"The Mask of Anarchy" and "Frankenstein". A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Bachelor Thesis, 2015

17 Pages, Grade: 1,0 ("sehr gut")


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Women in 19th Century England

3. Mary Wollstonecraft

4. The Mask of Anarchy and its Vindication
4.1. The Maniac Maid and Peterloo
4.2. The Maniac Maid and 19th Century Women
4.3. Freedom and Universal Rights
4.4. Joint Revolution: Call to Women and Men

5. Frankenstein and its Vindication
5.1. The Female Creature
5.2. The Creature’s Divide
5.3. Hope and Despair
5.4. The Family Unit

6. The Mask and Frankenstein: a Vindication of the Rights of Women

7. Conclusion

8. Works Cited

1. Introduction

When I read Percy Bysshe Shelley’s The Mask of Anarchy (The Mask) for the first time, I was immediately captivated by the important role that appears to be assigned to what Ashley J. Cross (2004, 190) calls “a series of connected female figures”. A female Hope is given the strength to stop the excesses of an unjust society, and it is a female voice that calls upon the men of England to “Rise like Lions after slumber” (l.151). Apparently, The Mask’s men are passive. Father time waits “Fumbling with his palsied hands” (l.93), and the men of England have been chained while asleep. This sharply contrasts to how women and men are depicted in Frankenstein. The novel’s women largely comply with contemporary gender norms: passive, docile, and dependent daughters, sisters, wives and mothers who are confined to the domestic sphere. They are not given a voice and are recurrently depicted as victims of a society dominated by ambitious, active men. In The Mask, by contrast, women not only survive tyrants, but they also emerge as highly influential forces in the establishment of an imagined future egalitarian society.

Frankenstein has long been accepted as a novel that embraces women’s rights. Some critics have also read The Mask in the context of 19th century society and its attitudes towards gender. In my thesis, I will argue that both works incorporate a strong call for women’s rights and that in spite of a different approach, the similarities between them go far deeper than they appear on the surface. I will emphasize the influence of Mary Wollstonecraft’s ideas on both writings. They seem to have been an invaluable source of information.

As nothing is written in an historical vacuum, I will first give a brief introduction to the situation of 19th century women in England and to Wollstonecraft’s main ideas. Next, an in-depth feminist reading of The Mask and Frankenstein will be developed. As for Frankenstein, I will show that the novel’s strongest feminist call emerges from an active, female voice in disguise. A comparison between the two readings will reveal an inextricable bond between The Mask, Frankenstein and Wollstonecraft’s writings. Although plenty of biographical material is available, I will not use it in my analyses. I’m convinced that the ingenuity of both texts speaks for itself.

2. Women in 19th Century England

As mentioned, I do not intend to fully detail the situation of women in 19th century England. However, a short introduction to this topic is necessary as “[g]reat works of art and literature […] always relate in an enigmatic fashion to their social environment”[1]. In Women in England 1500-1760. A social history, Anne Laurence (1994, 6) writes: “It was not until the second half of the eighteenth century that it became possible to think of women as having a position as autonomous beings in the world outside the household”. However, women were still largely confined to the domestic sphere deep into the 19th century. Patriarchal cultural scripts defined how women should behave and what their role in society should be. In 1713, Anne Finch wrote in her poem The Introduction: They tell us we mistake our sex and way;

They tell us, we mistake our sex and way:

Good breeding, fashion, dancing, dressing, play

Are the accomplishments we should desire;

To write, or read, or think or to inquire

Would cloud our beauty and exhaust our prime;

Whilst the dull manage of a servile house

Is held by some, our utmost art, and use[2].

One hundred years later nothing much had changed. Society still expected women to be passive and docile, and restricted their experiences to the private sphere.

