A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Writing in an age when the call for the rights of man had brought revolution to America and France, Mary Wollstonecraft produced her own declaration of female independence in 1792. Passionate and forthright, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman attacked the prevailing view of docile, decorative femininity, and instead laid out the principles of emancipation: an equal education for girls and boys, an end to prejudice, and for women to become defined by their profession, not their partner. Mary Wollstonecraft’s work was received with a mixture of admiration and outrage – Walpole called her ‘a hyena in petticoats’ – yet it established her as the mother of modern feminism. (From feedbooks.com)
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Which line from the text indicates the personal motivation Wollstonecraft has for writing this text?
Did you know that you can look up any word in the book or in the questions and answer choices? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Use this feature to look up the word "barren."
According to the introduction, what is a societal problem Wollstonecraft plans to address in this text?
It took a lot of courage to write a feminist text in the 18th century. Watch this video to learn more about this extraordinary woman. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 1 - THE RIGHTS AND INVOLVED DUTIES OF MANKIND CONSIDERED.
How does Wollstonecraft view the current state of women in her society?
Wollstonecraft is exploring logic and reason in this text. Watch this video to learn about what these concepts mean in a philosophical sense. (This annotation contains a video)
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of the 18th century. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological, and educational thought. Why do you think Wollstonecraft is discussing his philosophy? (This annotation contains an image)
In this line, Wollstonecraft is making a distinction between
Why does Wollstonecraft make reference to barbarism?
Barbarism is a time when man was considered to be uncivilized. Ancient Rome, in which men fought to the death in colosseums, is an example of this cultural period. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 2 - THE PREVAILING OPINION OF A SEXUAL CHARACTER DISCUSSED.
Good readers notice how authors structure a text. Watch this video to learn about different ways to organize a text then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
How does Wollstonecraft organize the information in order to develop her arguments?
In these lines, what is Wollstonecraft suggesting about a woman's upbringing?
Wollstonecraft is suggesting that women get their "education" by observing situations in life whereas men have the benefit of a formal education which gives them an advantage.
According to this paragraph, what do men think a woman's role should be?
Wollstonecraft includes the phrase "What nonsense!" to dispute an idea presented in the previous paragraph. Notices other opinions and refutes she includes as you read and consider whether you agree with her or not.
Watch this video about 18th century women's fashion. Consider why men may have wanted women to dress this way. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on these descriptions and arguments, we can tell that men wanted women to be
According to this paragraph, what do men believe cannot exist at the same time?
Who is Wollstonecraft referring to in this phrase?
Based on what you have read about women's roles, in 2-3 sentences, explain what the phrase "submissive charm" means. Use evidence from the text to support your assertion.
Watch this video collection of images from the 18th century. Based on the images, think about how women and men are perceived. Connect these images to the arguments Wollstonecraft is making about inequality. (This annotation contains a video)
Wollstonecraft is writing from an 18th century British woman's perspective. Read this article about the laws of "coverture" then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a link)
Why might Wollstonecraft agree that coverture needs to be banished?
Chapter 3 - THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
According to Wollstonecraft, what is an argument men make to secure their role as superior to women?
"Hysteria" is a term that men have used for centuries to describe a woman's inability to control her emotions. How does this popular notion connect to Wollstonecraft's argument? (This annotation contains an image)
Wollstonecraft references Rosseau quite a bit in this text. Watch this video to learn more about his background and philosophies to broaden your knowledge and perspective. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the text, how does Wollstonecraft view Rousseau?
What does this line reveal about Wollstonecraft's view of men?
In this sentence, Wollstonecraft is charging women to revolt. Watch this video to learn more about what women's revolutions have looked like in history. (This annotation contains a video)
Watch this video about the triangular slave trade then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
Wollstonecraft discusses the idea of oppression a great deal in this chapter. How is the oppression of women in the 18th century, similar or different from the oppression slaves endured during this period?
As you continue to read, Wollstonecraft reveals her point of view on the topic of gender equality through her arguments. Listen to this tutorial about point of view to learn how to decipher her perspective. (This annotation contains a video)
Considering the context, what does the phrase "fanciful female" mean?
Chapter 4 - OBSERVATIONS ON THE STATE OF DEGRADATION TO WHICH WOMAN IS REDUCED BY VARIOUS CAUSES.
What is the main argument being made in this sentence?
