‘Quiet Cruising oʼer the Ocean Woman’: Byron's <i>Don Juan</i> and the Woman Question

Caroline Franklin

in Byron's Heroines

Published in print September 1992 | ISBN: 9780198112303
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670763 | DOI:
‘Quiet Cruising oʼer the Ocean Woman’: Byron's Don Juan and the Woman Question

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In turning to Don Juan, one of the greatest long poems in English literature, one is also confronting a work of art consisting predominantly of a gallery of female portraits. This may seem self-evident, but in fact Lord Byron is still habitually associated with the Byronic hero, in spite of the fact that none appears in his masterpiece. It has gone largely unrecognised that his subtle and complex representation of women in Don Juan is unrivalled in male-authored art of the period. Its concentration on different models of female social and sexual behaviour is comparable only with the novels of Jane Austen. This may seem a surprising observation, for Byron and Austen might be thought to have as little in common as possible for literary contemporaries who at one time shared a publisher. This chapter shows that Don Juan and Mansfield Park emanated from a common climate of contemporary debate on the woman question.

Keywords: Don Juan; Lord Byron; Byronic hero; Jane Austen; Mansfield Park; women; sexual behaviour

Chapter.  11483 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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