“A Woman Waits for Me”
The literature of Walt Whitman was both influenced and influenced by the American era in which was raised. Whitman was born on May 31, 1819, at a time when the United States was still on the rise. Whitman was fortunate to be born into a working class family, just after the American Revolution. This mentality of a hard working family and man is portrayed throughout his literature. In this paper I wish to show how Whitman’s sexual desires impacted his literary works and how the role of women within society was different during that era. I will compare Whitman to Emily Dickinson, and show their respective contributions to American Literature. I also wish to expand on the progression from romanticism to realism to naturalism in American Literature. Allow me to open with excerpts from “A Woman Waits for Me”.
In Whitman’s “A Woman Waits for Me”, he expresses the importance of women in the lives of men. If it were not for women, the driving force of life, society would cease to exist. From the bottom of his heart, Whitman expresses the deep need for women within a healthy society.
“A woman waits for me, she contains all, nothing is lacking, Yet all were lacking if sex were lacking, or if the moisture of the right man were lacking.” This tells me the sexual relationship is what makes a woman that more wonderful and beautiful. The sexual relation is what gives life and meaning. There is seven different stanzas’ within the poem, each one getting progressively more and more explicit and sexual. Whitman was trying to prove a point in his literature that woman were there to pleasure the man, just as poetry is meant to bring pleasure to the reader. From the start, man and woman were made to be compatible.
In that time, society believed in male chauvinism. Men were believed to be superior to women in almost every aspect of live. Men were the voice of the household, the best educated, one’s who participated in politics, and, ultimately, made the big decisions for the betterment of the family. Women were viewed as educators of the children and submissive partners to their husband’s desires. This is where I see Whitman as being a chauvinist and looking for a partner to be submissive to his sexual desires. Men were the dominant figures in society, and one can see this gesture in the ways Whitman writes in his poems.
This poem, for instance, is very interesting to me. Not in a sexual, perverted way, but it is rather beautiful how Whitman put the very essence of the sexual union between a man in a woman into very eloquent words. This union is the most humanistic and natural union of any species. Every other animal that has roamed this planet has had a sexual relationship to produce offspring for the generations to follow.
“A Woman Waits for Me” is a beautiful representation of what is reproductively necessary for future generations to exist. Without the gift of sexuality there is no room for life; the union between a man and a woman is...