Wollstonecraft repeats the phrase "power of generalizing ideas." What does this idea mean?
Remember you can look up words you are unfamiliar with. Use the define feature to learn what "coquetry" means.
The author most likely includes this paragraph to
These lines show an example of
In history, men are often portrayed as heroes due to their war efforts. How does this image aligns with the descriptions about masculinity? (This annotation contains an image)
Wollstonercraft discusses the role women play as emotional beings. Watch this trailer from the film "Pride and Prejudice" which was originally a novel written by Jane Austen, published in 1813. (This annotation contains a video)
How do the actions of the women in "Pride and Prejudice" connect to the descriptions of women in this chapter?
Ironically, this idea ____________ men because it suggests they are insensitive human beings.
18th century gender philosophy puts men and women in separate categories. However, aren't some of the traits attributed to women desirable? If that is the case, then are men being deprived of all they can be as well?
"Piquant society" refers to people who have good taste and are notably rich.
Which central idea is Wollstonecraft presenting in this paragraph?
Does this sound familiar? In popular belief, women who are smart are seen as less sexy than women who have great beauty.
What does the phrase "vivacity gives place to reason" mean?
Wollstonecraft focuses a great deal on marriage as an institution. Watch this video about the history and origins of marriage to understand the lens through which Wollstonecraft is speaking. (This annotation contains a video)
How does Wollstonecraft view the institution of marriage?
Good readers are able to identify genre. This text is a compilation of argument essays about the same topic. Watch this video to learn how authors write and structure arguments to better understand Wollstonecraft's style and skill. (This annotation contains a video)
Wollstonecraft effectively proves and structures her arguments by
Chapter 5 - ANIMADVERSIONS ON SOME OF THE WRITERS WHO HAVE RENDERED WOMEN OBJECTS OF PITY, BORDERING ON CONTEMPT.
This shows that young women have no
Why do you think Wollstonecraft considers Rousseu's ideas about youth as "crude?" Is she being fair in her assessment?
Wollstonecraft capitalized this word to emphasize a point about male privilege.
What does this suggest about male privilege?
Which line from the text supports the idea that men and women operate in separate sectors of thinking?
A moral person is one who knows important life lessons, especially ones concerning what is right or prudent and are gained from experience.
What is Willstonecraft suggesting in this sentence about marriage?
What does this theory from Rousseau mean?
Which type of figurative language is Wollstonecraft employing in this sentence to make her point?
Use the define feature to learn what "vexatious" means.
Think about what popular culture considers beautiful today. In 2-3 sentences, explain how these ideals about women are similar to the ideals evident in Wollstonecraft's era.
Wollstonecraft is exploring ideas about youth and beauty. This is a popular topic to discuss when evaluating women's roles in society. Has this idea changed over time? (This annotation contains an image)
Which type of figurative language is the author using in this sentence?
The term "lip-service" is an idiom that means to approve of something.
Good readers are able to site evidence that supports assertions. Watch this video about evidence based questions. (This annotation contains a video)
Which line from the text shows that women are unaware of the power they could have over men?
Based on the punctuation the author chose to use, how does she feel about the statement she is making?
What message is suggested through this sentence?
Hester Chapone was an 18th century writer of conduct books for women. (This annotation contains an image)
How does Wollstonecraft feel about Hester Chapone?
How does the idea of prudence connect to the topic of gender roles?
As it is used in context, what does the phrase "vegetable life' mean?
Wollstonecraft discusses individualism as it relates to gender equality. Visit this website and read the Bill of Rights then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a link)
How do documents such as The Bill of Rights fail or succeed in granting equal rights to women? Use evidence from the text and the website to support your assertion.
Which type of figurative language is used in this line?
Based on her thoughts, how does Wollstonecraft feel about religion as it is relates to reason?
Chapter 6 - THE EFFECT WHICH AN EARLY ASSOCIATION OF IDEAS HAS UPON THE CHARACTER.
In this chapter, Wollstonecraft discusses what character is. Watch this video to learn about character in order to better understand her point of view. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on this line, what shapes someone's character?
What does Wollstonecraft believe is important for strong relations between the sexes?
This is another example of why women should be formally educated.
Chapter 7 - MODESTY COMPREHENSIVELY CONSIDERED AND NOT AS A SEXUAL VIRTUE.
This shows that Wollstonecraft feels modesty is
This chapter explores modesty which is typically spoken about from a religion perspective and means to have the quality or state of being that is unassuming in the estimation of one's abilities.
