Anticipation Stage and "Call"
At the beginning of this book, Wollstonecraft realizes that there is a major problem with the way women are treated in English society (or pretty much any society, but she doesn't so much get into that). As an educated woman, she knows that she is just as capable of making rational arguments as any of the men she's ever met. That's why she feels it's necessary to sit down and write a major text outlining all of the reasons why women should be educated the same way that men are.
At first, things are looking great. Wollstonecraft has laid out her premises (which all seem pretty solid) for why women are just as intelligent as men. After all, if the soul is immortal, it's different from the body. And if the soul is different from the body, then it doesn't have a gender. Therefore, women's souls and men's souls are all made up of the same spiritual material. That means that there's no reason to educate men and women differently.
Unfortunately, Wollstonecraft knows that rational arguments might not be enough for her audience, since so many famous writers have argued that women's education should teach women to be pretty and silent. Jean-Jacques Rousseau is one of the biggest supporters of this view, and sadly for Wollstonecraft, he was one of the most beloved thinkers in the world during the time at which she was writing. She does everything she can to point out all of the inconsistencies in his thinking and in the thinking of other writers who agree with him.
Just when she's made the case for women's education, Wollstonecraft admits that the English education system in general is pretty flawed. And it all starts with parents who only want their own kids to succeed. Parents, quite frankly, are super selfish because they tend to pin all of their frustrated dreams on their kids, hoping that they'll have a second chance to do something important with their lives. Unfortunately, this leads to a total breakdown in community and leads to schools that do nothing but rank students from best to worst. This is definitely not the way for schools to create educated and moral communities. Unfortunately, Wollstonecraft knows that it'll be very tough to change this kind of thinking.
The Thrilling Escape
Wollstonecraft knows that she is fighting an uphill battle. But she closes the book strongly by returning to her earlier arguments and urging her readers to offer their daughters the same education as their sons. The education system might not fix itself overnight, but people can do a lot of good by making sure that both men and women get equal access to a good education. For Wollstonecraft, a person can't develop their reasoning skills without education, and a person can never truly understand moral goodness without fine-tuned reasoning skills.