Study Guide

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Chapter 11

By Mary Wollstonecraft

Chapter 11

Duty to parents

  • For some reason, says Wollstonecraft, humanity is prone to laziness when it comes to thinking. No one likes to have to justify any decisions. They just want to act on habit, tradition, and authority so they won't have to think too much about anything.
  • Many parents are not willing to earn their children's respect. They demand it, and this creates a model of tyrannical authority that will poison a child's thinking for the rest of its life.
  • Wollstonecraft blames bad parents for a lot of bad that exists in the world.
  • Wollstonecraft thinks that young girls suffer from parents' tyranny even more than boys do. But in a good world, parents would calmly sit their children down and explain to them why they (the children) should follow the parents' advice until they (the children) have the ability to judge for themselves.
  • Everyone knows that it's easier to give a command than to give a reasoned argument for something. But then again, it's easier to eat pizza than broccoli, too. But the second is much better for you in the long run.
  • Giving commands also teaches people the terrible habit of governing according to moods. In other words, parents are more likely to punish kids based on what mood they're in instead of handing out punishments that are rational and appropriate.
  • Wollstonecraft angers a lot of her readers when she says that children should be taught to see and acknowledge their parents' shortcomings and insecurities. It's not until children and parents can speak to each other as rational beings, blending love and esteem, that future societies will be filled with better people.

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