In the realm of poetry a gendered analysis brings to the reader’s consciousness the weight of tradition that has preceded the writer. As Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar write inInfection in the Sentence: The Woman Writer and the Anxiety of Authorship, “the tensions and anxieties, hostilities and inadequacies writers feel when they confront not only the achievements of their predecessors but the traditions of genre, style, and metaphor that they inherit from such “forefathers”” (290).
Harold Bloom’s notion of the “anxiety of influence” is one that all literary artists are subject to. With a gendered analysis of this concept, readers discover that while the anxiety is universal, it stems from different points for men than it does for women. Gilbert and Gubar articulately demonstrate, “the loneliness of the female artist, her feelings of alienation from male predecessors coupled with her need for sisterly precursors and successors, her urgent sense of her need for a female audience together with her fear of the antagonism of male readers, her culturally conditioned timidity about self-dramatization, her dread of the patriarchal authority of art, her anxiety about the impropriety of female invention – all these phenomena of “inferiorization” mark the woman writer’s struggle for artistic self-definition and differentiate her efforts at self-creating from those of her male counterpart” (292). While men struggle with the anxiety of displacing their predecessors, women face this slew of challenges, and a reader would not be able to discover this without a gendered approach to the work.