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...
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