Ariel Renner Humanities and Social Science
Sin-Sheltering Grove: The Implication of Nature and Female Sexuality in Rochesters Poetry
Nature has so often been used as a vehicle to express femininity, sexuality, and eroticism throughout literary history. However, when we speak of nature, there is often an overlooked ambiguity to the term that necessitates further explanation as to the sort of nature a given work focuses on. My research pays close attention to this ambiguity, as I will use a selection of Rochesters poetry, placing particular emphasis on A Ramble in St. James Park, to look at the way that Rochester both furthers this literary tradition and subverts it. I aim to explore the way that he implicates the natural landscape of this poem within the crude eroticism of its subject matter, where it serves to both reflect and challenge standing ideas of the link between the nature of human sexuality and the nature of the material world. Further, I will study A Ramble in St. James Park as a microcosmic reflection of Restoration England, questioning to what degree Rochesters poetic possession of the woman in this particular poem reflects the forced repression and degradation of womens sexuality that so characterizes this time.