Like women’s daily experience in early modern England was greatly limited by various male discourses on ideal womanhood – as fascinatingly described by Sara Mendelson and Patricia Crawford (1998) –, so the lives of women in 19th century England were still largely determined by similar dominant patriarchal scripts on femininity. Orthodox religious discourses had a major conservative influence on gender relations far into the 19th century[3]. It kept women imprisoned in serpentine images, condemned them to painful childbearing, and limited their role to raising children[4]. Women’s economic and professional opportunities were greatly limited by legal discourses. For example, the doctrine of coverture was still applicable to married women[5]. Medical discourses conceived the female body as imperfect, unstable spaces, and the cause of all their weaknesses. Based on biological differences, Rousseau for example asserts in Emile that: “the man should be strong and active; the women should be weak and passive”[6]. Women’s hysteria and their unruly passions were feared to disrupt society[7].The aggregate effect of these discourses on women resulted in an ideology that emphasised women’s moral, intellectual, and physical inferiority. It justified their submission to men. Even enlightened thinkers who fervently supported the idea of equal rights for all men were not likely to include women’s rights in the debate[8]. Rousseau for example was convinced that women were inferior “[b]y the very law of nature”[9]. In his writings, he argues that while man is given reason, woman is given modesty[10]. According to him, women possess timidity, chasteness, and modesty by nature, and even if it can be proved that these characteristics are not natural, he stresses that “it is in society’s interest that women acquire these qualities”[11]. In his point of view, gender equality subverts the social order.

Furthermore, Ana de Freitas Boe (2011, 351ff) points out that as of late 18th century, beauty became almost exclusively associated with the female body. In A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, Burke even argues that female beauty is beneficial to the social order as it will, for one, avoid men to roam. This emphasis on women’s exterior further contributed to the perception of women as inferior rational beings. Nathaniel Brown (1979, 172) accurately remarks that “the prevailing sexual norm of the age […] elevated women as physical objects but otherwise belittled or denied their powers”. Conduct books for ladies played a major role in promoting “eternal feminine virtues of modesty, gracefulness, purity, delicacy, civility, compliancy, reticence, chastity, affability, politeness”[12]. If women tried to escape their prescribed destiny, showed signs of ambition, or strived for independence, it could mean “becoming an “unsexed” or perversely sexed female”[13].

3. Mary Wollstonecraft

It is within this historical context that we have to read Mary Wollstonecraft’s work. Wollstonecraft, who was married to the radical liberal William Godwin and who was Mary Shelley’s mother, was an important philosopher and writer of her time. She was a true child of the enlightenment in that she embraced the human rights of men and emphasised the importance of reason as a means of establishing a natural order in society. One of her most important political writings, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (VRW), strongly opposes to any form of oppression as “tyranny, in whatever part of society it rears its brazen front, will ever undermine morality”[14]. While she attacks the “gaudy hereditary trappings of kings and nobles”[15], she draws parallels between “the divine right of kings” and “[t]he DIVINE right of husbands”[16]. In her opinion, both represent illegitimate authority. Moira Gatens (1991, 117) summarizes Wollstonecraft’s view as follows: “Just as monarchical rule is an irrational basis for society, so too is patriarchal rule”. As a result, Wollstonecraft extends the contemporary debate on equal rights for men to women. She denies “the existence of sexual virtues”[17]. In her opinion, women are rational creatures with virtually the same mental capacities as men, and therefore they should possess the same rights as men. Women are human creatures “who, in common with men, are placed on this earth to unfold their faculties”[18]. The fact that women are not able to do this is, in Wollstonecraft’s opinion, due to “a false system of education”[19], an ingenious “artificial structure”[20] put in place by men that renders women weak as it only prescribes “virtues incompatible with any vigorous exertion of intellect”[21]. She speaks about “mistaken notions of female excellence”[22]. Paul Youngquist (1991, 340) writes that in Wollstonecraft’s view, British culture alienates “its female members from their human potential, reducing their identity entirely to sex, which men define and control”.

One of Wollstonecraft’s major strengths is that she clearly realizes the importance of patriarchal texts which subordinate and imprison women. In VRW she extensively comments on these texts and explains the significance of it as follows:

As these volumes are so frequently put into the hands of young people, I have taken more notice of them than strictly speaking, they deserve; but as they have contributed to vitiate the taste, and enervate the understanding of many of my fellow-creatures, I could not pass them silently over[23].

