The 'Natural' Feminine in Romanticism: A Commentary Essay

The 'Natural' Feminine in Romanticism: A Commentary Essay

Length: 1604 words (4.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

After Bethany and Sarah's presentation, "Nature as Woman," I was interested and confused - as were they, I think - by the multiplicity of contradicting views of nature as it relates to gender. According to dominant views on Romanticism, access to nature required a distinctly feminine perspective. Paradoxically, this feminine perspective, entitled ycleped 'sensibility' was to be taken utilized most effectively by men, yet it rested on 'feminine' "emotion [as] … a more pure response to nature" (Fay 5). According to G.J. Barker-Benfield's The Culture of Sensibility "the sentimentalizing process" involved the temperance of a certain 'manliness' that is "uncouth and savage" (288) unless moderated by a feminine influence, thus woman was to use the so-called 'natural' gifts of her sex to lend culture to her more robust and virile counterpart. On first glance, this moderation of 'manly' characteristics appears to lend legitimacy to 'feminine' ideals; however, this apparent liberation of the feminine illuminates two very serious problems. First, as Barker-Benfield points out, 'feminine' ideals are privileged, but only as they serve to improve upon man; woman is not idealised in her own right. In this service of a masculine purpose "woman was to be 'fashioned' by men rather than by herself" (288). Second, the seemingly legitimisation of 'feminine' ideals can appear progressive but, as a result, ultimately serves to authenticate an idea of 'natural femininity that is, in the opinion of many a feminist, a repressive patriarchal social construct that lacks any real biological referent.

Thus it is very fitting, - but not the least bit subtle - that this artificial idea of femininity should be directly applied to Nature herself. If, as Betha...


... middle of paper ...


...constantly striving and failing to solidify and naturalize its gender assumptions. In the end, gender and patriarchy itself are proven unstable and fundamentally paranoid.

Works Cited


Bethany and Sarah. "Nature Being Represented as Woman." Romantic Travellers. 10 Feb. 2005. David S. Miall. 18 Feb. 2005. http://www.ualberta.ca/~dmiall/Travel/index.htm

Fay, Elizabeth A. A Feminist Introduction to Romanticism. Malden: Blackwell, 1998.

Privett, Anne. "Appropriating Nature: Gilpin, the picturesque and Landscape Gardenting." Appropriating Nature: A Presentation for English 409. 10 Feb. 2005. Khaghan Parker, Anne Privett and Luke Ingberg. 18 Feb, 2005 2006. http://members.shaw.ca/weaters/index.htm

Mulvey, Laura. "Visual Pleasure in Narrative Cinema." Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden and Oxford: Blackwell, 1998.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Literary evolution: Differentiating Romanticism and Modernist Literature

- The idea of what literatures function is in shaping society saw a huge change throughout the years, each one of these periods can easily be separated by what literature was used for in each specific era and the ideas that are represented in the literature of these years. The two periods I would like to analyze are romanticism and modernism, namely for the dramatic change in both the form and the use of literature, along with its value to society. Between the romantic and modernist era of literature, writing went from a complex expression of ideals and evocation of emotion to a much less explicit and much more of a social commentary meant to convey unique and new ideas and bring a much dif...   [tags: Social Commentary, Change Through Emotion]

Powerful Essays
1092 words (3.1 pages)

Essay about Aspects of Romanticism

- Nature, imagery, and the freedom of thought and expression are key elements of Romanticism as characterized in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, William Wordsworth “We are Seven,” and Percy Shelley’s “Mutability.” These literary works of Jane Austen, Percy Shelley, and William Wordsworth focus on emphasizing their feelings and emotions by using their imagination and their love of nature as key tools for helping readers to comprehend their personal experiences. Each of their works reflects situations that occur in daily life and serves as an approach to help readers gain an understanding of the human mind....   [tags: Romanticism Essays]

Powerful Essays
1404 words (4 pages)

Essay on European Romanticism

- Romanticism was a movement in art and literature that started in the late 18th century and continued throughout the 19th century in Europe and America. The movement rebelled against classicism. The basic idea in Romanticism is that reason cannot explain everything. This in contrast to the Age of Enlightenment, which focused more on scientific and rational thinking, Romantics searched for deeper appeals, emotional directness of personal experience and visionary relationship to imagination and aspiration....   [tags: Romanticism Essays]

