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Ukraine native, Mary Wollstonecraft grew up in the 1700s during the Women’s Rights movement. At a time when females faced adversity, this English writer would find herself in the midst of it all. Yet, it wasn’t her many writings that gained public attention, but Wollstonecraft’s personal life was in fact.
Mary’s short-lived dream of writing brought forth noteworthy novels. The first “French Revolution”, which was then followed by children’s literature, and a book on conduct! But her most infamous writing dealt with the time at hand entitled A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and published in 1972.
Standing up for women on a global scale, Mary Wollstonecraft used her radical thoughts to create novel sayings. Which are the inspiration to our below collection of Mary Wollstonecraft Quotes!
Mary Wollstonecraft Quotes
1. “Taught from infancy that beauty is woman’s scepter, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
2. “It is vain to expect virtue from women till they are in some degree independent of men.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
3. “If we revert to history, we shall find that the women who have distinguished themselves have neither been the most beautiful nor the most gentle of their sex.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
4. “Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
5. “The beginning is always today.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
6. “No man chooses evil because it is evil; he just mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
7. “I do not wish them [women] to have power over men, but over themselves.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
8. “Men and women must be educated, in a great degree, by the opinions and manners of the society they live in.” —Mary Wollstonecraft
9. “I never wanted but your heart–that gone, you have nothing more to give.” —Mary Wollstonecraft
10. “My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
11. “Children, I grant, should be innocent; but when the epithet is applied to men or women, it is but a civil term for weakness.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
12. “Surely something resides in this heart that is not perishable – and life is more than a dream.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
13. “Friendship is a serious affection; the most sublime of all affections, because it is founded on the principle, and cemented by time.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
14. “Only that education deserves emphatically to be termed cultivation of the mind which teaches young people how to begin to think.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
15. “The divine right of husbands, like the divine right of kings, may, it is hoped, in this enlightened age, be contested without danger.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
16. “But what a weak barrier is a truth when it stands in the way of a hypothesis!” — Mary Wollstonecraft
17. “It is time to effect a revolution in female manners – time to restore to them their lost dignity – and make them, as a part of the human species, labor by reforming themselves to reform the world. It is time to separate unchangeable morals from local manners.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
18. “The same energy of character which renders a man a daring villain would have rendered him useful in society, had that society been well organized.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
19. “In fact, it is a farce to call any being virtuous whose virtues do not result from the exercise of its own reason.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
20. “Independence I have long considered as the grand blessing of life, the basis of every virtue; and independence I will ever secure by contracting my wants, though I were to live on a barren heath.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
21. “I earnestly wish to point out in what true dignity and human happiness consist. 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, the 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
22. The Graceful ivy, clasping the oak that supported it, would form a whole in which strength and beauty would be equally conspicuous.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
23. “I love my man as my fellow; but his scepter, real, or usurped, extends not to me unless the reason of individual demands my homage; and even then the submission is to reason, and not to man.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
24. “Women are systematically degraded by receiving the trivial attentions which men think it manly to pay to their sex, when, in fact, men are insultingly supporting their own superiority.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
25. “Simplicity and sincerity generally go hand in hand, as both proceed from a love of truth.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
26. “Surely something resides in this heart that is not perishable – and life is more than a dream.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
27. “Women are degraded by the propensity to enjoy the present moment, and, at last, despise the freedom which they have not sufficient virtue to struggle to attain.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
28. “The power of generalizing ideas, of drawing comprehensive conclusions from individual observations, is the only acquirement, for an immortal being, that really deserves the name of knowledge.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
29. “Weakness may excite tenderness, and gratify the arrogant pride of man, but the lordly caresses of a protector will not gratify a noble mind that pants for, and deserves to be respected. Fondness is a poor substitute for friendship.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
30. “A king is always a king, and a woman is always a woman: his authority and her sex ever stand between them and rational converse.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
