91+ Best Mary Wollstonecraft Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Mary Wollstonecraft was an English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights. Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft’s life, which encompassed several unconventional personal relationships at the time, received more attention than her writing. Profoundly inspirational Mary Wollstonecraft quotes will fire up your brain and encourage you to look at life differently while making you laugh.

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Famous Mary Wollstonecraft Quotes

Women are systematically degraded by receiving the trivial attentions which men think it manly to pay to the sex, when, in fact, men are insultingly supporting their own superiority. — Mary Wollstonecraft

But what a weak barrier is truth when it stands in the way of an hypothesis! — Mary Wollstonecraft

Perhaps the seeds of false-refinement, immorality, and vanity, have ever been shed by the great. Weak, artificial beings, raised above the common wants and defections of their race, in a premature and unnatural manner, undermine the very foundation of virtue, and spread corruption through the whole mass of society! — Mary Wollstonecraft

Taught from infancy that beauty is woman’s sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will quickly become good wives; – that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers. — Mary Wollstonecraft

It is time to effect a revolution in female manners – time to restore to them their lost dignity. It is time to separate unchangeable morals from local manners. — Mary Wollstonecraft

It would be an endless task to trace the variety of meannesses, cares, and sorrows into which women are plunged by the prevailing opinion that they were created rather to feel than reason, and that all the power they obtain must be obtained by their charms and weaknesses. — Mary Wollstonecraft

There must be more equality established in society, or morality will never gain ground, and this virtuous equakity 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

The conduct and manners of women, in fact, evidently prove that their minds are not in a healthy state; for, like the flowers which are planted in too rich a soil, strenght state; usefulness are sacrificed to beauty; and the flaunting leaves, after having pleased a fastidious eye, fade, disregarded on the stalk, long before the season when they ought to have arrived at maturity. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Fondness is a poor substitute for friendship. — Mary Wollstonecraft

A war, or any wild-goose chase, is, as the vulgar use the phrase, a lucky turn-up of patronage for the minister, whose chief merit is the art of keeping himself in place. — Mary Wollstonecraft

At school boys become gluttons and slovens, and, instead of cultivating domestic affections, very early rush into the libertinism which destroys the constitution before it is formed; hardening the heart as it weakens the understanding. — Mary Wollstonecraft

The flexible muscles growing daily more rigid give character to the countenance ; that is, they trace the operations of the mind with the iron pen of fate, and tell us not only what powers are within, but how they have been employed. — Mary Wollstonecraft

It is vain to expect virtue from women till they are in some degree independent of men. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Let woman share the rights and she will emulate the virtues of man; for she must grow more perfect when emancipated … — Mary Wollstonecraft

Why is our fancy to be appalled by terrific perspectives of a hell beyond the grave? — Mary Wollstonecraft

Friendship and domestic happiness are continually praised; yet how little is there of either in the world, because it requires more cultivation of mind to keep awake affection, even in our own hearts, than the common run of people suppose. — Mary Wollstonecraft

A king is always a king – and a woman always a woman: his authority and her sex ever stand between them and rational converse — Mary Wollstonecraft

I love my man as my fellow; but his scepter, real, or usurped, extends not to me, unless the reason of an individual demands my homage; and even then the submission is to reason, and not to man. — Mary Wollstonecraft

From the respect paid to property flow, as from a poisoned fountain, most of the evils and vices which render this world such a dreary scene to the contemplative mind. — Mary Wollstonecraft

The birthright of man … is such a degree of liberty, civil and religious, as is compatible with the liberty of every other individual with whom he is united in a social compact. — Mary Wollstonecraft

The absurd duty, too often inculcated, of obeying a parent only on account of his being a parent, shackles the mind, and prepares it for a slavish submission to any power but reason. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Let not men then in the pride of power, use the same arguments that tyrannic kings and venal ministers have used, and fallaciously assert that women ought to be subjected because she has always been so…. It is time to effect a revolution in female manners – time to restore to them their lost dignity…. It is time to separate unchangeable morals from local manners. — Mary Wollstonecraft

