The Power Of Patriarchal Power In Doris Lessing's The Grass Is Singing

1726 Words7 Pages
Zia Muhammad
Dr. Summer Pervez
ENGL 615
01 December 2016
Mary’s complacent subjugation to the omniscient power of Patriarchy: the sole cause of her neurosis and ultimate Murder
The panoptic nature of societal power makes it very easy, for women, to fall prey to the obedience of patriarchal norms of the society. The protagonist, Mary Turner, in Doris Lessing’s The Grass is Singing is the perfect example of how the societal power tries to conform Mary to its norm and how is she gradually led toward neurosis ultimately to death in this disciplinary process. The society Mary lives in has the stereotypical images about women. Such a woman at Mary’s age should get married, raise children, and abandon all those pinkish and girlish clothes.
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Her jubilation over the death of her father is the indication of her freedom from the social norms, of determination to not live at the dictates of the patriarchy. She is happy so far she was living the life of “care free existence of a single women”, with the disposition of “an arid feminism” (Lessing 35). In his essay, “Panopticism”, Foucoult has explained the inevitability of power- determined to discipline the society. One thing we should keep in mind is that the power, Foucoult is talking about, is gendered in nature; it has more adverse effects on women as compared to men. According to Foucoult the mechanism of surveillance is inevitable and spread throughout the society. Mary could not live in seclusion, away from the effect of societal norms, for long time. When Mary has not get married well over thirty, when she keeps her shy manners and when she still wears youngish clothes, those so-called friends around her start to gossip about her, saying that “She just isn’t like that, isn’t like that at all. Something missing somewhere” (Lessing 48). They start judging Mary from the standards of a social-accepted woman. The use of power through surveillance tries to make the behavior of the individual more complacent to the disciplinary process of the…show more content…
For her “Gender is a norm” in itself. She believe that gender is a mechanism for the normalization of masculinity and femininity to create the performativity that gender assume. Each gender is associated with certain roles which should be fulfilled; otherwise, the society will criticize or even condemn the one who does not fulfill his\he role. According to this view, women have to stay at home and take care of their husbands, children and homes while men have to fulfill their family’s needs by working outside. Lessing illustrates women’s traditional role through the basis on which Dick has chosen Mary. The narrator clarifies Mary’s traditional role through these line: “He knew perfectly well what he wanted: a pleasant companion, a mother for his children and someone to run his house for him. He found Mary good company, and she was kind to children” (Lessing). Now this attitude perfectly shows and anticipates the bad consequences, Mary is doomed to face. For a single working women, who is happy in her life, this is the murder of her true self. This attitude, of patriarchy toward traditional gendered role, can be well seen when Mary is asked, “but you must talk women’s talk sometime” (Lessing 77). Now here we can see how women are expected to conform to the role they are assigned by the society. Mary even tries

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