A Vindication of the Rights of Woman seems to be both an Enlightenment and a Romantic argument. Just like the French feminist Valentine de Saint-Point (Manifeste de la femme futuriste, 1912) who answered to a misogynistic author, Wollstonecraft quickly responds to Milton’s Paradise Lost to tell him her thoughts about the conditions of women. Thus, the reflection Wollstonecraft is giving us is both based upon her feelings and her reason.
On one hand, she shows the features of the Enlightenment by basing her on reason and on the role of women in the society, that is to say considered as inferior to men. This is, for her, caused by education since men and women aren’t taught the same things, p.292 “I wish to persuade women to endeavor to acquire strength, both of mind and body, and to convince them that the soft phrases, susceptibility of heat (…) are almost synonymous with epithets of weakness”, p.293 “Women are, in fact, so much degraded by mistaken notions of female excellence”. She clearly shows her feminism and tries to make understand people that this, the different educations given, is not normal. Even if she said that she did this not in a good way, her reflection is presented as something organized and logical. We can see that what she says is made with reason p.288 “arguments conclusive”, the repetition of the word “reason/reasoning” p.293, “because intellect will always govern” same page, “facts”, “I reason” p.298. She also often uses “useless/useful”, consequence of the industriousness. Religion takes a huge place too in this book since there is always a reference to God by saying “Providence”, “God”etc. She ends her chapter 2 talking about Him.
On the other hand, there is also a few features of Romanticism, such as the repetition of “nature/natural” in almost every page which is one of the main characteristics of Romanticism, and “mixing with society” p.297. Her arguments are combined with reason and feelings p.296 “led by their senses”, “the emotions” p.303, “feeling, experience” p.303, “sublime” p.301,303, “love”,”passion” and “desire” are also used to express what she thinks about the woman trying to be perfect for her husband, and describes the feelings as something natural since “To endeavor to reason love out of the world, would be to out Quixote Cervantes” that is to say something impossible. That’s why she tries to make understand women not to be this way anymore (1st paragraph). By basing herself on reasoning, she in fact is responding to something she lived, a direct experience. P.297 we can see a mixture of both the Enlightenment and Romanticism “confidently assert that they (women) have been drawn out of their sphere by false refinement, and not by an endeavor to acquire masculine qualities…it may be impossible to convince them that the illegitimate power, which they obtain, by degrading themselves, is a curse, and that they must return to nature and equality”. Here she clearly says that the education they had is no good, and to find a good place is society they must be heard and connected to Nature.
As a conclusion, we can say that Wollstonecraft combines arguments based on characteristics of both the Enlightenment and Romanticism.