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Jeanette Winterson's Written on the Body and Caryl Churchill's Cloud Nine

Jeanette Winterson's Written on the Body and Caryl Churchill's Cloud Nine

In Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body and Caryl Churchill’s Cloud Nine differences between male and female roles in society become distinct. Through these differences, an intricate web of male and female characters seems to be woven, and we can see the clarity between gender roles. With the support of Churchill’s Cloud Nine by Jeffrey Barber, “You see, I am no stranger to love”: Jeanette Winterson and the Extasy of the Word by Celia Shiffer, and “Body Languages: Scientific and Aesthetic Discourses in Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body,” the idea of love and gender roles present in Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body and Caryl Churchill’s Cloud Nine become alive, and we see how these characters both form to and break from their assigned roles. The roles of the characters are exemplified by distinct differences between the genders through the presence of love and gender stereotypes, the dominant idea of nature, and the struggle between male and female characters with specific reference to sexual relationships and marriage.

Gender stereotypes seem characteristic in both Written on the Body and Cloud Nine. Clearly the women are expected to be submissive, while the men are to be assertive. The first time we see the idea of these gender stereotypes in Cloud Nine is with Edward and his sister Victoria’s doll. Dolls are clearly not toys for boys; they are only for little girls. And so, when Edward is caught playing with the doll, his father and mother show disappointment in him because it is not proper for a boy to play with a doll. Edward gives the doll up unwillingly. The second time Edward is caught playing with the doll Betty says ...

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...tinguishable, often seems figures as a condition of being human rather than coded with female specificity” (Shiffer 33). Schiffer draws our attention to a very important concept brought about throughout the two novels; the concept of loss. Love can only be measured by loss, and in Written on the Body the narrator realizes the importance of Louise and the impact she had on her life only after she is gone. However, when Betty leaves Clive in Cloud Nine she realizes all that she can do for herself, which furthermore signifies Clive’s irrelevance to her life. Both of these works explicitly work for and against one another both forming to and breaking from very intricate connections. Through both texts, we can see how each of the characters wants to conform to certain stereotypes, and how ultimately, many of the characters end up breaking from the stereotypes set forth.

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