Feminism in Literature

1548 Words7 Pages
Books, plays, and movies that depict culture and social life often make statements about social issues such as gender roles, racism, and class distinction. Stories set up a context in which characters relate, often representing “stock” characters chosen from society and placed in situations where their stereotypical behaviors—and sometimes their breaking of these stereotypes—are highlighted. As feminism became a popular movement in Western countries in general and the United States in particular, female voices were naturally heard through fictional characters. Social and political issues commonly fuel entertainment; feminism, racism, and classism—recurring themes in entertainment through the 20th Century and into the modern day—have defined many narratives that are considered classics. The works that portray aspects of feminist issues and other facets of social inequality are Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, Flannery O’Connor’s “Revelation,” and Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House.” These stories use the female protagonists or lack thereof in central characters to expose gender roles, the perpetuation of social inequality through conversation and refusal to accept change, and the processes of transformation—or lack thereof—to make powerful statements that expose social problems.

The heroines of literature need not be perfect specimens of humanity to gain a reader’s sympathy. Literary technique often involves the creation of flawed and even repellent personages, evoking either reluctant sympathy or horror in the reader. Gone With the Wind’s Scarlett O’Hara—an icon of feminist literature (and later film)—exemplifies a woman of undesirable character, representing the “Southern Belle.” Scarlett O’Hara is a study of this stock chara...

... middle of paper ...

...r messages about equality as seen in action and worldview.

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold, ed. Henrik Ibsen. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1999. Questia. Web. 24 Mar. 2011.

Ibsen, Henrik. “A Doll’s House.” Prestwick House, Inc.:Clayton, 2005.

Lisman, C. David. The Curricular Integration of Ethics: Theory and Practice. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1996. Questia. Web. 24 Mar. 2011.

Mitchell, Margaret. Gone With the Wind. Scribner: New York, 2007.

O’Connor, Flannery. The Complete Stories. Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux: New York, 1971.

Shinn, Thelma J. Radiant Daughters: Fictional American Women. New York: Greenwood Press, 1986. Questia. Web. 24 Mar. 2011.

Singh, Amritjit, and Peter Schmidt, eds. Postcolonial Theory and the United States: Race, Ethnicity, and Literature. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2000. Questia. Web. 24 Mar. 2011.
Open Document