Wollstonecraft wonders: “when will a great man arise with sufficient strength of mind to puff away the fumes which pride and sensuality have thus spread over the subject”[24]. However, for lack of virtuous men, women will have to take their fate into their own hands. She argues: “it is time to effect a revolution in female manner, time to restore to them their lost dignity, and make them, as a part of human species, labour by reforming themselves to reform the world”[25]. Wollstonecraft is convinced that a proper education will free women from forced sentiments and passions, and will teach them to be rational human beings. Women should be “reasonable creatures who from having received a masculine education, have acquired courage and resolution”[26]. Education should prepare them “to become the companion of man”[27], and “the more equality there is established between men, the more virtue and happiness will reign in society”. According to her, public virtue is rooted in private virtue, and private virtue is rooted in reason[28].

Although Wollstonecraft claims that she does not want “to invert the order of things”[29], Anne K. Mellor (2002, 148) rightly notices that “Wollstonecraft’s concept of the rational woman […] stood in stark contrast to her culture’s prevailing definition of the ideal woman”. This makes her indeed the “hyena in petticoats” [30] as Horace Walpole called her. Mellor (145) adds that although Wollstonecraft had been publicly denounced by 1800, many female authors continued to invoke her ideas in their writings. In the next chapter, I will argue that also Percy, a male author, rather openly embeds her ideas in The Mask of Anarchy.

4. The Mask of Anarchy and its Vindication

The Mask of Anarchy is a beautiful and gripping poem. Richard Holmes (2005, 532) calls it “the greatest poem of political protest ever written in English”. Determined that something needed to be done after the 1819 massacre in St. Peter’s Fields in Manchester, Shelley took up his pen and wrote the ninety-one-stanza poem. The initial flat tone – as if the men of England need time to realize what has befallen them – is interrupted by revolutionary thoughts that arise in short, strong stanzas. “In this ghastly masquerade” (l.27) of abusers, the poem almost visually depicts a situation of repression so violent that desperation seems to be the only answer. Masks, instead of disguising, reveal uncompromisingly the injustice of a hierarchical society: like Castlereagh, like Eldon, like Sidmouth, and “Like Bishops, lawyers, peers or spies” (l.29). Although all hope for change seems to be in vain, stanza 22 presents a turning point in the form of a female figure who is tired “With waiting for a better day” (l.91) and is willing to die a martyr “Expecting, with a patient eye, / Murder, Fraud, and Anarchy” (l.100-101).

While reading the poem, it is hard to ignore the male passivity that is deeply entrenched in it. Time, a father figure, “Fumbling with his palsied hands” (l.93) has grown weak and the men of England complain though only “With a murmur weak and vain” (l.189). However, to me, it is even more captivating to notice the female activity that runs through the poem. As mentioned in the introduction, an important role is apparently attributed to “a series of connected female figures”[31]. They act as crucial agents in disrupting the grotesque display of an unjust society. It is the maniac maid who calls a halt to Anarchy’s procession, and it is a motherly figure who calls for justice and who encourages the men of England, who have drifted into a slumber, to “Shake your chains to earth like dew” (l.153) – a call that takes up the last 55 stanzas of the poem. The fact that women are given a public voice in a time where submissive silence was supposed to be their highest quality cannot but capture my attention. I will argue that The Mask incorporates a powerful call for female emancipation and that Wollstonecraft’s influence is significant throughout the poem.

4.1. The Maniac Maid and Peterloo

The first female figure to play an important role is a maniac maid “And her name was Hope, she said: / But she looked more like Despair” (l.87-88). The maniac maid operates under the guise of despair. The ambiguity represented by her name has been construed by some critics as Percy’s insecurity about revolutionary forces and their potential to turn violent[32]. However, as the maid is a FEMALE personification of hope, I’m convinced that another possible meaning of her double identity lies in gender itself.

