By Adriana Craciun
Incarnations of deadly ladies, or femmes fatales, recur through the works of girls writers within the Romantic interval. Adriana Craciun demonstrates how portrayals of femmes fatales performed an immense function within the improvement of Romantic women's poetic identities and affected their exploration of concerns surrounding the physique, sexuality and politics. Craciun covers quite a lot of writers and genres from the 1790s throughout the 1830s and discusses the paintings of such recognized figures as Mary Wollstonecraft, in addition to lesser-known writers like Anne Bannerman. This exam of girls writers' deadly girls in ancient, political and clinical contexts exposes a far-ranging debate on sexual distinction.
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Additional resources for Fatal women of Romanticism
In Bannerman’s remarkable poetry, ﬁgures such as the mermaid, the revenant, and the prophetess emerge as deadly “women” poets whose voices usher in destruction, not creation, and who are directly Fatal Women of Romanticism linked to femmes fatales in the works of Coleridge, Schiller, and Johnson. Letitia Elizabeth Landon’s poetry also challenges the Romantic idealism prevalent amongst male predecessors such as Wordsworth and Keats. Her unexamined numerous fatal women (often supernatural ﬁgures such as mermaids, phantoms, and enchantresses) offer an excellent opportunity to investigate how her critique of Romantic idealism, intimately involved with the poetics and politics of the body, is gendered.
Gilchrist’s account in Mary Lamb, like the account in the Morning Chronicle on which it is based, downplays Mary’s agency as murderer not just by repeatedly emphasizing her “frenzy,” “insanity,” or “nervous misery,” but by eliding the scene of violence itself: seized with a sudden attack of frenzy, she snatched a knife from the table and pursued the young apprentice round the room, and when her mother interposing, received a fatal stab and died instantly. It is Mary who is “seized” by madness, and her mother who interposes and receives a fatal stab – Mary the murderer is nowhere to be found, so that we as readers, perhaps because we desire to, remain as unconscious as Mary is said to have been.
When feminists such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Catherine Macaulay, and Mary Robinson speculated in the s that perhaps, with the right exercise, women could become as physically strong as men, and thus erase that speciﬁc aspect of “natural” difference and inferiority, they were not attempting to render everything the same, to make women masculine. As I demonstrate in chapter , they were in fact historicizing “natural” difference, examining its origins and embodiment in speciﬁc institutions and practices, and suggesting alternatives to the two-sex system which, contrary to prevailing modern assumptions, they did not accept as stable and eternal.