Presentation Title

The Oppression of Women and Mother Nature: An Ecofeminist Reading of Wordsworth's "The Thorn" and "The Ruined Cottage"

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Alison Baker

Start Date

18-11-2017 10:00 AM

End Date

18-11-2017 10:15 AM

Location

15-1828

Session

Humanities 2

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

humanities_letters

Abstract

In Romantic poetry, poets often depict women in a way that makes them subsumed into the natural world. This is deeply established during this era since nature is seen as inherently feminine because both nature and women reproduce new life. However, this concept is challenged in William Wordsworth’s poems, “The Ruined Cottage” and “The Thorn,” where instead of displaying the beauty of Mother Nature and women, Wordsworth touches on the physical deterioration of nature in parallel to the mental deterioration of his two heroines, Margaret and Martha. The two poems present the dichotomy of women representing nature, while men are equated with civilization. The following essay examines Wordsworth’s poems through his descriptions of nature in personifying the emotional states of the two women: as civilization ruins the natural world, men can ruin women and trigger their downfall. I employ an ecofeminist reading of the two poems, showing how the relationship between women and nature is more than just one of shared beauty and motherhood; it is also one of mutual oppression.

Summary of research results to be presented

The purpose of this research is to explore an ecofeminist reading of the two poems and how this reading depicts Mother Nature and women in a perspective that differs from how they are usually represented in Romantic poetry. The results of my research have been gathered by reading through various critics who have analyzed these two poems through an ecofeminist lens. I focus specifically on British Philosopher Kate Soper, who writes up an analogy that supports the dichotomy I focus on in this essay. Her analogy of how woman equals reproduction while production equals culture shows how culture is essential to the definition of civilization because it is only in civilized societies that culture and a certain way of life are developed. In nature, there is no culture because there is no civilization and it seems due to this differentiation that society is unable to understand nature and similarly, men are not able to understand women due to how they are associated with nature. My research concludes that women and nature have many identities, one of which revolves around suffering and misery. Yet it is through this suffering that they refuse to change or conform to society’s cultural norms, which shows how the relationship between nature and women is essentially based off a foundation of fighting against the oppression caused by man and civilization while simultaneously trying to preserve their feminine autonomy.

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Nov 18th, 10:00 AM Nov 18th, 10:15 AM

The Oppression of Women and Mother Nature: An Ecofeminist Reading of Wordsworth's "The Thorn" and "The Ruined Cottage"

15-1828

In Romantic poetry, poets often depict women in a way that makes them subsumed into the natural world. This is deeply established during this era since nature is seen as inherently feminine because both nature and women reproduce new life. However, this concept is challenged in William Wordsworth’s poems, “The Ruined Cottage” and “The Thorn,” where instead of displaying the beauty of Mother Nature and women, Wordsworth touches on the physical deterioration of nature in parallel to the mental deterioration of his two heroines, Margaret and Martha. The two poems present the dichotomy of women representing nature, while men are equated with civilization. The following essay examines Wordsworth’s poems through his descriptions of nature in personifying the emotional states of the two women: as civilization ruins the natural world, men can ruin women and trigger their downfall. I employ an ecofeminist reading of the two poems, showing how the relationship between women and nature is more than just one of shared beauty and motherhood; it is also one of mutual oppression.