Woman's Pain, Woman's Pleasure

Author: Senaha, Eijun
Defining pain and pleasure as synonyms to describe woman's condition in nineteenth-century England, this study closely examines poems by both well and lesser-known poets as representatives. The study asserts that women, in both Romantic and Victorian poems, tend to seek pleasure as their remedy for physical as well as mental pain in their caged environment. Along with references to Mary Wollstonecraft, Caroline Norton, Florence Nightingale, and John Stuart Mill, the comprehensive discussion includes William Blake, Sara Coleridge, Lady Caroline Lamb, Maria Logan, Henrietta O'Neill, Anna Seward, Isabella Lickbarrow, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, and Christina Rossetti. Several critical methods, such as source as well as biographical studies, the Foucauldian interpretation of social history, and Freudian analysis of individual symbols and imageries are applied to throw light on woman's culture in 19th-century Britain.


"Senaha's analysis of individual poems is bold and fearless - but ultimately very convincing. This book is a fascinating study of the representations of feminist resistance against the oppressive patriarchy of the late 18th and 19th centuries in Great Britain. . . a new and valuable contribution that shows how extensive the use of opium was not just among male Romantic writers, but amongst women poets of the period as well. We all learn from Senaha's lucid and perceptive analysis here. Senaha is always reliable in providing an analysis of both texts and contexts: . . . he introduces some new and overlooked Romantic women poets and their opium poems. . . . illuminates one area of 19th century women's culture that has been largely ignored by other critics." - W. B. Thesing,

"Through bold readings of a series of poems from Blake's 'A Sick Rose' to Rossetti's 'Goblin Market', Eijun Senaha tracks a 19th-century history of British women's responses to and representations of their political and social condition. Sometimes seeking the anodyne of a pleasure that became punitive (Senaha's reading of a set of poems by women about opium is especially suggestive), and sometimes courting a pain that promised redemption ('Goblin Market'), the women in the poems scrutinized in this provocative study are understood as part of a political as well as a literary history of 19th-century British writing." - Donald Gray