More of a Philosopher: Adeline Mowbray and “Every-Day Nature”
This chapter presents Adeline Mowbray as a sympathetic, but critical, evaluation of the practical implications of Mary Wollstonecraft’s attempt to live according to principles that were opposed by society at large. Writing as a former friend of Wollstonecraft and her husband William Godwin, Opie works to reform the female philosopher by allowing her protagonist, Adeline Mowbray, to recognize her errors and atone for her transgressions through suffering. The process of rehabilitating Adeline, however, ends up destroying her, suggesting that for Opie, there is no way for the Wollstonecraftian female philosopher to be accommodated within society. But through secondary characters, Opie introduces the possibility of an alternate kind of female philosopher: a woman as intelligent, as rational, and as morally concerned as Wollstonecraft, but better able to contribute to progress by understanding the need to accommodate herself to social expectations.