The Mask was part of a bigger discourse that arose after the Peterloo confrontations. Cross (2004, 167ff) points out that the massacre received extensive media coverage and that both political sides frequently used the image of innocent women as victims of male violence to depict the horror of the events. Andrew Franta (2001, 780) mentions: “a woman caught between the protesters and the yeomanry is one of several stock images that circulate in [contemporary newspaper] reports”. A good example of such an image, and strikingly similar to the action of the maniac maid, is George Cruikshank’s cartoon Massacre at St. Peter’s. Just like the maid lays down in the street “Right before the horses’ feet” (l.99), so does Cruikshank’s woman kneels down and desperately protects her child in front of the charging armed forces. Reports about the Peterloo Massacre reduced women to passive onlookers and victims of male violence. At first sight, the maniac maid seems to be one of these women, “an image transplanted from contemporary newspaper reports on the events in Manchester”[33]. However, The Mask refuses to victimise her. She wears a cloak of despair but is revealed as hope. Instead of victimising her, The Mask empowers her to stop the brute parade and to open up the road to freedom. If The Mask is read as an account of Peterloo itself – which Franta does[34] – then I agree with Cross (2004, 190) that the poem creates “ambivalence about the way female victim works in the political discourse of 1819”. He mentions that women actively participated in great numbers at Manchester in their fight for universal suffrage. In this historical context, The Mask gives them back their voice and highlights their political activity.

4.2. The Maniac Maid and 19th Century Women

Although this is an interesting reading, limiting the maid’s role to a reflection upon Peterloo-women, in my opinion, also limits the poem’s echo in time. I’m convinced that The Mask touches upon a more universal theme that is still very much alive today, namely female emancipation. For me, it is its reflection upon the subordinated position of 19th century women in general that makes The Mask timeless.

As previously described, Wollstonecraft is convinced that it is a false system of education that tricks women into believing that they are created “rather to feel than reason, and that all the power they obtain, must be obtained by their charms and weakness”[35]. She observes a split between the artificial male-made mask that 19th century women have to put on and the full human being, perfectly capable of reason, who hides behind it. Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar (1985, 15ff) describe this divide perfectly. They explain that the first thing women see in the mirror are scripts about the ideal woman that men have inscribed on it. It confines them to cages “like the feathered race”[36]. However, Gilbert and Gubar continue that when a woman looks long enough, she will meet forgotten aspects of her true self and discover her wish for autonomy. They refer to Elisabeth Coleridge’s poem, The Other Side of the Mirror, in which a female speaker is “Made mad because its hope was gone”[37] when she realizes the severity of the strictures men have imposed upon her. However, her despair turns into a glimpse of hope because “strength that could not change nor tire”[38] is about to “set the crystal surface free”[39]. The resemblance with the maniac maid is striking. Recognising the misery that a male-dominated society has brought upon her, she rediscovers her strength and dances “out of the debilitating looking glass of the male text into the health of female authority”[40]. She cannot remain silent any longer. The maid’s double identity perfectly mirrors Wollstonecraft’s divide. Despair has been forced upon her; Hope is her true self, her hidden strength that surfaces and asks to be recognised. As a result, The Mask gives women back the virtues which they, according to Wollstonecraft, have been artificially deprived of: “strength of mind, perseverance and fortitude”[41].

4.3. Freedom and Universal Rights

The question rises what it is exactly that allows the maid’s inner strength to be set free. What exactly inspires her to stand up against Anarchy at last? According to James Bieri, a second female figure – “a mist, a light, an image” (l.103) – saves the maid. He calls her the “next activist female inspiratrix, Liberty”[42]. The historical context, the repeated references to light and the fact that nature seems the only suitable way to describe the mist – its description begins and ends in terms of nature – undoubtedly links the mist to the Enlightenment and its concept of natural human rights. The image that rises is as natural “As flowers beneath May’s footstep waken” (l.122), will have an impact as strong as lightning, “And speak in thunder to the sky” (l.109). It is, as Cross summarizes (2004, 191) an “abstract revolutionary force” that disrupts the tyrannical dynamic of society. Although the mist materialises as a separate figure between the maid and her foes, it appears exactly at the moment when she lays down in the street as if it emerges from her. The Mask thus establishes a strong connection between the mist and the maid’s resistance. It are enlightened thoughts and the spirit of “Freedom” (l.156) – to which the largest part of the address beginning in stanza 39 is dedicated – that inspire the maid. In turn, she becomes a lightning example to the people, an inspiratrix of all men of England. I fully agree with Lee Hunt who saw the mist as “the description of the rise and growth of public Enlightenment”[43]. The maid’s individual awareness “Small at first, and weak, and frail” (l.104) grows into a collective awareness as “Thoughts sprung where’er that step did fall” (l.125).

