The Enlightenment Period

Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin

What were Wollstonecraft’s main political ideas?

In Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790) she argued against Irish statesman and political theorist Edmund Burke’s (1729–1797) conservative attack on the ideals of the French Revolution (liberty, equality, fraternity). Her claim that Burke’s endorsement of custom and tradition implied that slavery was acceptable made her famous overnight. Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792), in which Wollstonecraft sounded a clarion call for the recognition of women as human beings, was innovative in its progressive thought.


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