ALISA CLAPP-ITNYRE ALFRED LORD TENNYSON'S THE PRINCESS WAS FIRST PUBLISHED, Victorian England was embroiled in a vast array of debates concerning women's role in society, placed under the canopy term "the Woman Question." Should women work? What kinds of education should they have? Was marriage to be their sole lot in life? Tennyson's response, couched in this seven-book novel-in-verse, has proven to be a contentious one for his readers then and for critics now. Tennyson's frame story introduces seven college men on holiday who take turns creating an inner story about a medieval princess rebelliously embracing these challenges facing women. Specifically, Princess Ida flees a contracted marriage to a local prince in order to establish a women's university where men are forbidden under penalty of death. But the Prince and two of his men, for love and for the sport of it, disguise themselves as women and invade the Academy, the Prince falling more deeply in love with Ida before they are discovered. When Ida still refuses to marry, the Prince's father declares war on her father's kingdom and ultimately the Academy is turned into a hospital for wounded soldiers. Tending to the wounded Prince, the "hard-hearted" Princess
Victorian Poetry – West Virginia University Press
Published: Jan 6, 2000
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