Jennings and Gilman seek to compare and critique the notions of masculinity and femininity, to do so they convey what constructs these notions. Both texts present two constricting gender roles which many of the characters seem to both adhere to and subvert, emphasising the idea that “the ‘masculine’ is always positioned against an excluded ‘feminine’” (Murrie 68). One of the notions the authors use to explore this is through the roles of Husband and Wife. The expectations and rules that are placed upon both couples from the texts in order to fulfil their role, influence their relationship, the plot and the way in which their character exists in the world of the story. The two opposing roles reflect the idea of masculinity and femininity being “a highly polarised binary” (Harper 509) where the two notions “gain meaning only...
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...s an entrapment of Irene, she is stuck in her role of a mother which she resents in absolute. Jennings is using Irene to explain that femininity is expected of all women, but does not resonate in every woman. This carries on in Irene’s daughter, Girlie, who is described as “hot blood(ed)” and “dances to her own rhythm” (57) in a scene where music is playing. Once again, Jennings is portraying a woman who does not conform to the notion of femininity, symbolising this when Girlie dances out of time. Girlie is described as “eager, earnest and graceless” (60), Girlie makes herself the heroine of her own stories with her wild imagination, describing these characters as a “fearless girl” (60). Jennings is continuously suggesting that Girlie’s graceless traits and outspoken nature separates her from the docile feminine image, thus much like Irene, she is criticised for it.
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