Wollstonecraft speaks towards more of an Enlightenment argument than a Romantic one in this selection. Her and her female colleagues often warned their readers of the dangers of romanticizing reality, especially in the subject of men romanticizing women into objects of fantasy rather than actual people. She states her desire for a logical and focused argument when she says “Consider, Sir, dispassionately, these observations” (Damrosch 289). By including the words “dispassionately” and “observations” so quickly into her argument, Wollstonecraft prescribes a tossing away of the male imagination and fantasy, which women of this time period often criticized of “flatter[ing] women into subjection” (288). We also find support for Enlightenment ideals in the lines, “the more understanding women acquire, the more they will be attached to their duty- comprehending it – for unless they comprehend it, unless their morals be fixed on the same immutable principle as those of man, no authority can make them discharge it in a virtuous manner” (289). This clearly outlines the fact that Wollstonecraft’s argument is not one of emotion, but of reason. In these lines, she states that women should be taught the same education as men so that they will hold the same value in society as men and, therefore, that their value to society is what will give them true virtue. This upholds the Enlightenment ideals of the being as an economic value and salvation through work and intellect.
Although she refutes the “reason” men had been using to justify the oppression of women, she doesn’t necessarily attack it with emotion, as a Romantic would. She uses her own, modern reasoning as her fight against the traditional reason, saying, “Who made man the exclusive judge, if woman partake with him the gift of reason?” She goes on to say, in chapter one, that the problem lies not in reason, but rather in how reason is being used. It is perhaps best explained in the last lines of that chapter, where she says, “Society, therefore, as it becomes more enlightened, should be very careful not to establish bodies of men who must necessarily be made foolish or vicious by the very constitution of their profession.” Here, she is not advocating a Romantic retreat inward, but is calling for men to be able to have more control over their own morality, as this will help end the spread of misogyny within the intellectual sphere.
She enacts a voice of sarcasm when she says, “My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces” and goes on to say that frailty and susceptibility of the heart will lead to weakness and contempt. She uses the same kind of exaggeration Burke incorporates to lead to her attack on his own work, saying, “I shall not waste my time in rounding periods.” This is clearly setting up her argument to be posed somewhat against the Romantic way of writing and thinking.