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Karoline Friederike Louise Maximiliane von Günderrode(* February 11, 1780 - July 26, 1806) was a German poet. Her poems are commonly related to Romanticism

Karoline von Günderrode Anonymous Painter, circa 1800 Historical Museum, Frankfurt Main

Karoline, the oldest of six siblings, came from a poor but aristocratic family. In 1797 she entered a residence for noblewomen in Frankfurt, an institution in which poor unmarried aristocratic ladies were cared for and could live respectably while still keeping an eye out for a suitable marriage partner.

Karoline was unable to come to terms with the prescribed feminine role and, ahead of her time, observed: “Masculinity and femininity, as they are usually understood, are obstacles to humanity.” She suffered severely under the limitations of these roles. In a letter to Gunda von Brentano she writes: “I’ve often had the unfeminine desire to throw myself into the wild chaos of battle and die. Why didn’t I turn out to be a man! I have no feeling for feminine virtues, for a woman’s happiness. Only that which is wild, great, shining appeals to me. There is an unfortunate but unalterable imbalance in my soul; and it will and must remain so, since I am a woman and have desires like a man without a man’s strength. That’s why I’m so vacillating and so out of harmony with myself….” Karoline suffered from a nervously induced melancholy and had an unpredictable temperament that alienated some.

While attending a social event Karoline met Karl von Savigny and fell in love. As she and him feel in love, Karoline reached the point where she expected a marriage proposal. Savigny, on the other hand decided to marry a less intellectual friend of Karoline Von von Günderrode's Gunda von Brentano.

After Savigny's betrayal Karoline worked on her art. She wanted her art to unite life and writing. She wrote works with strong heroic women in the central role, such as Hildegun und Nikator and Mora. Through her writing she criticized the ideals of the bourgeois society at the time and its traditional gender roles.

In 1804 Karoline met the philologist and archeologist Friedrich Creuzer. Although he was married, Friedrich and Karoline developed a relationship. Creuzer asked his wife for a divorce, which she agreed to. Although Creuzer suffered depression and anxiety from the public scandal resulting from his divorce and relationship with Karoline. Creuzer sought advice from his friends and colleagues. They suggested that he forget Karoline because she would never be a suitable wife.

Under the stress and anxiety from the scandal Creuzer became ill. In order to die with Creuzer, Karoline killed herself with a dagger.[1]

References

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