Essay on Chinua Achebe as the Madwoman in the Attic

Essay on Chinua Achebe as the Madwoman in the Attic

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Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar pursue a definition for what it means to be an authoress in a male dominated culture of writers. The central question for Feminists, according to Gilbert and Gubar, is: “Does the Queen try to sound like the King, imitating his tone, is inflections, his phrasing, his point of view? Or does she ‘talk back’ to him in her own vocabulary, her own timbre, insisting on her own viewpoint?” However, I cannot overlook the prospect of a man feeling just as mad and cooped up writing a text that others would view as out of his league. Chinua Achebe is the epitome of this Madman in the Attic. Born and raised in London, and brought up Christian he was as far away from being Okonkwo as I am as a white middle class American female. If Gilbert and Gubar are accusing women of feeling out of place writing in what then was a man’s field of expertise then Achebe masterfully channels the feminine madness into Things Fall Apart by writing a culture of strong independent women masked by silent passive girls.
Chinua Achebe analyzes a culture he is not accustomed with. The Madwoman in the attic theory comes into play as a westerner writing about “savage Africa”. Things Fall Apart provides an important understanding of Africana identity and history for those in the West who may be unfamiliar with African culture. Achebe tackles female identity within this book with delicacy keeping with the Ibo view of female nature in the background of the story but the forefront of the reader’s mind. A discussion of womanhood must touch upon manhood because they operate as a complementary, opposing, and equal entity.
The central character, Okonkwo, has three wives that he treats like servants rather than helpmates. His wives "live in perp...


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...exiled to his motherland. Uchendu, his uncle, notices Okonkwo's grief and powerfully explains to Okonkwo how he should view his exile: "A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland. Your mother is there to protect you. And that is why we say that Mother is Supreme”. The only credit and fulfilment these women enjoy is motherhood. They receive respect and love from their children. They are strong for their children. Women are viewed to be very gentle and caring. They are expected to take care of their children with the best of their ability. Women are trusted totally by their children. This honorable portrayal of women is used by Achebe to identify women's role in the Ibo society. This portrayal is necessary to show that women indeed play an important role in society.

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