31. “Learn from me, if not by my precepts, then by my example, how dangerous is the pursuit of knowledge and how much happier is that man who believes his native town to be the world than he who aspires to be greater than his nature will allow.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
32. “What but a pestilential vapor can hover over society when its chief director is only instructed in the invention of crimes, or the stupid routine of childish ceremonies?” — Mary Wollstonecraft
33. “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 organized 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
34. “You know I am not born to tread in the beaten track the peculiar bent of my nature pushes me on.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
35. “Women have seldom sufficient employment to silence their feelings; a round of little cares, or vain pursuits frittering away all strength of mind and organs, they become naturally only objects of sense.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
36. “I like to see your eyes praise me and, during such recitals, there are interruptions, not ungrateful to the heart, when the honey that drops from the lips is not merely words.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
37. “My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone. I earnestly wish to point out in what true dignity and human happiness consist – I wish to persuade women to endeavor to acquire strength, both mind, and body, and to convince them that the soft phrases, susceptibility of heart, the delicacy of sentiment, and refinement of taste, are almost synonymous with epithets of weakness and that those beings who are only objects of pity and that kind of love, which has been termed its sister, will soon become objects of contempt.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
38. “For years I have endeavored to calm an impetuous tide, laboring to make my feelings take an orderly course, it was striving against the stream.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
39. “Every glance afforded coloring for the picture she was delineating on her heart.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
40. “Love from its very nature must be transitory. To seek for a secret that would render it constant would be as wild a search as for the philosopher’s stone or the grand panacea: and the discovery would be equally useless, or rather pernicious to mankind. The holiest band of society is friendship.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
41. “But let me now stop; I may be a little partial, and view everything with the jaundiced eye of melancholy – for I am sad – and have a cause.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
42. “There must be more equality established in society, or morality will never gain ground, and this virtuous equality will not rest firmly even when founded on a rock if one half of mankind be chained to its bottom by fate, for they will be continually undermining it through ignorance or pride” — Mary Wollstonecraft
43. “And having no fear of the devil before my eyes, I venture to call this a suggestion of reason, instead of resting my weakness on the broad shoulders of the first seducer of my frail sex.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
44. “So ludicrous, in fact, do these ceremonies appear to me, that I scarcely am able to govern my muscles when I see a man start with eager, and serious solicitude to lift a handkerchief, or shut a door, when the LADY could have done it herself, had she only moved a pace or two.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
45. “True sensibility, the sensibility which is the auxiliary of virtue, and the soul of genius, is in society so occupied with the feelings of others, as scarcely to regard its own sensations.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
46. “To speak disrespectfully of love is, I know, high treason against sentiment and fine feelings; but I wish to speak the simple language of truth, and rather to address the head than the heart. To endeavor to reason love out of the world, would be to out Quixote Cervantes, and equally offend against common sense; but an endeavor to restrain this tumultuous passion, and to prove that it should not be allowed to dethrone superior powers, or to usurp the scepter which the understanding should ever coolly wield, appears less wild.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
Related: The Best Quotes from Don Quixote
47. “Without the aid of the imagination, all the pleasures of the senses must sink into grossness.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
48. “I then supped with my companions, with whom I was soon after to part forever – always a most melancholy, death-like idea – a sort of separation of the soul; for all the regret which follows those from whom fate separates us, seems to be something torn from ourselves.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
49. “Only by the jostlings of equality can we form a just opinion of ourselves.” — Mary Wollstonecraft
50. “like the flowers that are planted in too rich a soil, strength and usefulness are sacrificed to beauty;” — Mary Wollstonecraft
Video: Mary Wollstonecraft – Biography of Her Impact as a Writer and Philosopher
Mary’s writings has strong impact on advocating for the role of women and contributing to feminist theory. This video is very well done and short – definitely worth a watch if you want to learn more about her life and impact on feminism.
Mary’s words ring true for women from all walks of life! The above Mary Wollstonecraft Quotes we chose are for personal empowerment and the greater good of women.
May they bring you inner strength and power to overcome any and all obstacles! We encourage you to share them among your female relatives and loved ones!
And if you want to learn more about her philosophy, be sure to read her most influential book, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.
Image Credit: John Opie, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons