Women in the Romance Era Most Romantics believed in love, freedom, respect for nature, and equality for all. The majority of these writers believed in freedom for slaves, but what about women? It seems that if we go by what we know about the Romantics that the automatic answer to this question is yes. However, it was not always so. The notions of equality for women and the submission of women can be seen in William Blake’s, Visions of the Daughters of Albion and William Wordsworth’s, The Solitary Reaper. Mary Shelly’s novel, Frankenstein, plays a part in the romantic period.
Mary is the daughter of liberal and feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft, and political philosopher, William Godwin. Mary’s mother died when she was only eleven days old, so her father raised her and her half sister. Around the age of nineteen, Mary writes a short story to entertain Lord Byron in a cottage in Switzerland. Though the encouragement of her husband, Percy Shelly, she creates the novel, Frankenstein. In her years of authoring, however, and many believe that Mary’s novels were not of her own mind but of the mind of Percy Shelly.
Edward Trelawney’s Records of Shelley, Byron, and the Author (1878) praised Percy Shelley at the expense of Mary, questioning her intelligence and even her authorship of Frankenstein. Mary Wollstonecraft is the mother of Mary Shelly, and one of the most famous radical liberal feminists of her time. Mary Wollstonecraft worked as a schoolteacher and headmistress at a school she established at Newington Green with her sister Eliza. The sisters soon became convinced that the young women they tried to teach had already been effectively confined by their social training in subordination to men.
In one of her books, Wollstonecraft criticizes Enlightenment ideals on education for women. The ideals were that women’s rational natures are no less capable of intellectual achievement than are those of men. But through the adversity, she manages to write the novel, A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790). The novel is a vigorous justification of the ideals of the French Revolution, through which she becomes famous for over night. Another popular author of the Romanism Era, is Anna Barbauld. Barbauld had a successful writing career at a time when female professional writers were rare.
She was a well-known teacher at the Palgrave Academy and inventive children’s write. Her primer provided a model for pedagogy for more than a century. During the course of her lifetime, her essays demonstrate that it was possible for a woman to be publicly engaged in politics, and other women authors emulated her. She publishes Poems after receiving praise from her friends and was convinced into doing it. Barbauld turns from school teacher into a respected literary figure in England on the reputation of Poems alone.
The same year she and her brother, John Aikin, jointly published Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose, which was also well-received. All these women defied what society expected them to be and became the greatest thinkers and writers of the Romanticism Era. All these women sought to be educated and to educate others though politics. Women were stilled looked down upon in the 1880’s as being intellectually inferior. These women are heroes and impart a legacy in which many women today follow.
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