The importance of gender in understanding Romanticism

Essay, 2013

12 Pages, Grade: 2,0


During the last decades feminist literary criticism has increased and also looks back on the past of literary of Romanticism. “The first stage in the feminist consideration was a sustained critique of the ways in which women where represented in poetry of the male Romantic poets in tandem with a consideration of why it was that there were so few women in the canon itself.” (Janowitz, Preface) Regarding this, the question of the importance of gender in understanding Romanticism in general comes up. What kind of role did women play during Romanticism, what did they mean within romantic poetic and who were those few female romantic writer, who did not only write poems but also novels, prose and polemics? “Feminist literary criticism has been a crucial force of the development of what we now more broadly call ‘gender studies’”. (Janowirt, Preface) The present essay is to elaborate the feminist literary criticism and clarify the question about the importance of gender in understanding Romanticism. To do so, I will focus, on Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth, with a special regard on her prose text Belinda, as well as on the works and the relationship of the Wordsworth’s siblings, and especially the feminine as representation in texts written by William. During the Romantic era, which duration was from 1785, starting quite accurate with Wordworth’s ‘ Lyrik Ballads’, to 1832, emotion, feeling, original creation, obsession with nature, and the individual settled in all the art, including writing. The rebellion against the rational took place and also the influence of the French Revolution and the beginning Industrial Revolution lefts their marks. The style of language and topics of writing such as poetry changed: “poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from the emotion recollected in tranquillity”. (preface Lyrical Ballads) William Wordsworth “regarded literature primary as the author’s expression of his/her emotions and imagination, and in turn read literatures as an image of the author’s personality.” (Meyer 6) This means that every poet, since expressing his or her own thoughts and personality, has in a way to create his or her own style. Fixed rules and standards were more or less in the way of one’s tries to show one’s inner self. While all literature is expressive in the restricted sense that it must have been experienced in the author’s mind before it is written down on paper, the question is whether the search for the author’s expression finds or rather constructs the personality that it assumed to be behind the text. The Romantic Era was a time of change and has nothing to do with the conception of ‘romance’ which one imagines today.


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The importance of gender in understanding Romanticism
National University of Ireland, Galway
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Melissa Grönebaum (Author), 2013, The importance of gender in understanding Romanticism, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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