I think I love most people best when they are in adversity; for pity is one of my prevailing passions. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Men neglect the duties incumbent on man, yet are treated like demi-gods; religion is also separated from morality by a ceremonial veil, yet men wonder that the world is almost, literally speaking, a den of sharpers or oppressors. — Mary Wollstonecraft

What, but the rapacity of the only men who exercised their reason, the priests, secured such vast property to the church, when a man gave his perishable substance to save himself from the dark torments of purgatory. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Nothing contributes so much to tranquilizing the mind as a steady purpose – a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Modesty is the graceful, calm virtue of maturity; bashfulness the charm of vivacious youth. — Mary Wollstonecraft

I earnestly wish to point out in what true dignity and human happiness consists. 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, 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

I begin to love this little creature, and to anticipate his birth as a fresh twist to a knot which I do not wish to untie. Men are spoilt by frankness, I believe, yet I must tell you that I love you better than I supposed I did, when I promised to love you forever….I feel it thrilling through my frame, giving and promising pleasure. — Mary Wollstonecraft

I must be allowed to add some explanatory remarks to bring the subject home to reason-to that sluggish reason, which supinely takes opinions on trust, and obstinately supports them to spare itself the labour of thinking. — Mary Wollstonecraft

The endeavor to keep alive any hoary establishment beyond its natural date is often pernicious and always useless. — Mary Wollstonecraft

My husband – my king. — Mary Wollstonecraft

People thinking for themselves have more energy in their voice, than any government, which it is possible for human wisdom to invent; and every government not aware of this sacred truth will, at some period, be suddenly overturned. — Mary Wollstonecraft

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

The graceful ivy, clasping the oak that supported it, would form a whole in which strength and beauty would be equally conspicuous. — Mary Wollstonecraft

I am an unfortunate and deserted creature, I look around and I have no relation or friend upon earth. These amiable people to whom I go have never seen me and know little of me. I am full of fears, for if I fail there, I am an outcast in the world forever. — Mary Wollstonecraft

How frequently has melancholy and even misanthropy taken possession of me, when the world has disgusted me, and friends have proven unkind. I have then considered myself as a particle broken off from the grand mass of mankind. — Mary Wollstonecraft

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

Love, from its very nature, must be transitory. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Society can only be happy and free in proportion as it is virtuous. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Men with common minds seldom break through general rules. Prudence is ever the resort of weakness; and they rarely go as far as as they may in any undertaking, who are determined not to go beyond it on any account. — Mary Wollstonecraft

True happiness must arise from well-regulated affections, and an affection includes a duty. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Till women are more rationally educated, the progress in human virtue and improvement in knowledge must receive continual checks. — Mary Wollstonecraft

But women are very differently situated with respect to eachother – for they are all rivals (…) Is it then surprising that when the sole ambition of woman centres in beauty, and interest gives vanity additional force, perpetual rivalships should ensue? They are all running the same race, and would rise above the virtue of morals, if they did not view each other with a suspicious and even envious eye. — Mary Wollstonecraft

I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves. — Mary Wollstonecraft

And this homage to women’s attractions has distorted their understanding tosuch an extent that almost all the civilized women of the present century are anxious only to inspire love, when they ought to have the nobler aim of getting respect for their abilities and virtues. — Mary Wollstonecraft

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

Life cannot be seen by an unmoved spectator. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience. — Mary Wollstonecraft

If the abstract rights of man will bear discussion and explanation, those of women, by a parity of reasoning, will not shrink from the same test. — Mary Wollstonecraft

For any kind of reading I think better than leaving a blank still a blank, because the mind must receive a degree of enlargement and obtain a little strength by a slight exertion of its thinking powers; besides, even the productions that are only addressed to the imagination, raise the reader a little above the gross gratification of appetites, to which the mind has not given a shade of delicacy. — Mary Wollstonecraft

If women be educated for dependence; that is, to act according to the will of another fallible being, and submit, right or wrong, to power, where are we to stop? — Mary Wollstonecraft

