Elizabeth Butler Cullingford, Gender and History in Yeats’s Love Poetry (Cambridge UP 1993)

‘From a structuralist point of view the identification of the land as female reflects the patriarchal opposition between male Culture and female Nature, which defines women as the passive embodiments of matter. Politically, the land is seen as an object to be possessed, or repossessed: to gender it as female is to confirm and reproduce the social arrangements that construct women as material objects, not speaking subjects. When the myth of the goddess is used by men as a political instrument, it is often scribed to an essential female principle rather than the male imagination that has created or manipulated it. Images of women that originated as the projections of male anxieties and aggression are used to validate the need to control or subordinate the female sex.’

(Quoted in Jarleth Killeen, ‘Woman and Nation Revisited: Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose’, in Aaron Kelly & Alan Gillis, eds., Critical Ireland: New Essays in Literature and Culture, Dublin: Four Courts Press 2001, p.144.)












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