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Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 – 1797)


English social philosopher and pioneering advocate of women's rights; wife of William Godwin, and mother of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.
Mary Wollstonecraft
It appears to me impossible that I should cease to exist, or that this active, restless spirit, equally alive to joy and sorrow, should only be organised dust ready to fly abroad the moment the spring snaps, or the spark goes out which kept it together. Surely something resides in this heart that is not perishable, and life is more than a dream.
Wollstonecraft quotes
We reason deeply, when we forcibly feel.
Wollstonecraft
It is the preservation of the species, not of individuals, which appears to be the design of Deity throughout the whole of nature.




Wollstonecraft Mary quotes
No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.
Wollstonecraft Mary
According to the liberal tradition outlined by Mary Wollstonecraft in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), education is the key to social improvement, allowing a woman to develop her rational and moral capacities.
Mary Wollstonecraft quotes
According to Wollstonecraft, "Independence is the grand blessing of life" Wollstonecraft here refers to both economic independence and independent opinion. Education is the key to both.
Mary Wollstonecraft
The preposterous distinction of rank, which render civilization a curse, by dividing the world between voluptuous tyrants and cunning envious dependents, corrupt, almost equally, every class of people, , because respectability is not attached to the discharge of the relative duties of life, but to the station, and when the duties are not fulfilled, the affections cannot gain sufficient strength to fortify the virtue of which they are the natural reward. Still there are some loop-holes out of which a man may creep, and dare to think and act for himself; but for a woman it is an herculean task, because she has difficulties peculiar to her sex to overcome, which require almost super-human powers.
Wollstonecraft Mary quotes
It is a melancholy truth; yet such is the blessed effect of civilization! the most respectable women are the most oppressed; and, unless they have understandings far superiour to the common run of understandings, taking in both sexes, they must, from being treated like contemptible beings, become contemptible.
Wollstonecraft
Women are systematically degraded by receiving the trivial attentions which men think it manly to pay to the sex, when, in fact, men are insultingly supporting their own superiority.
Wollstonecraft Mary
Should it be proved that woman is naturally weaker than man, from whence does it follow that it is natural for her to labour to become still weaker than nature intended her to be? Arguments of this cast are an insult to common sense, and savour of passion. The divine right of husbands, like the divine right of kings, may, it is to be hoped, in this enlightened age, be contested without danger, and though conviction may not silence many boisterous disputants, yet, when any prevailing prejudice is attacked, the wise will consider, and leave the narrow-minded to rail with thoughtless vehemence at innovation.
Mary Wollstonecraft
Independence I have long considered as the grand blessing of life, the basis of every virtue; and independence I will ever secure by contracting my wants, though I were to live on a barren heath.




Mary Wollstonecraft quotes
I write in a hurry, because the little one, who has been sleeping a long time, begins to call for me. Poor thing! when I am sad, I lament that all my affections grow on me, till they become too strong for my peace, though they all afford me snatches of exquisite enjoyment.
Mary Wollstonecraft
Executions, far from being useful examples to the survivors, have, I am persuaded, a quite contrary effect, by hardening the heart they ought to terrify. Besides, the fear of an ignominious death, I believe, never deterred anyone from the commission of a crime, because in committing it the mind is roused to activity about present circumstances.
Wollstonecraft quotes
It would be an endless task to trace the variety of meannesses, cares, and sorrows, into which women are plunged by the prevailing opinion that they were created rather to feel than reason, and that all the power they obtain, must be obtained by their charms and weakness.
Wollstonecraft Mary
Virtue can only flourish amongst equals.
Wollstonecraft Mary quotes
It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world.
Mary Wollstonecraft
Friendship and domestic happiness are continually praised; yet how little is there of either in the world, because it requires more cultivation of mind to keep awake affection, even in our own hearts, than the common run of people suppose. Besides, few like to be seen as they really are; and a degree of simplicity, and of undisguised confidence, which, to uninterested observers, would almost border on weakness, is the charm, nay the essence of love or friendship, all the bewitching graces of childhood again appearing.
Mary Wollstonecraft quotes
It is vain to expect virtue from women till they are in some degree independent of men; nay, it is vain to expect that strength of natural affection which would make them good wives and mothers. Whilst they are absolutely dependent on their husbands they will be cunning, mean, and selfish.
Mary Wollstonecraft
Women becoming, consequently weaker, in mind and body, than they ought to be...have not sufficient strength to discharge the first duty of a mother; and sacrificing to lasciviousness the parental affection...either destroy the embryo in the womb, or cast if off when born. Nature in every thing demands respect, and those who violate her laws seldom violate them with impunity.
Wollstonecraft Mary
The endeavor to keep alive any hoary establishment beyond its natural date is often pernicious and always useless.


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