What is an antonym for "gallantry?"
How do allusions fit into the idea of modesty?
According to this paragraph, how does this image deviate from Wollstonecraft's assertions about women's hygiene?
Examine the image of this woman then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains an image)
Wollstonecraft believes women should maintain certain character and femininity based on
This citation indicates that the author obtained this information from an outside source. How does this validate her credibility as an author?
Chapter 8 - MORALITY UNDERMINED BY SEXUAL NOTIONS OF THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD REPUTATION.
Wollstonecraft frequently discusses a woman's role as related to her social rank. Peruse this site about social rank in 18th century England, then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a link)
According to the website and Wollstonecraft, how does a woman's social rank influence her gender role? Use evidence from the website and the text to support your assertion.
The purpose of this paragraph is to
Use the define feature to learn what "sagacious" means then reread the sentence for understanding.
Which central idea has Wollstonecraft developed in this chapter?
What connection do gluttony and appetite have to gender roles?
Chapter 9 - OF THE PERNICIOUS EFFECTS WHICH ARISE FROM THE UNNATURAL DISTINCTIONS ESTABLISHED IN SOCIETY.
Why does Wollstonecraft include this phrase in her text?
This line shows that the author feels a higher social rank is more detrimental to the women born into it than women born into inferior ranks.
Considering the time period and the context, which war could Rousseau be referring to?
Which type of figurative language is being used in this sentence?
According to the text, what is one benefit that would come from women having access to a formal education?
For women in the 18th century, "servitude" often meant duties to a husband or menial work such as cleaning. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 10 - PARENTAL AFFECTION.
This chapter explores the art and purpose of parenting. Watch this video to learn about growing up in 18th century England then consider what this implies about motherhood during this time. (This annotation contains a video)
Which line from the text shows a popular belief about women and motherhood?
Chapter 11 - DUTY TO PARENTS.
What do you think "common attention" means?
Wollstonecraft believes children should be raised with
When Wollstonecraft uses the word "warped," she is referring to
Wollstonecraft is discussing parenting because she believes gender is nurtured by a person's environment.
Chapter 12 - ON NATIONAL EDUCATION.
According to the content in this video, Wollstonecraft's vision of women's education has been
Watch this video about the history of women's education in America then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
Study this timeline that tracks women's history in the 18th and 19th centuries then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a link)
According to this timeline document, when did "national education" become more prominent for women?
In these lines, Wollstonecraft is showing _________ with the way 18th century classrooms are managed.
Despite being an advocate for education, the author is showing her dissatisfaction with the way people learn in schools. What does this reveal about her thinking?
According to the text, how will education benefit women?
Who are the "weak slaves?"
According to her assertions, Wollstonecraft places great value on
The "littlenesses" the author is referring to are the duties and chores women have in the domestic realm.
This line reveals one of the author's beliefs about the purpose of education and equal rights.
Why is Wollstonecraft discussing animals in this selection?
Which would be the opposite of an "exalted female character"?
Based on these descriptions, what do you think is lost when a woman has liberated herself from the confines of gender norms?
The term "vindication" is used in the title of this work. Which line connects to the term?
Chapter 13 - SOME INSTANCES OF THE FOLLY WHICH THE IGNORANCE OF WOMEN GENERATES; WITH CONCLUDING REFLECTIONS ON THE MORAL IMPROVEMENT THAT A REVOLUTION IN FEMALE MANNERS MIGHT NATURALLY BE EXPECTED TO PRODUCE.
A metropolis is a major city. This is where many feminists have gained notable ground in women's history due to the forward thinking that cropped up in these areas. (This annotation contains an image)
Why did Wollstonecraft decide to insert these questions into this section?
The author believes men do "not conform to the law of reason" because they
Which central idea that was presented earlier in the text does this paragraph support?
According to this paragraph, what stands as a substitute for the mind?
Based on this line, if Wollstonecraft were alive today, how would she feel about women's relationship with beauty?
As it is used in context, what does the word "murdered" mean in this sentence?
Why is Wollstonecraft using the example about horses in this section? Which point is she trying to prove?
Based on this conclusive statement, do you agree with Wollstonecraft's assertions about women and education? Why or why not?
Think about the number of women you know who are enrolled in college or who have graduated. How have texts likes these impacted their lives?