Study Guide

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Tough-o-Meter

By Mary Wollstonecraft

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(8) Snow Line

Wollstonecraft does her darnedest to make A Vindication of the Rights of Woman a commonsense and approachable argument for women's rights. But the fact remains that she wrote this book in 1792 for an educated audience and much of the language doesn't translate into the kind of language we think of as "commonsense and approachable" today. It's antiquated and there are weird words like "shew" being thrown around.

A romance novel this ain't, either in content or in accessibility. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman is a philosophical treatise, and you're as likely to find a real page-turner of a philosophical treatise (even today) as you are to find grandparents that have a favorable opinion of Grand Theft Auto. Is it possible? Surely. Is it probable? Hecky no.

No one reads A Vindication on the Rights of Woman for its riveting plotline. They read it because it's a fundamentally important text, even—or especially—today. It's fascinating, informative, thought-provoking and will make you a better citizen of the world. It will not prompt you to stay up late reading it under the blankets with a flashlight, however.

That said, the arguments in this book are clearly delineated and clear. You can totally read and understand this book: Wollstonecraft was a brilliant woman, and she knew that accessibility was one of the best ways to influence an audience.

Pro-tip: Make sure not to neglect the footnotes and endnotes. It might take some extra time, but it's worth it. Wollstonecraft drops all kinds of references in this book, and it can be easy to get lost without these handy-dandy notes.

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