Returning to Bieri’s characterisation of the mist, I do not agree with the fact that he presents the mist as a female figure. Gender does indeed matter when it comes to the mist, but The Mask uncompromisingly refers to it in a neutral way. Although the manuscript uses it and she, the final version exclusively refers to the mist as it[44]. I’m strongly convinced that its genderlessness is a deliberate choice. Morton D. Paley (1991, 100) mentions that it is “as if the force that brings about apocalyptic transformation must be beyond sexuality”. Freedom does not let itself be caught in terms of gender. This is reinforced by the fact that it is a female figure, the maid, from whom the mist rises up and who disperses the idea of freedom. As a result, The Mask represents it as a universal right and thereby extends the contemporary debate on the rights of men to the rights of women, just like Wollstonecraft did in her writings. It is the growing consciousness that freedom is a universal right that empowers and inspires the maid.

4.4. Joint Revolution: Call to Women and Men

The Mask thus shows us a strong woman who, inspired by enlightened thoughts, takes a lead in ending her misery. The desperate maid is forced into action as the men of England have been chained while asleep. Geoffrey M. Matthews (1957, 209) argues that sleep in Shelley could refer to "an era of bondage or of apathy in the face of social injustice”. In my opinion, it even goes beyond apathy. It is an “adoring multitude” (l.41) which leads Holmes (2005, 534) to the interpretation that “Anarchy, a savage god outside any human law, is already the idol of the government’s train; he could easily become the leader of the people’s too”. It is male passivity and the fact that men apparently are tyrants themselves that call the maid into action. This clearly reflects Wollstonecraft’s call for women to reform themselves and “effect a revolution in female manners”[45]. Like The Mask, she complains about the lack of male virtue: “where shall we find men who will stand forth to assert the rights of man; or claim the privilege of moral beings”[46]. According to Brown (1979, 189), Wollstonecraft is convinced that “women must do it themselves”. Claudia L. Johnson (1995, 31) however argues:

The strategy of the Rights of Woman is to rouse men to claim the liberties of their sex, and to convince them to invite women to share those liberties, for manly men, she hopes […] would scorn to have women on other terms.

In my opinion, Wollstonecraft clearly realizes that the road to female emancipation has to be a joint effort of the sexes, and this idea is undoubtedly embedded in The Mask. As described above, the maniac maid takes matters into her own hands. However, as of stanza 39, the poem does exactly what Johnson describes as the main strategy of VRW: a female voice rouses men to fight for their rights and secretly hopes that they will realize that women are entitled to the same rights. It is in line 138 that a voice arises “As if their own indignant Earth” (l.139) cried aloud. The personification of earth as female introduces a next female activist. She rises up out of “A rushing light of clouds and splendour” (l.135) which in itself is a consequence of the maid’s action. The inextricable bond between these two female figures collapses them into one female collective[47] ; it are women, the mothers “Which gave the sons of England birth” (l.140), who are given a public voice and who call upon men to rise from their slumber and join the fight for freedom. In her fifty-five-stanza address to the men of England, the female voice describes the misery that has befallen men and inspires them to demand material and intellectual freedom. While she exposes the oppressing mechanisms of a monarchical society, she does not fail to reveal that women are the victims of the same mechanisms: “‘Tis to see the Tyrant’s crew / Ride over your wives and you--” (l.190-91). Especially stanza 46 hints at the parallel that Wollstonecraft sees between the exploitation of the poor and the subordination of women[48].

‘Tis to be a slave in soul

And to hold no strong control

Over your own wills, but be

All that others make of ye.

Like The Mask’s men are at the mercy of the ruling élite, so are 19th century women – forced to surrender themselves and their personal desires – at the mercy of the men in their life; ”their highest praise is to obey, unargued”[49].

