The portrayal of women in literature has traditionally been a point of contention and debate among researchers. As traditionally the published writing sphere has been historically dominated by men, their ability to provide an insight into a woman’s mind is debatable at best. Nevertheless, throughout literary history, numerous female writers have surpassed the restrictive social order of the past to convey their feelings and thoughts on paper. One of these writers is Anne Finch, the poet whose The Introduction and Nocturnal Reverie were covered throughout the course.
Suitable for its title, The Introduction successfully introduces Anne’s inner world as a poet to her readers. Frustrated with the limitations of society, the author points out the uneven perception of male and female art. This is evident from the estimation of the potential critical response to her writing by the critics, “And all might say, they’re by a woman writ”. The poem then proceeds to narrate the daily harshness of expectations and limitations forced onto women by the uneven social order.
This contextual understanding enriches the analysis of the Ancient Greece-inspired Nocturnal Reverie where romantic elements are overshadowed by the glorification of the outdoor experience. A lyric heroine is enraptured in the beauty she observes and experiences around herself, the scenery “overhung with green”. This transition interestingly reflects the evolution of Anne’s experience as a woman and as a poet in the relevant historical period. The lyrical heroine, appropriately, is deliberately concentrating on the beautiful aspects of life outside of the traditional marriage.