Jan 18, 2017
I recently finished reading Mary and The Wrongs of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft. I received this book from a friend of my mothers. I actually received multiple books from my mother’s friend, many of them classics such as Villette by Charlotte Bronte, Emma by Jane Austen, Frankenstein by Mary Shelly (who is, by the way, the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft), etc. I managed to find many books that I enjoyed from her gift.
Honestly, I am mixed about this book. It is essentially two separate stories in one: Mary and The Wrongs of Woman. There are many similarities between the two of them. Both feature a leading female character: Mary in Mary and Maria in The Wrongs of Woman. As you may notice, their names are basically the same since Mary is the English version of Maria. Both are woman who lament the married life. They had married the wrong person, both arranged marriages, and grieve their loss of freedom. Their hearts are captured by a men named Henry. There is much suffering their lives. The similarities go on and on.
At the time this was written, women wanting to be independent must have been a radical idea. Some might say this theme of female independence is extremely feminist. The pains Maria goes to attempt to get a divorce are great and lengthy. Mary avoids to meet her husband for as long she can. In Wollstonecrafts words, wives are the property of men who can do nothing but sit silently and become a slave to their husbands. I strongly felt for Wollstonecraft, as these works must have been incredibly autobiographical.
While I applaud the sentiment behind them, I am not sure if I liked this book much. The exposition can get long and tedious. The Henry in The Wrongs of Woman goes into a lengthy monologue about his history that goes on for four pages although he prefaced this monologue by saying he did not want to talk too much about himself. The Mary’s inner dialogue can get extremely tiring and too lavish in words for me to fully comprehend their meaning.
However, this book did stir my emotions and my eyes teared up a bit at points. I am so grateful to live in a world where a woman has more freedom. It’s sad this isn’t universal across the entire world, yet, but I would say progress is there. As someone who is also apprehensive of tying myself down and getting married, I truly did empathize with these characters. Being with someone for (supposedly) the rest of my life is a great decision that really should not be taken lightly. Even now, it’s expected for everyone to go down this path but for those who don’t wish for it, it should never be forced upon them.
So, would I recommend this book? I’m not sure. I don’t think I would actively go out of my way to do so but I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it. It’s definitely worth a shot. Would I keep this book? Sadly, no. This book is going into my donation pile.