Thursday, June 19, 2008


The Princess

In 1847 Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote The Princess along with several other prolific writings, such as The Brook, The Lady of Shallott, Idylls of the King, and In Memoriam. I believe after reading several of these poems that Tennyson described the gender roles which has been handed down through time.
In The Princess Tennyson wrote
“Man for the field and women for the hearth:
Man for the sword and for the needle she:
Man with the head and woman with the heart:
Man to command and woman to obey:
All else confusion.”
I believe that he makes it clear what the roles of men and women are very clear. Men are to work in the field to provide for the women to cook in the house over the fire. Men are to fight and defend while the women are to mend, both wounds and the clothing. Men are the chief authority figure, and the strong ones of the house, government or the leaders while women are the back bone of the household and show the children the compassion. I believe the final simply says that anything other than what was written is simply wrong and will not work.
I think in The Princess that Tennyson defines the biological differences between men and women. I think that Tennyson believes that the world must have males and females working together to make each part work. While Tennyson believed that one sex could not prosper with out the other sex, he believes that men and women have both the same morals, imagination, spiritual beliefs, and intellect. Without reading the rest of The Princess, one would not think this.
I believe that Tennyson wrote these works to empower women so that they could begin starting to get the education they wanted instead of being the person who just cared for the men and their families. I believe he wanted the women to be empowered to be able to get the education and start becoming an equal with the men. Because without a woman, a man was nothing, and vice versa. Tennyson wrote about how this was a different way of thinking when he wrote in The Princess “Such women, but convention beats them down:” This is saying that the conventional way of thinking about women is keeping them in a position that was inferior instead of allowing them to be empowered to do more that be a maiden.

While this was a different belief than what had been in the past where women were not thought of as a part of the family other than to produce children and do what the man said. I believe that in this writing as well as several of his other writings that he believes that in the biblical sense that men and women are designed to be different and separate, based on God taking the rib of Adam and making his mate Eve. But they are to be together as God’s word assures.
While reading The Princess, I felt that Tennyson wanted to maintain an interest in how the developments of his era were changing while remaining a voice, through his writings, for the society that he was hoping to change. I believe that he wanted women to become empowered and through his writings teach others that this needed to happen also.


Jonathan.Glance said...


Good focus on Tennyson, and some good speculation on his view of gender roles and opportunities for women. You repeatedly assert that "The Princess" represents his own views, but that claim is complicated by the fact that the speaker in the poem is a character, not the author; there is also a female character who offers a different perspective. While it is certainly possible that Tennyson believes what his male character days, it is by no means certain. You would need corroborating evidence from other statements by him to support such a strong and unequivocal statement as you make.

Costen said...

I don't agree with your analysis when you say that he wrote this way to empower women. For some reason I simply cannot see the subliminal message put here. Though I do feel that women should have been empowered, I know that in those times, women of power got very little respect. Therefore, even the empowered women would still have been put down and would have been forced to bear harsh criticism from society.