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

The appetites will rule if the mind is vacant. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Surely something resides in this heart that is not perishable – and life is more than a dream. — Mary Wollstonecraft

The mind will ever be unstable that has only prejudices to rest on, and the current will run with destructive fury when there are no barriers to break its force. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Some women govern their husbands without degrading themselves, because intellect will always govern. — Mary Wollstonecraft

It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world. — Mary Wollstonecraft

I do earnestly wish to see the distinction of sex confounded in society, unless where love animates the behaviour. — Mary Wollstonecraft

How can a rational being be ennobled by any thing that is not obtained by its own exertions? — Mary Wollstonecraft

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

Slavery to monarchs and ministers, which the world will be long freeing itself from, and whose deadly grasp stops the progress of the human mind, is not yet abolished. — Mary Wollstonecraft

No man chooses evil because it’s evil. He only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Men and women must be educated, in a great degree, by the opinions and manners of the society they live in. — Mary Wollstonecraft

A slavish bondage to parents cramps every faculty of the mind — Mary Wollstonecraft

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

As a sex, women are habitually indolent; and every thing tends to make them so. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Nothing, I am sure, calls forth the faculties so much as the being obliged to struggle with the world. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Friendship is a serious affection; the most sublime of all affections, because it is founded on principle, and cemented by time. The very reverse may be said of love. In a great degree, love and friendship cannot subsist in the same bosom; even when inspired by different objects they weaken or destroy each other, and for the same object can only be felt in succession. The vain fears and fond jealousies, the winds which fan the flame of love, when judiciously or artfully tempered, are both incompatible with the tender confidence and sincere respect of friendship. — Mary Wollstonecraft

I think schools, as they are now regulated, the hot-beds of vice and folly, and the knowledge of human nature supposedly attained there, merely cunning selfishness. — Mary Wollstonecraft

In every age there has been a stream of popular opinion that has carried all before it, and given a family character, as it were, to the century. — Mary Wollstonecraft

An immoderate fondness for dress, for pleasure, and for sway, are the passions of savages; the passions that occupy those uncivilized beings who have not yet extended the dominion of the mind, or even learned to think with the energy necessary to concatenate that abstract train of thought which produces principles…. that women from their education and the present state of civilized life, are in the same condition, cannotbe controverted. — Mary Wollstonecraft

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

Every political good carried to the extreme must be productive of evil. — Mary Wollstonecraft

It is the preservation of the species, not of individuals, which appears to be the design of Deity throughout the whole of nature. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Women ought to have representatives, instead of being arbitrarily governed without any direct share allowed them in the deliberations of government. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Age demands respect; youth, love. — Mary Wollstonecraft

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 organised 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

A modest man is steady, an humble man timid, and a vain one presumptuous. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Men, in general, seem to employ their reason to justify prejudices…rather than to root them out. — Mary Wollstonecraft

The highest branch of solitary amusement is reading; but even in the choice of books the fancy is first employed; for in reading, the heart is touched, till its feelings are examined by the understanding, and the ripening of reason regulate the imagination. This is the work of years, and the most important of all employments. — Mary Wollstonecraft

The being cannot be termed rational or virtuous, who obeys any authority, but that of reason. — Mary Wollstonecraft

When any prevailing prejudice is attacked, the wise will consider, and leave the narrow-minded to rail with thoughtless vehemence at innovation. — Mary Wollstonecraft

I never wanted but your heart–that gone, you have nothing more to give. — Mary Wollstonecraft

The last man! Yes I may well describe that solitary being’s feelings, feeling myself as the last relic of a beloved race, my companions extinct before me… — Mary Wollstonecraft

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

When we feel deeply, we reason profoundly. — Mary Wollstonecraft

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

Good habits, imperceptibly fixed, are far preferable to the precepts of reason. — Mary Wollstonecraft

Women all want to be ladies, which is simply to have nothing to do, but listlessly to go they scarcely care where, for they cannot tell what. — Mary Wollstonecraft

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