In aligning her misery to that of men, the female speaker invites them to become “Hopes of her, and one another” (l.150). Wollstonecraft pleads: “Let us then, as children of the same parent, […] reason together, and learn to submit to the authority of reason when her voice is distinctly heard”[50]. Likewise, the female voice reinforces the unity between all human beings by calling men “Nurslings of one mighty Mother” (l.149), and she hopes that “Freeman never / Dream that God will damn for ever” (l.234-35). Once the men of England are free, she expects them to share their rights as the blood of tyranny “will not rest on you” (l.339). In case they refuse, “Every woman in the land / Will point at them as they stand--” (l.352-353). As Cross (2004, 193) mentions, women are valorised “as the final judges of men’s actions”. The Mask’s road to female emancipation is clearly a road that both sexes have to walk together[51].

Brown (1979, 180) writes that three of Percy’s major verses, Queen Mab, Prometheus Unbound, and The Revolt of Islam, prophesy “nothing less than woman’s total emancipation […] from centuries of male tyranny”. I am convinced that The Mask commits to the same. A strong, female collective, empowered and inspired by enlightened ideas, revolt against their submission and call upon men to join them. They present a well-reasoned argument for women’s rights.

5. Frankenstein and its Vindication

The fact that Frankenstein incorporates a call for women’s emancipation has been argued by many scholars before. Mellor (1988, 122) calls Frankenstein a “feminist novel”, and James P. Davis (1992, 319) argues that “Shelley’s debt to her mother for ideas and even phrasing are self-evident”. Most critics find evidence for the book’s feminist undertone in its conventional portrayal of men and women. On the one hand, critics refer to the minimal attention that is given to female characters. Women are described in little detail. They have no voice and are slavishly dependent on men. They have no access to education and their experiences are limited to “trifling occupations” (66) in the house. On the other hand, men are described in great detail. They have strong voices, have access to education, and their lives and careers definitely take place outside the house. In short, the women and men in Frankenstein seem to be the perfect embodiment of prevailing gender norms. Although some women certainly display a discrete, subversive undertone, they are admired by men mainly for what Wollstonecraft calls “the soft phrases, susceptibility of heart, delicacy of sentiment, and refinement of taste”, qualities she categorises as “epithets of weakness”[52]. For many scholars, it is the novel’s spiral of violence that constitutes a critique of 19th century gender relations. For example, Mellor (1988, 115) writes that Frankenstein “portrays the consequences of a social construction of gender which values men over women”. In short, the novel’s revolution is embedded in its explicit compliance to the contemporary gender system and at the same time, in its carefully elaborated, implicit subversion of it. Frankenstein kills stereotypes; the ideal woman is of no use to society anymore.

5.1. The Female Creature

Although I fully agree that the novel’s conventional portrayal of women and men in combination with its grotesque violence contains an important feminist message, it is my opinion that it is the creature himself who forms the heart of feminist critique in Frankenstein and who most deeply embodies.


[1] Wuthnow, 1993, 3.

[2] http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/finch/1903/fa-introduction.html>.

[3] Mendelson & Crawford, 1998, 34.

[4] Teague and De Haas (249) mention that “Eve’s weakness is revisited on the head of every woman” (Teague, Frances, & De Haas, Rebecca. “Defences of Women.” A companion to early modern women's writing. Ed. Anita Pacheco. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 2002: 248-263). The fact that many 19th century female writers still tried to re-interpret traditional readings of the Bible shows that this image was still very much alive. For example, Gilbert & Gubar (1984, 218 ff.) argue that Frankenstein rewrites Milton’s Paradise Lost and his Eve women, and in 1847, the French writer Marie D’Agoult felt compelled to rewrite the Christian creation story (Walton, Whitney. Eve's Proud Descendants: Four Women Writers and Republican Politics in Nineteenth-Century France. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000: 1).

[5] The anonymous The Laws Respecting Women (1777) mentions: “By marriage the very being or legal existence of a woman is suspended; or at least it is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband; under whose wing, protection and cover, she performs every thing […]” <http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.rsmctf;view=1up;seq=95>. 14.11.2014. Ch.5, 65.

[6] Quoted in Lange, 1991, 98.

[7] See for example Gatens, 1991, 119.

[8] Gatens (1991, 116) points out that even the radical milieu of which Wollstonecraft was a part was not inclined to extend the debate on the rights of men to those of women.

[9] Quoted in Lange, 1991, 101.

[10] Lange, 1991, 97.

[11] Quoted in Lange, 1991, 101.

[12] Gilbert & Gubar, 1984, 23.