Powerful Essays
827 words (2.4 pages)

Essay on British Romanticism

- Even today, man finds himself asking, "What is beautiful?" Many would point to nature when prompted with such a question; however, few realize that a similar question was posed and a similar answer given back in Romantic Great Britain, but to a whole new degree. British Romanticism was a reaction against technology as well as a cry to turn back to the beauty of nature, and its advocating troops held no more than a pen and paper in hand (Lorcher). Authors of the Romantic era used literature to open the eyes of a society bogged down by the chaos and clutter of everyday life, and the ideas that they promoted still affect man to this very day....   [tags: Romanticism Essays]

Powerful Essays
1840 words (5.3 pages)

Modernity and Romanticism Essay

- Modernity and Romanticism Question 6: Select one or more thinkers and/or writers associated with Romanticism and explain how they understand the relationship between the self and the world. Selection: Charles Darwin CHARLES DARWIN Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882), British scientist and naturalist, has undoubtedly made a vast impact on humanity during the Romanticism period until today. Darwin was the precursory figure perhaps most responsible for altering humanity’s view of nature and human nature, over the past two centuries....   [tags: Romanticism Essays]

Powerful Essays
1029 words (2.9 pages)

Romanticism in Music Essay

- Romanticism in Music Romantic: of, characterized by, or suggestive of an idealised, sentimental, or fantastic view of reality… concerned more with feeling and emotion than with form and aesthetic qualities. The Concise Oxford Dictionary, Eighth edition, 1991. The term romantic first appeared at sometime during the latter half of the 18th Century, meaning in quite literal English, "romance-like", usually referring to the character of mythical medieval romances. The first significant jump was in literature, where writing became far more reliant on imagination and the freedom of thought and expression, in around 1750....   [tags: Romanticism Essays]

Powerful Essays
1610 words (4.6 pages)

Essay on Romanticism

- Romanticism Romanticism began in the mid-18th century and reached its height in the 19th century. It was limited to Europe and America although different compatriots donated to its birth and popularity. Romanticism as a movement declined in the late 19th century and early 20th century with the growing dominance of Realism in the arts and the rapid advancement of science and technology. However, Romanticism was very impressionative on most individuals during its time. This was because it was expressed in three main aspects of life: literature, art, and music....   [tags: Romanticism Essays]

Powerful Essays
507 words (1.4 pages)

Romanticism Essay

- Romanticism Romanticism is a movement in the arts that flourished in Europe and America throughout much of the 19th century from the period of the French revolution in 1789. Romantic artists’ glorified nature, idealized the past, and celebrated the divinity of creation. There is a fundamental emphasis on freedom of self expression, sincerity, spontaneity and originality. The movement rebelled against classicism, and artists turned to sources of inspiration for subject matter and artistic style....   [tags: Romanticism Essays]

Powerful Essays
1506 words (4.3 pages)

Romanticism Essays

- Romanticism “ Bells bells bells bells bells bells bells” this quote from Edgar Allen Poes’ The Bells, is one poem that had great influence on early 19th century literature. During the early 1800’s , writers Poe, Irving, and Cooper display characteristics of Romantic writers. Cooper diplays characters with honest expression to their feelings. This appeal to emotion rather then reason is one characteristic of Romanticism. “Deerslayer raised the Indian in his arms, and carried him to the lake…..and took the head of his wounded adversary in his own lap, and endeavored to sooth his anguish in the best manner he could”....   [tags: Romanticism Essays]

Free Essays
596 words (1.7 pages)

Romanticism Essay

- Romanticism When we think of romance or romantic we often associate the term with love. People talk about how they want their significant others to be more ‘romantic’. But what does the term ‘romantic’ really mean. Does it mean giving flowers, spending an evening alone by candlelight, bringing home extravagant gifts, or reciting beautiful poetry. Within today’s society it can mean any one of those things and many more. But in the late eighteenth, early nineteenth century (1780-1830)Romance was considered something different altogether....   [tags: Romanticism Essays]

Powerful Essays
669 words (1.9 pages)