Expected Behavior in The Coquette and The Female Marine

analytical Essay
1905 words
1905 words

Expected Behavior in The Coquette and The Female Marine In society, constructs of correctness have been formed on the basis of expected, gendered behavior. Individuals have traditional roles that they play which are based on the historical performance of their gender. Although very rigid, these traditional roles are frequently transferred, resulting in an altered and undefinable identity that exists beyond the boundaries of gender. These transgressions into the neuter role are characterized by a departure from the normal roles of society which, if successful, complete the gender transference and allow the individual to live within a new set of boundaries. The Female Marine, or the Adventures of Lucy Brewer is the fictional autobiography of a woman who recounts her experiences in the navy and life as a cross-dressed male. Throughout her narratives, Lucy is able to successfully leap back and forth between gender roles without repercussion. On the other hand, Hannah W. Foster's The Coquette is a sentimental seduction tale that narrates the tragic demise of a young woman who attempts to exceed acceptable behavioral boundaries by establishing herself as a virile, independent individual, a role established by Simone de Beauvoir to be associated with the male (Beauvoir 405). Because of the similarity in the situations of these women there lies a need for an examination of their narrative purpose. The differing results of success with these women are found in the author's reflection of their audience's narrative expectations that deal with the social outcome of women who attempt to move beyond gender-identified behavioral roles. In her essay "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenom... ... middle of paper ... strengthen the audience's convictions of virtue and create a security in their beliefs. (Davidson [Foster] viii) Without Wharton's narrative condemnation, the text would be morally empty, with no lesson learned, no wisdom gained. Neither Foster nor Wharton had any choice for her destiny--the narrative sin of Wharton could only be rectified by a fall, by the expected reproach and ominous warning to those who should follow her path. Works Cited: Butler, Judith. Ed. Case, Sue-Ellen. "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution." Performing Feminisms: Feminist Critical Theory and Theatre. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990. Cohen, Daniel A (Ed.). The Female Marine: and Related Works. Massachusetts: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1997. Foster, Hannah W. The Coquette. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

In this essay, the author

  • Compares the fictional autobiography of lucy brewer and hannah w. foster's the coquette, which narrates the tragic demise of a young woman who attempts to exceed acceptable behavioral boundaries.
  • Analyzes judith butler's essay, "performative acts and gender constitution: an essay in phenomenology and feminist theory," which deals with the conceptual presence of gender within society that functions as the primary element in expected behavioral roles.
  • Analyzes how butler illustrates the malleability of gender by comparing it to a dramatized or theatrical character role.
  • Cites butler, judith, case, sue-ellen, and cohen, daniel a (eds.). "performative acts and gender constitution."
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