Review in 1788, Mary became a regular contributor. Within four years of working with Johnson, she published her most famous work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (Zook 1).In 1792, Wollstonecraft left London to observe the French Revolution in Paris. She soon met a man named Captain Gilbert Imlay, an American timber merchant and adventurer. In a whirlwind romance, Wollstonecraft moved in with Imlay and two years later she gave birth to a daughter who she named Fanny in honor of her late best friend.  While nursing her firstborn, Wollstonecraft wrote a conservative critique of the French Revolution in An Historical and Moral View of the Origin and Progress of the French Revolution. She also wrote a deeply personal travel narrative, Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, which became her most popular book in the 1790s. Unfortunately Wollstonecraft’s relationship with Imlay fell apart shortly after her daughter’s birth. Wollstonecraft embarked on a voyage to Scandinavia in 1795, on which she wrote Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, with a maid and her daughter, in the wake of two suicide attempts following the break up with Imlay. Imlay suggested the voyage as a way for her to recover money and property owed to him (Canuel 2). After their travels to Scandinavia, Imlay left her. After her suicide attempt, Wollstonecraft gathered herself and returned home to London to work again for James Johnson.  With Johnson’s support and help, Wollstonecraft began working strictly on her works (Zook 2). After persistent convincing, Wollstonecraft joined Johnson’s influential writing group. This group of radical writers included William Godwin, Thomas Paine, Thomas Holcroft and William Blake. Shortly after joining the writing group, Wollstonecraft began a liaison of sorts with William Godwin, the father of philosophical anarchism. Despite their belief in the tyranny of marriage, Wollstonecraft married Godwin on March 29, 1797 due to her being pregnant with his child. The marriage between Wollstonecraft and Godwin was happy but unfortunately cut short. Wollstonecraft died eleven days after the birth of their daughter Mary Godwin, who would later go on to write Frankenstein, due to complications of childbirth (Zook 3). Mary Wollstonecraft’s writings continue to proceed her, develop and shape opinions of many, even after her death. Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman is one of the most famous and trailblazing works of feminism. Published in 1792, this work argued that the educational system of the time trained and encouraged women to be dependent on men and incapable of being successful on their own. These findings upset Wollstonecraft as she believed that women were to be of equal importance and given equal opportunity to succeed. Wollstonecraft posited that an educational system that allowed girls the same advantages as boys would result in women who would be not only successful wives and mothers but also more than capable and thriving workers. Wollstonecraft said herself  “Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will quickly become good wives; – that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” (Zook 4). While Wollstonecraft paved the way for many feminists, other women had made advances to further equality. But, Wollstonecraft’s work was unique in the fact that she suggested that the betterment of women’s status would be effected through political change as the radical reform of national educational systems. The publication of  A Vindication of the Rights of Woman caused considerable controversy but failed to bring about any immediate reforms. From the 1840’s, members of the American and European women’s movements brought back some of the book’s principles and distinct values (Zook 5).  Wollstonecraft’s Maria:The Wrongs of Woman was the unfinished novelistic sequel to A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Maria:The Wrongs of Woman was published posthumously by her husband William Godwin and is considered by most to be her most radical feminist work. Maria:The Wrongs of Woman was a novel about a woman who was placed in an insane asylum by her husband. She starts the novel with scenes of the asylum to elicit terror and intrigue the reader. Wollstonecraft wants to inform the reader that this terror is specifically bound to gender, and attacks on human rights. The novel points to the eighteenth century society’s issues more rather than the woman herself and criticizes the institution of marriage and its holds and control on the woman involved in the marriage. The novel also pioneered the celebration of female sexuality and cross-class identification between women. The celebration of female sexuality along with the publications of Godwin’s scandalous memoirs of Wollstonecraft’s life are strong factors in why Maria:The Wrongs of Woman was frowned upon by the generation and society in which it was released in. Wollstonecraft’s Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, makes one of the most important and crucial contributions during the Romantic and Enlightenment period to the understanding of history as progressive. In one sense Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark engages in an Enlightenment discourse that privileges city refinement over the barbarism of country life, and views progress so far as it corresponds with economic development.  