Contrasting Gender Differences in in Medea versus Wide Sargasso Sea
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Gender Differences in in Medea versus Wide Sargasso Sea
Stereotypical attributes traditionally associated with women, such as having a propensity to madness, or being irrational, frivolous, dependent, decorative, subordinate, scheming, manipulative, weak, jealous, gossiping, vulnerable and deceitful were common in the times relevant to both works, i.e. Ancient Greece and in the 19th and early 20th Century.
Masculine attributes in Euripides' time were more along the lines of being valiant, heroic, noble, dominant (over women,) politically powerful, assertive, and competitive. The 19th Century white British male was also expected to be domestically and politically dominant, stiff upper lipped, virile, authoritative, somewhat forbidding... patriarchal.
Though written millennia apart, both Euripides' "Medea," and Rhys's "Wide Sargasso Sea" portray the subjugation of women (by men,) in a patriarchal society, along with its inherent suspicion of women, their sexuality and power over men's perceived weaknesses. In both works, the leading man's financial status is enhanced by the relationship, his partner's wealth/dowry passing to him on betrothal, as was the status quo. "I assure you that it belongs to me now," Rochester underscores to Antoinette, referring to her wealth, ("Wide Sargasso Sea," Part 2 p103)
This affords him control of her, rendering her dependant upon him, a disempowerment for Antoinette, a figurative enslavement.
Both men are unfaithful to their partners, though not in a `moment of weakness,' but premeditated, instilling jealousy in their spouses. Neither of them meets the strengths of character expected in their day. Jason displays no physical strength, valour or bravery. Indeed, Medea accuses him ...