in aiming to accomplish them

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Senior Member
Hi there,

"If then it can be fairly deduced from the present conduct of the sex, from the prevalent fondness for pleasure, which takes place of ambition and those nobler passions that open and enlarge the soul; that the instruction which women have received has only tended, with the constitution of civil society, to render them insignificant objects of desire; mere propagators of fools! if it can be proved, that in aiming to accomplish them, without cultivating their understandings, they are taken out of their sphere of duties, and made ridiculous and useless when the short lived bloom of beauty is over, I presume that RATIONAL men will excuse me for endeavouring to persuade them to become more masculine and respectable." (A Vindication of the Rights of Woman #2 in our series by Mary Wollstonecraft)

What does "them" refer to?


  • Pertinax

    Senior Member
    It refers to "women": in aiming to complete their upbringing

    OED "accomplish":

    3 b. transitive Esp. of learning or manners: to perfect or complete (a person); to make accomplished (in or for a task or activity). Now rare.

    1863 These qualities adorn the character of Portia, and these go to accomplish a perfect woman.
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