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Mary Wollstonecraft
Written in 2008
A Vindication of the Rights of Women
Women's choir or vocal trio
3 minutes
Difficulty level: Moderate/student
The text for this piece was taken from the book by Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women first published in 1790, a year after the French Revolution. The words were taken from many different sections of the book, and have been reassembled into a continuous ‘speech’ which I think represents accurately the essence of her her argument.
I must be allowed to explain myself.
It cannot be demonstrated
that woman is essentially inferior
to man.

She has always been subjugated.
Women are not a swarm of ephemeral triflers.
They are supposed to possess
more sensibility,
and even more humanity
than men.

But humanity does not consist in a squeamish ear.
It belongs to the mind
as well as the nerves.
Women's first duty is to themselves
as rational creatures.
But men encourage a weak elegancy of mind
and sweet docility of manners.

In this style argue tyrants of every denomination.
They are all eager to crush reason.
I declare against all power
built on prejudice.

Liberty is the mother of virtue.
Women must be allowed to breathe
the sharp invigorating air
of freedom.
Click below to download the Score (and parts if needed) as PDF files.