Women writers in Romanticism

1226 Words5 Pages
“[T]hroughout the time known as the Romantic period, women were prolific writers and readers of novels, poems, and other kinds of writing” (Susan Matthews). Discuss the qualities of their work in the light of the times. Regarding the historical background in the early times of the Romantic period, women had immense difficulties to pave the way for participating in literature, especially in consideration of being accepted as writers in the same way as men. In these times, women were generally believed to be less intellectual than men and to be only capable of caring for the household, their husband and their children (Becker-Cantarino 2000, p.20). There existed a gender stereotype about how women should behave (Ross 1989, p.3.) and they “were expected to be the religious and moral guides and leaders of men, to whom they were in every way subordinate” (McCalman 2001, p. 43). Since women were expelled from a high education and, as M. Wollstonecraft claimed, were kept in a kind of eternal immaturity (Wollstonecraft cited in Mellor 1993, p. 37.) they did not have the possibilities which men had. Studying meant an opportunity to become more literate, to get to know like-minded people and to establish connections in order to become a professional writer (Becker-Cantarino 2000, pp.29-30). Consequently women were not expected to write and therefore Ross alleges that “romanticism is historically a masculine phenomenon” (2000, p.3). As reason for this statement he accounts that men wrote to verify their competence to affect the world in domains that were generally known as masculine (2000, p.3). Women writers were not taken seriously and male poets thought women could not compete with them (Ross 1989, p. 4). Anyway, women started to write publicly and not less than half of the literature that was published in England between 1780 and 1830 was written by women (Mellor 1993,
Open Document