Mark Canuel said: Many believe the role of immigration in Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark removes notions of improvement from the additive logic of refinement and creates new possibilities in which observed human agents are released from their present burdens and resituated within new configurations of political obligation (Canuel 1). Mary openly acknowledges in Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark that were addressed to Gilbert Imlay, that the work describes a struggle to come to terms with the horrible things she experienced in the French Revolution. Wollstonecraft’s view of imagination allows us to get a look at her position on the most important and prominent competing discourses on the French Revolution during her age. Her argument was that in the absence of the an orderly progress in political affairs, the French had no other option or way out. Her position in Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark differs from critical attacks by people like Edmund Burke while she removes herself from the sympathetic views of the likes of Helen Maria Williams (Canuel 4). Wollstonecraft’s purpose of Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark is to anticipate a future for the French Revolution that is more promising than the current state. Wollstonecraft said that she hoped that despite the present horrors of the Revolution, it would eventually normalize politics as a common topic of discussion and encourage its understanding. She insisted that stable government comes from the advancement of political science which is inseparable from an enlightened and progressive approach. What the writings Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark argues and what we can learn from them is that it may be a figment of imagination to think that social improvement progresses on a hope and trying to wish it into existence rather than putting in the work to create a desired reform. Amidst all of the horrors of the Revolution, Wollstonecraft said “I hope to show that there is a kind of horror beyond the Gothic, a threat for which even it cannot provide containment” (Sherman 1). What Mary Wollstonecraft is most known for is her appeals to social philosophy and her outspoken, and at the time, left brain thinking although she never wished for women to be superior over men, just power over themselves. In Wollstonecraft’s Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, she paraphrased a Biblical quote, “We shall no longer see as through a glass darkly… now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known”. The image of the mirror has been used often in feminist history and theories to depict females as a looking glass, as trapped in the looking glass, or in the area beyond the looking glass, as if to seem like Alice from Alice in Wonderland. (Garner 83) The reference to Alice also alludes to the fact that Alice is helpless, all alone when she is lost, and that she can’t save herself from the trouble she got herself in. Wollstonecraft said:My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone. I earnestly wish to point out in what true dignity and human happiness consists – I wish to persuade women to endeavour to acquire strength, both mind and body, and to convince them that the soft phrases, susceptibility of heart, delicacy of sentiment, and refinement of taste, are almost synonymous with epithets of weakness, and that those beings who are only objects of pity and that kind of love, which has been termed its sister, will soon become objects of contempt. (Garner, 85)Mary was frustrated that tales as old as time depict women as either helpless or conniving. Wollstonecraft states that “We must get entirely clear of all notions drawn from the wild traditions of original sin: the eating of the apple, the theft of Prometheus, the opening of Pandora’s box, and the other fables, too tedious to enumerate on” (Garner 85).  Wollstonecraft believed that men created their vision of women in the image of themselves so the fact that women were always depicted in this light as deceitful and the center of most problems, casts the shadow of the men themselves.     Wollstonecraft said, “Arguments about women’s natural inferiority are only men’s rationalizations for the superior social positions they have unjustifiably seized, and their talk of natural female want-to-ness is merely a cover for the sexual appetite men both fear and relish in themselves” (Garner 83). To Wollstonecraft, women are seen as inferior not only to men but to society and its treatment of its citizens. Wollstonecraft said, “A sacrifice must be made in delimiting the boundaries of women as citizens. There must be someone or something that doesn’t deserve rights and against which women will emerge” (Sherman 1). It is so troublesome to hear a woman in that time of not only condescending men, but also a condescending society and government system, allude to the fact that women were seen as something to rid society of. So troubling that in fact women were always struggling to keep up and were constantly losing their grip on the metaphorical rock of receiving the rights they were supposedly promised by the constitution of their country, but because of the opinions of men, they were treated as a thorn in society’s side. While Wollstonecraft has been praised by many for her works and trailblazing ideas, she has been put under scrutiny by many then and to this day. Wollstonecraft’s ideas were often seen as radical and extreme to the point where many called her views masculine. Wollstonecraft would use a masculine stance in her appeals to contemplate and challenge how best to change the minds and structure of the society she was living in. Wollstonecraft’s critics were unsure on how to approach this masculine way of thinking. Her critics didn’t know if they should praise it for being so revolutionary for the current time or look at it now as a section of feminism that is overdone and sold out (Garner 84). She uses her masculine ways of thinking to reflect men back on themselves as if the looking glass metaphor was reversed. Wollstonecraft claimed that it is the language of the men at the time that “robbed the the whole female gender of its dignity” and so she uses that same language in her appeals to reveal men’s own insecurities and insufficiencies. Wollstonecraft places herself inside the narrow minds of the middle class men at the time, heaping scorn on their thoughts and their processes of helplessness, which she saw as weakness and societal failure (Garner 2).Wollstonecraft had a hope for a future of benevolence and forward thinking. She desired change; a change for equality, not for superiority. Mary spent her life pressing on for a change and died in pursuit of that change. Although her works didn’t bring about that 180 degree flip she dreamt of, she has most certainly left her mark on feminism and its progression as we know it today.