Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman


By Mary Wollstonecraft

cover image of Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman

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First published posthumously in the eighteenth century by her husband, Mary Wollstonecraft's Maria, or The Wrongs of Woman is still today reckoned as a seminal feminist work. It takes the form of an unfinished novel whose events revolve around the character of Maria who is mischievously sent to a mental asylum by her husband after taking her only child from her. In the asylum, Maria befriends other women, mainly her attendant Jemima whose life is as miserable as hers. Jemima reveals that she was born an illegitimate child and then had to work as a servant from early childhood. Her master used to abuse her and even rape her before she was dismissed from her job by his wife. Jemima decides to help Maria by bringing her books to read. In the remaining parts of the book, different details of Maria's tragic experience with her corrupt and tyrannical husband are recounted. Generally, the narrative expresses a fierce diatribe against patriarchy, the institution of marriage and the unfair legal system of eighteenth-century Britain. The book also represents a very early celebration of female sexuality.

Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman