Gender Roles In Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin In The Sun

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On August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. The amendment was passed roughly forty years after African Americans were given the right to vote. Although both these amendments were significant legal steps for the two groups, subconscious prejudice and discrimination didn’t disappear. Even people who actively face the discrimination that comes with hateful thinking find it difficult to break out of the prejudice. Women specifically are apt to pursue a more significant role in the world but fail due to men or a subconscious predisposition belittling them. In the play, A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry introduces the characters of Ruth, Beneatha, and Mama to demonstrate the social constructs of gender roles in the …show more content…

While discussing potential suitors with her mom and sister-in-law, Beneatha declares that her career is her priority, not marriage: “I’m going to be a doctor. I’m not worried about who I’m going to marry yet – if I ever get married” (Hansberry 50). Just because she is a woman doesn’t mean her purpose in life is to get married and raise a family. She does not desire to rely on a husband for financial stability and therefore doesn’t see the need to be married soon. Furthermore, she’s an aspiring doctor, a position often filled by white males. Walter even expresses to her how her career choice is unorthodox, “Go be a nurse like other women” (Hansberry 38). Then, he tells her to “get married and be quiet” (Hansberry 38). Walter says this projects the idea that a woman’s purpose in life is to serve a man, whether as a nurse or a house defy the gender roles of their time but submit to the subconscious sexism that bolsters gender roles. Consequently, Beneatha refuses to conform to her brother’s beliefs about her life, yet she is easily influenced by the romantic relationships in her life. Asagai, a love interest who encourages Beneatha to connect to her heritage, proposes to Beneatha and tells her to “come home with me” (Hansberry 136). Beneatha isn’t ready to accept but eventually is delighted to leave behind her schooling and ambitions. Even Mama, who is constantly pestering Beneatha about marriage is uncertain about the arrangements. Beneatha still attempts to pursue the conversation in a “[g]irlishly and unreasonably” way. Throughout the play, Beneatha is presented as a character who is proud to be a woman not in need of a man and this idea of her is discarded in the final scene. Her ending enforces the idea that woman can’t have a happy ending without a man. As newer generations start pushing gender

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