Comparison of Literature of Mary Wollstonecraft and Frederick Douglass

Mary Wollstonecraft on Women

In Mary Wollstonecraft “Of the Pernicious Effects Which Arise from the Unnatural Distinctions Established in Society” Mary speaks about how the rich, gender inequality, and our society. Wollstonecraft states that the wealthy are disrespectful to the poor. Mary believes that for there to be equality for both genders is that; women should learn how to take care of themselves and become more independent. Those women should not rely on men to provide them shelter, food, etc. Heres was the issue, is that these ladies weren’t provided the chance to be independent if women were able to study careers such as; politics, art, healthcare, etc.

Mary states that if women were granted the golden opportunity to follow those professions than women “might save many from common and legal prostitution” and then maybe women would be able to show their high moral standards.

The women back then would have to get married to survive and it was legal prostitution for women.

‘It is more difficult for women to show their morality, it’s not like men just like the Wollstonecraft speaks “Destructive, however, as riches and inherited honors are to the human character, women are more debased and cramped, if possible, by them than men may still, in some degree, unfold their faculties, by becoming soldiers and statesmen” this means that men can show morality by going off to fight a war and become a soldier, however for women, they couldn’t become war heroes. (’

The issue with this is that women were and still are seen as second-class citizens, weak, and depressed which is just not right.

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Also, another thing that still kind of happens today is that women who did sexual acts were highly criticized; however, if they’re married not much of an issue. All women wanted was to be allowed more freedom and not to be treated as a servant by their husbands.

Frederick Douglass on Slavery

Just like how Mary W. spoke about how women wanted more liberty and to be treated equally by men, it is exactly what Frederick Douglass wanted for slaves. They both just wanted humans to treat each other fairly. Frederick Douglass didn’t blame a whole race yet understood why anyone barely stood up for the wrong that was going on. Frederick Douglass knew that if a white person stood against slavery, they would be rejected and even killed for standing against it. Frederick knew the reason why white people were afraid to stand out.

In Frederick Douglass’s writings, he speaks about his point of view as a slave when he was young; he opens up with his writing about this young lady whose a trader in the beginning who was ‘a woman of the kindest heart and finest feelings’. She didn’t treat Douglass and the other slaves like how their masters did. She was shocked at how she was being treated by Douglass and the slaves and so were they. That was until she got married, then became cruel and mean, worse than her spouse. He knew then, people only did what others did, it was sort of like a bandwagon.

In Frederick’s article, he talks about how slaves weren’t allowed to be taught how to read nor write by anyone. It was deemed unlawful and even unsafe to teach slaves. Mr. Auld his former slave master said: ‘ If you give a n*gger an inch, he will take an ell.’ Mr. Auld said it would spoil the slave meaning that if a lave could read and write, that they would understand what is going on. This correlates to Mary Wollstonecraft because it was a similar thing for Women just with careers and becoming independent.

Frederick did not only wanted slavery to be abolished, but he also wanted African Americans to be able to be individuals who could have the ability to read and write and become free as he did. So to help get us where we are at today, Frederick learned how to read and write which wasn’t simple to him years and different people. However, he got through it years later he becomes a human rights activist and a leader of an abolitionist.

How do they apply to our modern world

So the main question is; how do they apply to our modern world?

Similar things that are still happening today, with cancel culture; basically if a celebrity makes a mistake and it gets on twitter or any social media platform, many people will cancel them. Thus making it cancel culture. And if anyone stands up for them that person is canceled as well. Kind of what happened back then with slaves, but on a less extreme level. Frederick Douglass showed that even with laws in place to help voice our opinions.

As for Mary Wollstonecraft, though a lot has changed for women with more rights, the same doesn’t apply for the wealthy. Till today the poor are seen as lazy selfish addicts when the truth is half of the homeless are veterans who fought for this country. It happens around the world, people kissing up and being more respectful if someone looks rich, while disrespecting someone who doesn’t. This still can apply to the bandwagon situation too, a lot of people will hop on if they see someone rich, not the same for the unfortunate. However, it’s not as bad as back then with support systems for the misfortunate and homeless and charity for these communities. Thanks to people like Frederick Douglass and Mary Wollstonecraft for spreading words of wisdom and fighting for civil rights through speeches and such.

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Comparison of Literature of Mary Wollstonecraft and Frederick Douglass. (2022, Feb 02). Retrieved from

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