Yeats Revolutionary Poet Analysis

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“Yeats the revolutionary poet” The work of William Butler Yeats is one of complexity consisting of a range of contradictions reflected in themes such as politics, love, identity, nature and gender. Yeats grew up in an oppressive Ireland where the “woman’s” role in society was tending to the home and looking after the children. However, quite the contrary is often reflected in his poetry as Yeats “was unable to identify with the norms of masculinity dominant in the late nineteenth century” (Cullingford, 13). Although it is acknowledged that certain aspects of Yeats work can be considered reactionary, for the purpose of this essay, the following paper will demonstrate why Yeats should be regarded as a revolutionary poet with a specific focus…show more content…
Here, Yeats attempts to preempt a shift in gender roles and the consequence this may have on cultural norms in society. Yeats presents to his readers “inherited generic norms of love poetry against feminist objections and demands” through the male voice Robartes (Cullingford, 92). Yeats does this through representing a dialogue between the male and his traditional values and the progressive feminist, highlighting their differences in opinion. The poem begins with the Robartes stating that a woman is most “wise” when she is “plain”, and free of any opinion (Albright, 223). The revolutionary aspect of this poem is demonstrated by the woman who questions Robartes saying “May I not put myself to college” (Albright, 223). This is significant as it represents the rise of the female within the poem but also the rise of women in society as a whole while Robartes attempts to confine her role, in line with traditional beliefs. Robartes does this by highlighting the importance of a woman’s body to man and not her mind as no “book” can aid the acquisition of “knowledge” substantially (Albright, 223). Once again Yeats draws our attention to the woman in the poem who continues to defy stereotypical beliefs when saying “my wretched dragon is perplexed” alluding to her views on the importance of women and value of female power in society (Albright, 224). This is symbolic of Yeats as a revolutionary poet as it gives a firm representation of the female voice which would have been unstereotypical of the time. It is clear that Yeats wishes to convey the feelings of unease, representative of the time, felt by Robartes as he attempts once more to squash the woman’s ideologies by referring to the “principles” that “prove” him “right” (Albright, 224). The poem
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