Romantic Androgyny: The Women Within

Diane Hoeveler, Marquette University

Diane L. Hoeveler. Romantic Androgyny: The Women Within. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1990. Permalink. © 1990 Pennsylvania State University Press.


Romantic Androgyny is the first study to systematically apply the currents of French and Anglo-American feminist literary criticism to an analysis of the major poetry of the Romantic period. Diane Hoeveler argues that Romantic male poets self-consciously employed the feminine as "Other" and as an alternative source of value in order to engage in a fictional completion of their own psyches. Furthermore, a large proportion of the "women" in the poetry of the major Romantics cannot be understood apart from this radical metaphoric tradition of literary absorption.

Because of the power of the feminine as "Other," women in English Romantic poetry have been on the one hand idealized and on the other denigrated by critics in the field. Hoeveler attempts to correct the flaws of both views by placing the various images of women into a psychoanalytical and historical framework. All six canonical poets participated in one of their culture's dominant ideological fantasies that imaginative creativity was possible for males only if they absorbed the feminine principle and thus became androgynous. Romantic Androgyny argues that the images of the symbolic woman were determined by the poets' adherence to the ideologies of both androgyny and the Eternal Feminine that permeated late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century England.