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What Feminism Meant in the Romantic Era

Updated on January 17, 2017

For the most part, as it is well known, women up through the Romantic era of were not allowed to be quite as educated as men, if at all. The male-dominant societies generally did not believe it was appropriate for women to be a part of the writing and publishing community especially, mostly as this area of career was considered raunchy or vulgar at times concerning particular genres or certain male writers. The overall environment was not suitable for any lady of class born into a good family, was the over-arching concern.

However, women still found it possible to accomplish such talents, albeit on a low-key scale as underdogs, and were still active in the writing and literary field. The subjects and themes of their works differed greatly from the male writers of their time, reflecting that which they would be most concerned about and in tune with as females.

Women are known for their sensitive, emotional, and passionate natures. Although this might seem like stereotyping, these characteristics are seen in numerous poems by both Joanna Baillie and Felicia Hemans. These women were just two of many outstanding female writers of their day. But we will observe them specifically as their writings represent dealings with family, loss of loved ones, the power of love, and the change of seasons and their connection to human trials.

For instance, Joanna Baillie’s poem “The Seasons of Life,” is a symbolic poem for the ups and downs and sporadic changes in the human cycle. But from a woman’s point of view it is interesting since females go through many physical transformations including puberty, loss of "innocence," child birth, menopause, and so on. These examples give new meaning and perspective to this symbolic poem more than any other man could demonstrate.

Furthermore, two powerful and stirring poems by Hemans called “The Child’s First Grief” and “The American Forest Girl” deals with love, the loss of life, and how human nature deals with both as they intertwine in each poem. As a woman, Hemans had the advantage of writing from a feminine perspective of intuitive compassion and understanding—such as, a child’s longing for a dead brother or a young girl’s desire for peace and preservation of life. These are Romantic in trait because they reflect the reality of the human race and its conflict with life and each other.

Each of the female writers mentioned demonstrated works of true Romantic character in that they include imagery of nature and the interaction and well-being of humankind. But because they are women, they were able to create pieces of art that could never be accomplished by a man simply for the reason that mindsets and worldviews are so diverse.

To all female writers: we have a part to play. The point is not to get caught up wanting to compete with the other gender, but rather to embrace what we know we can do superbly.

If you are aware of literary ages and the evolution of writing throughout history, how does this type of feminism voiced in writing compare to our modern society's style and interpretation of it?

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