What kinds of dramatic criticism were practiced by Romantic essayists such as S. T. Coleridge and Charles Lamb? How does Jameson resemble and/or differ from such predecessors in her approach to dramatic representations?
How would you characterize her approach? What is her purpose in dissecting the “character” of Lady Macbeth and suggesting how her readers should view her? (wishes readers to feel identification and sympathy rather than disgust and revulsion)
Who would have constituted her audience? Do you think she is successful in appealing to them, and why?
What does she think of the judgments of earlier critics on Lady Macbeth? Is it important that all these prior critics were men? Might she be described as practicing gynocriticism?
How would you describe Jameson’s style? (assertive, dramatic) Is it effective?
What do you think of her arguments? Are they similar to other Romantic approaches to the problem of evil? (e. g., the admiration of Milton’s Satan, Keats’s statement that Shakespeare’s imagination delighted equally in creating an Imogen and a Iago)
On what grounds does Jameson find Lady Macbeth more intelligence and resolute than her husband? What is her view of Macbeth himself?
Do what extent does Jameson’s approach resemble modern reader-response criticism? The impressionist response to art advocated four decades later by Walter Pater in The Renaissance?
Why do you think Jameson chooses Lady Macbeth as the subject with which to end her book? Why doesn’t she avoid her in favor of heroines who need less defense?
Characteristics of Women was highly popular and went through many editions, including a later one illustrated with photographs of actresses. What were some reasons for its appeal?
What would be the point of contrasting the respective merits of Clytemnestra, Medea, and Lady Macbeth as subjects of art? (debate on ancients vs. moderns) Who else in this period held opinions on the respective merits of modern vs. classical literature?
Why would this have been an important debate at the time? Would it have had special relevance for women, who presumably had less access to the classics?
Legends of the Madonna, 1852
What seems to have been some of Jameson’s purposes in writing this book? Its intended audience? (pioneering in representing women as other than beautiful objects; opened up a way for Protestant women to understand and appreciate Renaissance art)
What are we to make of the different maters? Of Jameson’s descriptions of each? (impressionist viewing of human emotions portrayed in art)