Naru's Happy Travel
DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.14354/yjk.1999.11.109
블레이크, 예이츠 그리고 노자에 나타난 페미니즘
건국대
Feminism in William Blake, William Butler Yeats and Lao Tzu
,

Konkuk University
Abstract
In this thesis I discussed feministic attitudes in the works of three writers: William Blake’s Visions of the Daughters of Albion, William Butler Yeats’ A Woman Young and Old, and Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching(道德經). Blake and Yeats were English visionary poets and Lao Tzu was an Old Master who lived in the 2nd century B.C. in Han Dynasty China.
In Visions of the Daughters of Albion Blake is not only concerned with the rights of women but also with the slavery systems and freedom. The heroine is called ‘soft soul of America.’ Blake knew the first radical feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and may be responding to her enthusiasm for the emancipation of women. Moreover, the oppression of Oothoon is bound up with the campaign of the early 1790s against both the slave trade and the nearer cruelties in the exploitation of child labour.
The heroine Oothoon is raped by Bromion and abandoned by her lover, Theotormon. Theotormon’s jealousy binds them, back to back in a cave. Bromion’s violence and Theotomon’s jealousy and oppression cause her woe. She is trying to justify the innocence of love, the joy in the making of love and delight in life, the beautiful in every life. Her long outburst against hypocrisy in marriage and restraint in love in the third section of the poem is for women repressed by men in traditional and Christian society. She wants to be a human, not a servant of man.
In A Woman Young and Old the woman speaks first in youth, then in age. This series of poems are companion poems to those of A Man Young and Old. These poetic sequences have an identical structure of eleven poems, ending with a section from Yeats’ translation of the Oedipus cycle. The first poem, “Father and Child” opens with an image of a young woman leaving the conventional world and the judgment of other people for an attractive life and her own opinions. In the sixth poem in the central position, “Chosen” the woman takes for her theme the theme of the poem. The young woman compares the peace and feeling of completeness after lovemaking to the perfect moment when the “Zodiac is changed into a sphere,” the Thirteenth Cycle or Thirteenth Cone in A Vision. It is that cycle which may deliver us from the twelve cycles of time and space. In the last poem, “From the ‘Antigone’” the old woman, now a tragic heroine, narrates her descent “into the loveless dust.” The heroine in A Woman Young and Old tries to find her own voice and life.
In the first chapter of Tao Te Ching the nameless Tao is the origin of heaven and earth which grows the myriad things. Thus these two are the same. Upon appearing, they are named differently. Their sameness is the mystery, mystery within mystery. Heaven is the symbol of man; earth is the symbol of woman. Man and woman have the same root, and their union makes the myriad things. In the sixth chapter of the book Lao Tzu praises feminity, called ‘the valley spirit,’ the root of heaven and earth. The valley is used metaphorically as a symbol of ‘emptiness’ or ‘vacancy;’ ‘the spirit of the valley’ is something invisible, yet almost personal, belonging to the Tao. ‘The female mystery’ is the name of chapter 1, or the Tao which is ‘the Mother of all things.’ All living beings have a father and a mother.
Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching could be translated as The Law (or Canon) of Virtue and its Way. He thought that all straining, all striving is not only vain but counterproductive. One should endeavor to do nothing (wu-wei). It means not to do anything literally, but to discern and follow the natural forces-to flow with events and not to pit oneself against the natural order of things. In this way Taoist philosophy reached out to council rulers and advised them how to govern their domains.
Blake and Yeats insist women’s human rights and the union of man and woman can give us the perfect moment in this life. Lao Tzu teaches us feministic Tao and the harmony of man and woman. The three share great wisdom about the order of the nature and can elucidate the way of Feminism.

 



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