Wollstonecraft and Style

Mary Wollstonecraft’s style in Maria, The Wrongs of Woman, is interesting, as seen in the diction and sentence structure. The language is very formal, and it is as if the author is making a declaration to the audience about the particular situation and circumstances in which individuals of her gender have to undergo. It is interesting how the author discusses the difficulties that certain individuals have to undergo. It is similar to how Watts discusses novel writers. Ian Watts is concerned about the style and how writers describe the circumstances, of the form in which a novel occurs. Watts notes the ways in which novel writers describe the circumstances in which their characters undergo, is enough to shed light to readers about the struggles of the characters. For example, Watts notes, “Here, however, we are concerned with a much more limited conception with the extent to which the analogy with philosophical realism helps to isolate and define the distinctive narrative mode of the novel. This, is has been suggested, is the sum of literary techniques whereby the novel’s imitation of human life follows the procedure adopted by philosophical realism in its attempt to ascertain and report the truth” (31). Hence, it is the ways in which novelists describe situations, or the literary techniques that the writers apply which brings the novel to life, or perhaps appears as if the situations are real. Therefore, style is important. Thus, is the way Wollstonecraft describes her characters experiences that is the reason we come to sympathize with her characters. Also, Watts states the importance of the character’s names. For example, he adds “Characters in previous forms of literature, of course, were usually given proper names; but the kind of names actually used showed that the author was not trying to establish his characters as completely individualized entities. The precepts of classical and renaissance criticism agreed with the practice of their literature in preferring either historical names or type names. In either case, the names set the characters in the context of a larger body of expectations primarily formed from the past literature, rather than from the context of contemporary life.” (18-19).
In the introduction, Moira Ferguson recognizes Wollstonecraft as having a “pivotal position in the history of humanist thought (9). She notes that Ferguson notes that individual of her gender in England in the eighteenth century, were denied or were placed in the situation were they had “No money was theirs by right…if they were heiress…and they married, their money automatically transformed to their husbands” (10). Ferguson even notes, “They were denied child custody,” and these individuals were forbidden to separate from their husbands unless extreme circumstances occurred (10). Ferguson also notes that Maria’s house servant, Jemima is an example of how “women from the lowest social class fared even worse” (10). She notes, “though the novel is incomplete, it is clearly articulated and offers a graphic picture of the wrongs done to women” (10). Ferguson adds, “In Maria she depicts in a fictional setting how the denial of all civil and political rights keeps every class of women from true fulfillment in their day-to-day existence” (10).
The diction or word choice that Wollstonecraft uses is interesting. She uses terms such as, “abodes of horror,” “mansion of despair,” and “scattered thoughts” (23). The sentence structure is complex as well, for example, the author writes, “Abodes of horror have frequently been described…conjured up by the magic spell of genius to harrow the soul, and absorb the wondering mind. But, formed of such stuff as dreams are made of, what were they to the mansion of despair, in one corner of which Maria sat, endeavoring to recall her scattered thoughts” (23). The diction, word choice, and the sentence structure are interesting. All these factors depict the complex situation in which Maria finds herself with “scattered thoughts” as fi she is pondering over some distressing thought.
Therefore, I agree with Watts that form plays a significant role in shaping a novel, in which case we are allowed to see through the powerful use of word choice the distressing situation of the characters in the novel

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