How can you describe the feminism motives in 19th century poetry?
When looking into different themes that I could situate my chosen poetry around, I wanted to choose something that was as relevant in the 19th century as it is now. For me, that is the feminist movement and the equality of males and females within society. The poems I have chosen are; No Thank You, John, by Christina Rossetti, Interview by Dorothy Parker and Differences of Opinion by Wendy Cope. An obvious similarity is that all of these poems are written by women and each speaker within these poems, challenges their male counterparts in a subtle yet powerful way. Rossetti’s No Thank You, John, is a more colloquial, conversational poem between the speaker and a man named John. The speaker has rejected John’s affections, which has not settled well with him. I believe this fits well within my theme of feminist poetry as this poem was written within the Victorian period, 1862 to be specific, and it would be expected of women to be grateful in reception of male affection and attention, rather than responding in a witty and slightly defensive manner, as the speaker of the poem. Interview by Dorothy Parker is a more subtle feminist poem and outlines the way in which ‘ladies’ should act to receive admiration from men. The title of the poem creates a more sinister tone while reading the poem as it makes the reader think that there is a criterion meet to attract this admiration from men. This poem is more of a subtle nod to feminist poetry and encourages the reader to think about the role and expectations of women within society. The final poem I have chosen is the first part of Differences of Opinion by Wendy Cope. Similarly to the first poem, we see a conversation between a man and woman. However, in this poem, the woman tries to stand up for her opinion and what she knows is right. Like the speaker in Rossetti’s poem, the woman is not afraid to tell the man what she thinks despite his conflicting opinion. Yet by the end of the poem, she does succumb to the man as ‘he stands his ground’ although she knows she is right. This still does show feminism as it allows the reader to think about why the woman could not win in this scenario.