"Alas! the love of women! it is known/ To be a lovely and fearful thing!" (Don Juan, st. 199) Traditionally seen as an archetypal masculine poet, better known for his relationships with women than for the sympathetic study of them, Lord Byron has not lent himself easily to a feminist critique. In this, the first such example, Caroline Franklin takes an original and polemical standpoint, reading Byron within the setting of the contemporary debate on the nature, role, and rights of women in society. The heroines of Byron's narrative and dramatic verse are considered, not from a biographical perspective, but by relating these representations to ideologies of sexual difference which held in the poet's day. Viewed in their literary-historical context, these Byronic heroines are compared with other female protagonists of the age, thereby revealing the poet to be unusually honest and bold in his portrayal of female sexuality and its relation to political issues.
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