Study Guide

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Slavery

By Mary Wollstonecraft

Slavery

For Wollstonecraft, women of her time were slaves to men: they were the legal property of men and forced to obey them. If men had a good reason for treating women like slaves, Wollstonecraft maintains she wouldn't argue with this inequality. But the fact is that men oppressed women without giving any logical reason why. In the end, they just act like bullies and tyrants.

It's important to remember here that Wollstonecraft was writing right after the American Revolution and during the French Revolutions: a time when tyranny and unjustified authority were being questioned like never before. So she hopped on the anti-tyranny bandwagon with A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and demanded that men stop treating women like slaves.

Questions About Slavery

  1. What is the most common argument that men give for enslaving women? Why does Wollstonecraft think it's bogus?
  2. At the end of the book, how does Wollstonecraft try to convince men to stop oppressing women? Is it effective? Why or why not?
  3. How often does Wollstonecraft use the language of slavery throughout this book? Is it too much? Too little? Why?

Chew on This

In Vindication, Wollstonecraft argues that slavery can be justified—just not in the case of women.

In Vindication, we learn that there is no difference between gender inequality and full-blown slavery.

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