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Themes

"She Walks in Beauty" is completely focused on one woman. But, as you may have noticed, the woman doesn't ever to get speak for herself. Instead, she is totally objectified by the speaker. He actually breaks down her appearance and focuses on different parts of her, from her hair, eyes, and skin to the way she walks. He even says he can guess what she's thinking based on her "smiles" and her blushes!

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. Why doesn't the woman speak in the poem? How would the poem change if we were given a chance to hear her say something?
  2. Why isn't the woman named? What is the effect of praising an unnamed beauty? How would your interpretation of the poem change if she were named?
  3. What's the effect of the poet's idealization of the unnamed woman?
  4. Why does he describe her through metaphor and simile? Why does her beauty need mediation through comparison?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In "She Walks in Beauty," Byron borrows from a long tradition of poetry that praises a woman's beauty by breaking her down into her component parts. This approach effectively objectifies and silences the unnamed woman.

Many feminist critics have criticized "She Walks in Beauty" for its apparent objectification of the unnamed woman. However, Byron breaks from tradition by acknowledging that the woman has "thoughts" and an inner life that he cannot access.

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