Study Guide

Canto VII Women & Femininity

By Ezra Pound

Women & Femininity

Pound has a tendency to use figures of women to symbolize his ideal of classical beauty. And at first, you might think, "Oh that's great. He thinks of women as being beautiful and great." The problem is that when you put someone up on a pedestal like that, you end up totally objectifying that person and turning her into an object instead of treating her like an actual human being, which is kind of what he does in Canto VII. Human beings are not perfect, and we don't exactly do other people any favors when we treat them as if they are.

Questions About Women & Femininity

  1. What do you think of Pound's portrayal of women and femininity in Canto VII? Do you think his use of women is a positive one, on the whole? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think Pound has any hope of finding the beauty that he symbolizes through the figure of the ideal woman? What barriers are in his way? Try to use direct evidence from the text to support your answer. 
  3. When Pound is wandering through the old house and knocking at the doors, why doesn't the beautiful woman answer him? What does this absence/silence symbolize for the poem as a whole?

Chew on This

In Canto VII, Pound's tendency to idealize beautiful women actually ends up turning these women into objects, just like Pound accuses modern people of doing when he says that their talk "make stiff about [the woman] a glass" (87).

At the end of the day, Pound's tendency to idealize women is totally a good thing, because it means he's looking up to women instead of down at them.

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