Empire of Trees

Wollstonecraft may have overlooked the ingenious nature Barbauld’s prose. However, she did glean something key in the manner in which way Barbauld addresses interrelated questions about gender and empire. It is possible that this view is even unconscious on Barbauld’s part. Barbauld is essentially playing the satirical “role” and speaking in the fashion of her male counterparts. Instead of fighting against the traditional chauvinistic ideas about the flaws of womanhood she portrays them as strengths. The Flower itself in her poem is “painted” in that it is artificial and not the “real” embodiment of womanhood. When she states, Flowers SWEET, and gay, and delicate like you;/ Emblems of innocence, and beauty too” p(g 53) one can detect the sarcasm in her tone.  I feel that Wollstonecraft was just peeved at the slightest mention of these traits in any context. Her impulse over rid her ability to analytically process the tone’s function.  In the poem Barbauld likens the institution of fraternity to the empires man that kept men themselves under tyranny. The empire in this case can be perceived as Roman and French, but especially Britain. She suggests that perhaps their “sweetest empire” is nonetheless tyranny which infers that she believes women should have equal rights.

In the poem 1811 she maintains that the more than men that the nations of the world were like women. She gives them womanly equalities referring to, “London Art bestows/ Her summer ices and her winter rose” (54) However what does this really signify? Even though Barbauld is painting the empires as womanly and in doing so showing their worth to the men who don’t discern woman as having equal worth, there is a tradeoff. Because are not these empires that are corrupt and fallen. Perhaps Wollstonecraft saw that in giving the empires the stereotypical traits of women it could be inferred that the reason the empires were weak was because women were also weak in character. It is easy to see where intent could be met with confusion. Especially when Baubauld seems to marvel as, “the tougher yew repels invading foes” (53), in my opinion, this is just conciliatory and for fun. Wollstonecraft, who was very serious about the cause would not have seen the humor.


~ by bobcat101 on September 27, 2012.

2 Responses to “Empire of Trees”

  1. The emotional aspects of Wollstonecraft is much like Blake. Additionally, Barbauld’s love of fraternity is similar to Blake’s admiration for empires. Although Blake’s perceptions linger on the insane or alternative to mainstream culture, he is much like the previous authors we have read in that he dwells on the workings of the imagination in contrast to the human soul. Blake has much to offer to the foundation of evolution and drastic human changes. One can see these similar concepts in the previous works we have read, such as found in the thoughts of Barbauld and Wollstonecraft.

  2. This rendition or arrangement of thoughts in consideration of Wollstonecraft is similar to Blake’s perception of the empire and individualism. Blake’s perception is of the notion that individuals are connected and there are drastic elements to the human mind that warrant the falls of empires. Wollstonecraft, as you have noted, was very emotional and wrote accordingly. Barbauld, much like Wollstonecraft, speaks of romanticism as intimacy and introvertedness, like the idea of someone waking up on a winter day. This invigorating perception resonates with the human mind.

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