Essay on Analysis Of Amy Tan 's Two Kinds

Essay on Analysis Of Amy Tan 's Two Kinds

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In Amy Tan 's Two Kinds, Jing-mei and her mother show how through generations a relationship of understanding can be lost when traditions, dreams, and pride do not take into account individuality. By applying the concepts of Virginia Woolf, Elaine Showalter, and the three stages of feminism, one can analyze the discourse Tan uses in the story and its connection to basic feminist principles.
Virginia Woolf, one of the pioneers of modern feminism, found it appalling that throughout most of history, women did not have a voice. She observed that the patriarchal culture of the world at large made it impossible for a woman to create works of genius. Until recently, women were pigeonholed into roles they did not necessarily enjoy and had no way of exploring another side of themselves. In Two Kinds, Jing-mei yearns for a sense of identity that is her own. She doesn 't quite know what that is, however she knows it 's not the piano prodigy her mother wants her to be. Woolf argued that one of the key reasons a woman had not written a work of genius was because women did not have the opportunity to work on what they felt like for uninterrupted periods of time. In 1950s America, where the story is set, most women were just housewives, and women were not yet considered on equal footing with men. During this time in the mother’s home country of China, women were believed to be of a lower standing in the universe and unable to go to Heaven. Jing-mei’s rejection of her mother-imposed identity as a budding piano prodigy draws parallels to the early feminists’ rejection that women were less than equal to men, that the only role for a woman was to be a housewife, and that women were to be treated like animals or children. Jing-mei, like nearly every...


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...w great her daughter and remarks about how she is obsessed with chess with mock disgust. Waverley herself is no saint, as she brags about her level of genius while belittling Jing-mei after her piano recital fiasco. This is strikingly similar to how men looked down upon women as subhuman for most of history. All in all, Two Kinds is quite reflective of how women were treated and perceived in its 1950s American setting.
On the surface, Two Kinds appears to simply be a story about a failed piano prodigy. Looking deeper though, the reader discovers a powerful allegory of feminism. The centuries-long struggle for a woman to be her own person, the evolution of feminism over the years, and the treatment of women as objects or worse, are all cloaked under the story’s seemingly simple surface. Two Kinds is one of the rare gems of literature: a story so short, yet so powerful.

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