Throughout history, women have made a name for themselves. By rising up and fighting for something that they believed in, the Mirabal sisters made a name for themselves in the Dominican Republic and in Julia Alvarez’s novel In the Time of the Butterflies. By applying a theory to a novel, readers can relate the book to the world they are living in today (Davidson). Feminism can be defined as a dynamic philosophy and social movement that advocates for human rights and gender equality (“Feminism”). Feminist Theory involves looking at how women in novels are portrayed, how female characters are reinforcing stereotypes or undermining them, and the challenges that female characters face (Davidson).
Alison is the epitome of shallowness. She notes that the success of her marriage depends entirely on her ability to manipulate them for money: “Lies, tears, and spinning are the things God gives/By nature to women….I never would abide/In bed with them if hands began to slide/Till they had promised ransom” (Chaucer 269). Alison serves as an archetype of the gold digger, since she withholds sex until she is paid. This action also fulfills the misogynist’s notion that women act for selfish reasons. Throughout the novel, the women are depicted primarily as semi-feminists.
In The Wife Of Bath’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer, the reader is exposed to the roles of women in medieval England. During these times, there were instances where some women were supposed to be submissive to men and others were that women actually had some forms of power. An analysis of the women's roles in the middle ages reveals one thing: women in the middle ages wanted equality, and they still want it, even in the modern times. In The Wife Of Bath’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer, women’s roles, are redefined in many ways. One way they are redefined would be that the woman wanted power equal to that of a man, for example when it says, “A woman wants the self-same sovereignty over her husband as over her lover, and master him; he must not be above her”(Chaucer l.77-82).
Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, argues that women are instruments of the patriarchy, that women know this, and that women allow the system of oppression to live on. Her fictions ask, “What stories do women tell about themselves? What happens when their stories run counter to literary conventions or society’s expectations?” (Lecker 1). The Handmaid’s Tale is told through the protagonist, Offred, and allows readers to follow through her life as a handmaid while looking back on how life used to be prior to the societal changes. The novel is set in a dystopian future that illustrates the collapse of the US government, a new theocracy taking over, and how the theocracy has supposedly solved the problem of fertility with the creation
The Awakening by Kate Chopin, is a highly acclaimed and controversial classic which is widely accepted as a big cornerstone for the women's movement. It can be said that such piece of literature helped lay some of the foundations for the political theory of feminism, and it suggested and inspired many women to seek their equality. This is mainly because the book itself explores the physical, emotional and mental state of Edna Pontellier, whose goal was to step out of the boundaries of a stereotypical Victorian wife. The main conflict of the narrative could be explained as an internal struggle, in which the protagonist begins a process to seek her desires, her inner self and even love. Those reasons alone are enough evidence to imply that The Awakening's plot is themed around an internal chain of discoveries and realizations.
Gender Separation in “Jury of Her Peers” Susan Glaspell was a woman author that developed a different genre of writing for women in her time period. She was a feminist that broke the silence that women had in the early 1900s, giving an insight into how women thought and were treated. Glaspell wasn’t what was thought to be the typical woman of her time, and she tested the idea of how a woman must act through her writings and achievements. “Her plays, stories, and novels explore universal themes that continue to be vital and challenging to readers and scholars today: themes of American identity, individuality vs. social conformity, the idealism of youth, the compromises of marriage, the disillusionments and hopes of aging” (“About Susan Glaspell.”).
Sophocles play “Antigone” introduces a lot of debatable topics such as Human law vs Divine laws, pride, but most importantly the topic of woman’s movement for empowerment. Long before 442 B.C.E, women were belittled because of their gender however, after the birth of “Antigone” it demonstrated a strong outreach towards women and their roles in society ”Antigone, a woman who defines King Creon’s edict without any fear, doubts, or regrets. This courageous woman, the fruit of incest, has fascinated philosophers in the nineteenth century, inspired playwrights in the twentieth century, and intrigued feminist thinkers and activists for decades” (Söderbäck). Birth from a respected bloodline, Antigone doesn’t feel respected at all within her town, especially from her uncle Creon who became entitled as the King after Antigone’s blood
Natalie Zemon Davis highlights Bertrande’s role in The Return of Martin Guerre. In doing so, she explores the little regarded world of female peasantry. Bertrande is a woman with two seemingly contradictory desires in life: a desire for independence and a desire to uphold her reputation as a virtuous woman (28). In a medieval society where womanly virtue is based off of obedience to the males in one’s life, these desires appear contradictory; independence in a woman is dangerous because she will be prone to disobedience, and disobedience would stain her appearance of womanly virtue. However, Bertrande manages to execute both of these desires throughout her life.
The feminist accept Portia as a women who subverts social status and overcomes the suppression of women's right in a patriarchal society. On the other hand, she is criticized that her choice is a repression of minorities. And she decides the case against Shylock and aggravate Shylock's isolation. Though, there are different opinions in her choice, she is highly respected for her action to overcome the restriction against women in courtroom and excel ability of men. Thus, there is no doubt that Portia is a wise women who displays her abilities as a women.
Pecola finds herself drawn to the prostitutes because they do not accept the ugliness forced upon them and instead find themselves worthy of love and beauty. While the prostitutes may look like Pecola, they do not think like her. Pecola’s family “wore their ugliness, put it on, so to speak, although it did not belong to them” (38). Her whole family falls victim to the mask of ugliness placed upon them by their economic status and race. Her parents accept their ugliness and teach it to Pecola, who accepts her ugliness without question.