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Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley are two writers whose ideas are likely to be similar. Shelley admits that she is influenced by her mother. Therefore, the purpose of this essay is to find out and to identify the ideas presented in Wollstonecraft’s essay on women’s rights A Vindication for the Rights of Woman (1792) and see if they are incorporated into Shelley’s novella Mathilda (1819).
My analysis of A Vindication for the Rights of Woman shows that Wollstonecraft’s main ideas are that limited education, the subjugation of women by the family, female dependency on men and romantic thinking are the source for women’s inferiority. This essay identifies and examines these ideas in the light of some secondary material and tries to suggest that they are visible as themes in Shelley’s Mathilda. In Mathilda, these ideas are visible as themes throughout the novel. The tragedy that befalls the characters illustrates the immoral and self-destructive tendencies which women obtain when being subject to these conditions. On the other hand, Shelley does not emphasize a lack of education and offers an additional point of view where Wollstonecraft’s views on motherhood are criticized.
The conclusion drawn is that Wollstonecraft’s ideas must have had an influence on Shelley as the fate of the characters is an illustration of the society that is criticized in A Vindication for the Rights of Woman and its destruction. However, Shelley does not agree on ideas with the subject of upbringing and goes against a few of her mother’s main points, namely the role of mothers and the pre-eminence of education. They mostly have a consensus as most ideas that are present in one work are present in the other but Shelley has rebelled against some of her mother’s notions.