Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Women Trapped Cont.

I thought that today's readings were a good follow-up to Nathaniel's post from last week for several reasons. In particular, the idea of the arrogance of men really caught my attention in Browning's "Porphyria's Lover." When I read it, I really noticed the enormous lack of empathy from the narrator. His total disengagement and lack of humanity was so petrifying, and this tone might reflect some commentary on men in society. His attitude toward Porphyria lacks any sense of chivalry, compassion or emotion. Indeed, at the end of the poem, the narrator is even arrogant toward God in his snide remark that "God has not said a word." It seems that these romantic poems portray hyper-dependent women and utterly senseless men. That's a bad combination.

1 comment:

  1. It's weird to think about that bad combination, especially in light of our "modern", post-feminist movement sensibilities. These poems seem to exaggerate the extreme stereotypes of men and women--the perfect man who can control all things and assert his power over women and the perfect woman who is more perfect when she is inactive (or dead). It seems like our modern culture has shifted to the exact opposite viewpoint--there is no perfect man or perfect woman because gender boundaries have become so blurred. I think that questions like, "Should I let him open the door to me or should I do it myself and assert my independence?" stem from the stereotypes presented in this poem. Today, women seem hyper-sensitive to seeming too dependent on men and reject any semblance of that fact. In a 21st century poem, instead of Porphyria's lover killing her, we'd have Porphyria killing her lover and everyone laughing about it (My budding parody paper, perhaps?). Strong, competent women dominating bumbling, silly men (any sit com on TV, anyone?). I'd argue, however, that as trapped as women were in the 19th century by the stereotypes and ways they were written into literature and painted into art, women are still trapped today because they haven't yet figured out what it is to be "woman" and be okay with that.

    And now this comment has gotten way too long. =)