Mary Wollstonecraft Character Analysis

804 Words4 Pages
Mary Wollstoneraft’s partly autobiographical novel Mary, A Fiction, shows how a talented young woman learns to think and act for herself. Her first heroine, Mary, is an outspoken and autonomous woman, rather than the typical accommodating, soft and domesticated woman of her period. Wollstonecraft undoubtedly refuses to follow models of female characters or narratives of the time (romantic or sentimental fiction). This is clearly shown in the prefatory advertisement to Mary, A Fiction, where she anticipates that she will “develop a character different from those generally portrayed. This woman is neither a Clarissa, a Lady G-, nor a Sophie” (Wollstonecraft, 1788: 4). In fact, she refuses to be absorbed by the dominant literary, social, cultural…show more content…
Like her mind, her voice is “but the shadow of a sound” and her body so delicate “that she became a mere nothing” (Wollstonecraft, 1788: 5). While Eliza might think of herself as a sensitive and superior woman, her emotions have actually denaturalized her desires. This is observed in her inappropriate attachment to her dogs, her affection for sentimental novels, and her indifference to maternal responsibilities, where she cannot even undertake the education of her own daughter. Eliza herself was educated with “the expectation of a large fortune” and of course “became a mere machine” (Wollstonecraft, 1788: 5). She wished to be united to an officer with whom she had danced; however, her father forced her to marry “another in a more distinguished rank of life”, whom she “promised to love, honour and obey, (a vicious fool), as in duty bound” (Wollstonecraft, 1788: 5). From this statement, there may be two interpretations for the ‘vicious fool’ that is introduced. Firstly, the ‘vicious fool’ is likely to be representing the man she is forced to marry, Mary’s father, Edward. In that case, he is being negatively represented while Eliza is being victimized, for she is marrying a man she does not love. However, there is a second interpretation regarding Eliza as the ‘vicious fool’ herself. Here, Wollstonecraft’s intentions are possibly indicating that she is a foolish woman for marrying a man for his wealth instead of for love, conforming to society’s
Open Document