Analysis Of Nervous Conditions

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Many countries around the world have their own traditions. They are an important trait of humanity as they dictate the actions of every person who live under a specific culture. More often than not, people all over the world follow traditional practices with little regard to how and why they were started. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga is centered on colonial Rhodesia during the 1960s where British and traditional African culture is prominent. Women, like Nyasha, struggle to liberate themselves from their culture’s patriarchal society by rebelling against female oppression. Nyasha’s rebellion is achieved through a series of actions that are based on her Westernized mindset, ultimately leading her to develop a nervous condition.
Nyasha’s perspective of the oppressive reality in which her family and country heavily rely on comes to light after she is immersed into Western culture. Nyasha grows up receiving an English education, consequently acquiring western manners and lifestyles that distance her from her native culture. During her time in England, she observes that women are treated as equals and are offered the same opportunity to pursue education and independence. In contrast to the Shona society where women are inferior to men as they live their lives serving men. As a result, she becomes intolerant to men’s overbearing claims of authority and rebels. Since the traditional African culture revolves around patriarchal domination, which “shares an ideological foundation with racism and other forms of group oppression… there is [also] no hope that it can be eradicated while these systems remain intact.” (Haslange, Tuana , and O'Connor) making it much more difficult for Nyasha’s attempts of rebellion to succeed.

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...there are many instances where rebellion is required for change and improvement. Some of these rebellious instances are simple while others are more complex, for instance, standing up to a group of people for what you believe in. Nervous Conditions portrays the struggle of Nyasha, a young girl whose unwillingness to conform to a sexist society has led her to rebel against the norm. Her westernized views have allowed her to see another perspective in which women are set at the same standards as men that strongly contrasts her strict traditional culture. Nyasha’s struggle serves to show that women are not naturally submissive but this attitude comes about because women are brainwashed into believing that they are inferior to men. Nyasha falls victim to anorexia as a last resort of rebellion as it is the only thing she can physically control in hopes to make a change.
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