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The Feminist Approach

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Feminist literary criticism is approach that is most concerned with the role of women within the context of literature. This includes how female characters are created and understood within any given text, in addition to the role of female authors and female readers. This paper shall focus on some of the theoretical concepts which have been contributed to the feminist literary discourse. It shall compare and contrast aspects of theory put forth by three prominent feminist critics, while also considering the arguments raised by three écriture feminine scholars. The feminist critics to be considered in this essay are Simone de Beauvoir, Elaine Showalter, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar. Their arguments about the role of sexual difference, the depiction of females in a binary oppositions to male characters and authors, as well as the sociological statements that these roles make shall be discussed. The écriture feminine scholars Julia Kristeva, Hélène Cixous and Luce Irigaray shall be drawn upon in order to make the arguments of the feminist critics more clear, but also to offer their own critiques to feminist studies, and how they are manifested within the context of literature. Overall, this paper shall argue that the feminist understanding of the critique of literature is required to further the feminist agenda of equalized understanding not just between the male and female sex, but between all people. The first theorist to discuss is Simone de Beauvoir. The author of a text which is called “The Second Sex”, de Beauvoir offers a specialized critique of the role of the woman within modern society at large, including the literary presence. She accomplishes this by identifying what she refers to as the “myth of woman” (de Beauvoi... ... middle of paper ... ...Sex." Modern Literary Theory. Ed. Philip Rice and Ed. Patricia Waugh. 4th ed. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2001. 41-42. Print. Gilbert, Sandra, and Susan Gubar. "The Madwoman in the Attic." Modern Literary Theory. Ed. Philip Rice and Ed. Patricia Waugh. 4th ed. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2001. 155-161. Print. Irigaray, Luce. "Sexual Difference." Modern Literary Theory. Ed. Philip Rice and Ed. Patricia Waugh. 4th ed. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2001. 236-238. Print. Kristeva, Julia. "Women's Time." Trans. Alice Jardine and Harry Blake Modern Literary Theory. Ed. Philip Rice and Ed. Patricia Waugh. 4th ed. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2001. Showalter, Elaine. "Towards a Feminist Poetics." Modern Literary Theory. Ed. Philip Rice and Ed. Patricia Waugh. 4th ed. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2001. 146-154. Print.
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