Motherhood in Mary Wollstonecraft's
The Wrongs of Woman
S. Leigh Matthews
Addressing these memoirs to you, my child, uncertain whether I
shall ever have an opportunity of instructing you, many observa-
tions will probably flow from my heart, which only a mother—a
mother schooled in misery, could make.
—Maria in The Wrongs of Woman
In her study Bearing the Word: Language and Female Experience in Nineteenth-Century Women's Writing, Margaret Homans notes that Western culture maintains a “dominant myth of language according to which women's experiences are unrepresentable” (xi), a myth in which women are “identified with the literal, the absent referent” of the “figurative structures of literature” (4). In a “predominantly androcentric culture” in which language and acts of representation are “constructed in this way,” women writers struggle to represent the literal experiences of their lives, to engage in the system of language of their culture while aiming to inscribe a different point of view. Homans goes on to note that feminist reinterpretations of the “dominant myth of language” and the knowledge that “the Lacanian view of language is not a universal truth, but the psycho linguistic retelling of a myth to which our culture has long subscribed” (5–6)
Notes are on pp. 95–97.