[13] Gilbert & Gubar, 1984, 34.

[14] VRW, 8.

[15] VRW, 28.

[16] VRW, 52.

[17] VRW, 63.

[18] VRW, 11.

[19] VRW, 11. Gatens (1991, 120) remarks that Wollstonecraft “shifts the cause of women’s weaker reason from the female body to the social environment, in particular to educational practices”.

[20] VRW, 96.

[21] VRW, 71.

[22] VRW, 15.

[23] VRW, 117. In VRW, Wollstonecraft argues against, among others, Rousseau and Burke. She clearly recognises their influence on contemporary society. de Freitas Boe (2011, 361-362) notices that Wollstonecraft worried that her “wider culture took its cues from Burke’s aesthetics in valuing women for the outsides of their bodies and not the insides of their minds”.

[24] VRW, 33.

[25] VRW, 57.

[26] VRW, 94. As Gatens (1991, 116) points out, it is important to remember that VRW is dedicated to Charles Talleyrand. Wollstonecraft wanted to convince him to extend his call for free national education for boys to girls.

[27] VRW, 7.

[28] VRW, 22. Among others, Gatens (1991, 120ff.) explains how Wollstonecraft strongly interlinked reason, private virtue and public virtue. According to Alan Richardson (25), Wollstonecraft was convinced that “education would at least do something to form rational and virtuous moral subjects who could then, in turn, help set a better social tone and establish more progressive social institutions” (Richardson, Alan. “Mary Wollstonecraft on Education.” The Cambridge Companion to Mary Wollstonecraft. Ed. Claudia L. Johnson. Cambridge: CUP, 2002: 24-41).

[29] VRW, 34.

[30] Gilbert & Gubar, 1984, 31.

[31] Cross, 2004, 190.

[32] Many scholars have claimed that Percy struggled with forces and vicious circles of violence. For example, Paley (1991, 102) writes that “[Shelley] hoped revolution would come; he feared it would come violently”. Percy himself wrote: "So dear is power that the tyrants themselves neither then, nor now, nor ever, left or leave a path to freedom but through their own blood” (Shelley, Percy B. A Philosophical View of Reform [1820]. <https://archive.org/details/philosophicalvie00shelrich>. 13.05.2015. p.5).

[33] Franta, 2001, 780.

[34] Franta (2001, 780) mentions that critics have failed to see that “the poem does not chart a course of action for the future but provides an account of Peterloo itself”.

[35] VRW, 76.

[36] VRW, 68.

[37] Elisabeth Coleridge quoted in Gilbert & Gubar, 1984, 15-16, l.21.

[38] Ibid, l.24.

[39] Ibid, l.26.

[40] Gilbert & Gubar, 1984, 82.

[41] VRW, 46.

[42] Bieri, 2005, 155.

[43] Quoted in Paley, 1991, 100.

[44] See, among others, Goslee, 2011, 110.

[45] VRW, 57.

[46] VRW, 57.

[47] Also Goslee (2011, 111) considers Hope as a strong candidate for the female voice that arises.

[48] For example, Mackenzie (1993, 43) writes that according to Wollstonecraft, it are “the principles of social utility that justify among other things, the subordination of women and the exploitation of the poor”.

[49] VRW, 143.

[50] VRW, 123.

[51] According to Brown (1979, 185), Percy likewise realised that: “Not until it becomes a reality in the minds and hearts of the vast majority of humankind can it be anything but a tantalizing dream, one of those “beautiful idealisms of moral excellence” to the propagation of which poetry is dedicated”.

[52] VRW, 13.

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"The Mask of Anarchy" and "Frankenstein". A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Free University of Berlin  (Institute of English Language and Literature)
Romanticism and Revolution: The Shelley Circle.
1,0 ("sehr gut")
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"[...] especially the section on The Mask of Anarchy was very original and really brought something new to Percy Shelley scholarship."
Frankenstein, Shelley, The Mask of Anarchy, Percy, Wollstonecraft, Women's Rights, Mathilda
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Katya Schodts (Author), 2015, "The Mask of Anarchy" and "Frankenstein". A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/310818


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Title: "The Mask of Anarchy" and "Frankenstein". A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

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