Student Question

How does Mary Wollstonecraft in John Freed's play "Love me, Fuseli" embody a revolutionary and promoter of feminism?

Quick answer:

John Freed’s portrayal of Mary Wollstonecraft in Love me, Fuseli might meet most definitions of feminism and gender equality because she sticks up for herself and doesn’t let Joseph interrupt her.

Expert Answers

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You might identify Mary Wollstonecraft’s revolutionary feminism and zeal for gender equality in the way in which she confronts Joseph Johnson. Remember, Mary works for Joseph. Yet their professional relationship doesn’t obstruct her from speaking her mind. In this sense, Mary is a precursor to contemporary definitions of feminism that encourage women to stand up to powerful men—whether they be bosses, husbands, or otherwise.

You might also argue that the language that Mary uses demonstrates a kind of gender equality. It shows that women can be as blunt, direct, and bawdy as men. However, the derogatory way in which Mary uses “slut” might not square with some contemporary feminists who are trying to reclaim the word “slut” and turn it into a positive.

Another interesting way in which John Freed’s representation of Mary might fit a definition of feminism is the way in which she confronts what has become known “mansplaining.” When Joseph tries to interrupt Mary, Mary doesn’t let him. She asks, “Can I read it to you now without any interruptions?” Her resistance to John’s intrusions could be seen as a reaffirmation of her own competence. By countering John’s disruptions, she is, in a way, telling him that she doesn’t need him to help her communicate her thoughts: she’s quite capable of articulating her ideas and emotions on her own. In other words, she’s demonstrating her capacity to think independently—something that does probably square with most definitions of feminism and gender equality.

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