Mary Wollstonecraft Quotes

Mary Wollstonecraft

Till society is very differently constituted, parents, I fear, will still insist on being obeyed, because they will be obeyed, and constantly endeavour to settle that power on a Divine right, which will not bear the investigation of reason.

Mary Wollstonecraft
(A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - Chapter 11, 1792)
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How frequently has melancholy and even misanthropy taken possession of me, when the world has disgusted me, and friends have proven unkind. I have then considered myself as a particle broken off from the grand mass of mankind.
Mary Wollstonecraft (Letters Written in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, 1796)
Should it be proved that woman is naturally weaker than man, from whence does it follow that it is natural for her to labour to become still weaker than nature intended her to be? Arguments of this cast are an insult to common sense.
Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - Chapter 3, 1792)
Friendship and domestic happiness are continually praised; yet how little is there of either in the world, because it requires more cultivation of mind to keep awake affection, even in our own hearts, than the common run of people suppose.
Mary Wollstonecraft (Letters Written in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, 1796)
The more I see of the world, the more I am convinced that civilisation is a blessing not sufficiently estimated by those who have not traced its progress; for it not only refines our enjoyments, but produces a variety which enables us to retain the primitive delicacy of our sensations.
Mary Wollstonecraft (Letters Written in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, 1796)
It would be an endless task to trace the variety of meannesses, cares, and sorrows, into which women are plunged by the prevailing opinion that they were created rather to feel than reason, and that all the power they obtain, must be obtained by their charms and weakness.
Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - Chapter 4, 1792)
Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience; but as blind obedience is ever sought for by power, tyrants and sensualists are in the right when they endeavor to keep women in the dark, because the former only want slaves, and the latter a plaything.
Mary Wollstonecraft
How many women thus waste life away the prey of discontent, who might have practised as physicians, regulated a farm, managed a shop, and stood erect, supported by their own industry, instead of hanging their heads surcharged with the dew of sensibility, that consumes the beauty to which it at first gave lustre.
Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - Chapter 9, 1792)
It appears to me impossible that I should cease to exist, or that this active, restless spirit, equally alive to joy and sorrow, should only be organised dust - ready to fly abroad the moment the spring snaps, or the spark goes out which kept it together. Surely something resides in this heart that is not perishable, and life is more than a dream.
Mary Wollstonecraft (Letters Written in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, 1796)
Executions, far from being useful examples to the survivors, have, I am persuaded, a quite contrary effect, by hardening the heart they ought to terrify. Besides, the fear of an ignominious death, I believe, never deterred anyone from the commission of a crime, because in committing it the mind is roused to activity about present circumstances.
Mary Wollstonecraft (Letters Written in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, 1796)
An ardent affection for the human race makes enthusiastic characters eager to produce alteration in laws and governments prematurely. To render them useful and permanent, they must be the growth of each particular soil, and the gradual fruit of the ripening understanding of the nation, matured by time, not forced by an unnatural fermentation.
Mary Wollstonecraft (Letters Written in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, 1796)
Let not men then in the pride of power, use the same arguments that tyrannic kings and venal ministers have used, and fallaciously assert that women ought to be subjected because she has always been so.... It is time to effect a revolution in female manners -- time to restore to them their lost dignity.... It is time to separate unchangeable morals from local manners.
Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - Chapter 2, 1792)
I am a strange compound of weakness and resolution! However, if I must suffer, I will endeavour to suffer in silence. There is certainly a great defect in my mind - my wayward heart creates its own misery - Why I am made thus I cannot tell; and, till I can form some idea of the whole of my existence, I must be content to weep and dance like a child - long for a toy, and be tired of it as soon as I get it.
Mary Wollstonecraft (Letter to Joseph Johnson, 1792)
I earnestly wish to point out in what true dignity and human happiness consists. I wish to persuade women to endeavor to acquire strength, both of mind and body, and to convince them that the soft phrases, susceptibility of heart, delicacy of sentiment, and refinement of taste, are almost synonymous with epithets of weakness, and that those beings are only the objects of pity, and that kind of love which has been termed its sister, will soon become objects of contempt.
Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - Introduction, 1792)
What, but the rapacity of the only men who exercised their reason, the priests, secured such vast property to the church, when a man gave his perishable substance to save himself from the dark torments of purgatory; and found it more convenient to indulge his depraved appetites, and pay an exorbitant price for absolution, than listen to the suggestions of reason, and work out his own salvation: in a word, was not the separation of religion from morality the work of the priests...?
Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Men, 1790)
Man preys on man; and you mourn for the idle tapestry that decorated a gothic pillar, and the dronish bell that summoned the fat priest to prayer. You mourn for the empty pageant of a name, when slavery flaps her wing, ... Why is our fancy to be appalled by terrific perspectives of a hell beyond the grave? -- Hell stalks abroad; -- the lash resounds on the slave's naked sides; and the sick wretch, who can no longer earn the sour bread of unremitting labour, steals to a ditch to bid the world a long good night.
Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Men, 1790)
Probably the prevailing opinion, that woman was created for man, may have taken its rise from Moses's poetical story; yet, as very few, it is presumed, who have bestowed any serious thought on the subject, ever supposed that Eve was, literally speaking one of Adam's ribs, the deduction must be allowed to fall to the ground; or, only so far admitted as it proves that, from the remotest antiquity, found it convenient to exert his strength to subjugate his companion, and his invention to shew that she ought to have her neck bent under the yoke, because the whole creation was only created for his convenience or pleasure.
Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Men, 1790)
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Mary Wollstonecraft Biography

Born: April 27, 1759
Died: September 10, 1797

Mary Wollstonecraft was an British writer, philosopher and feminist activist. She is best known for her "Vindications" works and for her advocacy for equal rights for women in society.

Notable Works

Mary: A Fiction (1788)
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
(1792)
Letters Written in Sweden, Norway and Denmark (1796)
Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman (1798)

Related Authors
Mary Shelley (Daughter)
William Godwin (Husband)