Question for Mary Wollstonecraft’s “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman”

In Wollstonecraft’s argument against Milton’s depiction of Eve in “Paradise Lost”, she says something along the lines of, the term innocent should be reserved for children and never used to describe adult men and women, as it then manifests as weakness.

“Children, I grant, should be innocent; but when the epithet is applied to men, or women, it is but a civil term for weakness.”

Wollstonecraft , Mary. “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.” Chap. II. Wollstonecraft, Mary. 1792. The Rights of Woman, https://www.bartleby.com/144/2.html.

She also talks about how romanticizing innocence in women is intended to keep them in a childlike state and is used as a means of securing their behavior as something desirable to men.

“Men, indeed, appear to me to act in a very unphilosophical manner when they try to secure the good conduct of women by attempting to keep them always in a state of childhood.”

Wollstonecraft , Mary. “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.” Chap. II. Wollstonecraft, Mary. 1792. The Rights of Woman, https://www.bartleby.com/144/2.html.

It would seem that Mary Wollstonecraft saw Milton’s Eve as a childlike character from this information. But, is there a difference between willful ignorance and innocence? And, is Eve really innocent, and therefore childlike in this story, or is she willfully ignorant because an innocent demeanor is what is expected of her from Adam and God?

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