The House on Mango Street Feminist Elements

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The House on Mango Street Feminist Elements

Sandra Cisneros reveals her feminist views through her novel The House on Mango Street. She does this by forcing the reader to see the protagonist as an alienated artist and by creating many strong and intelligent female characters who serve as the protagonist's inspiration.

The idea of the alienated artist is very common in feminist works. Esperanza, the protagonist, is alienated from the rest of society in many ways. Her Latino neighborhood seems to be excluded from the rest of the world, while Esperanza is also separated from the other members of her community. Members of other cultures are afraid to enter the neighborhood because they believe it is dangerous. Esperanza seems to be the only one who refuses to just accept Mango Street, and she dreams of someday leaving it behind. She is considered an artist because she has an extremely creative imagination which creates a conflict with the type of liberal individuality she seeks. This creative "genius survives even under the most adverse conditions..." (Gagnier 137). To escape the pain of this division, Esperanza turns to writing. She says, "I put it down on paper and then the ghost does not ache so much" (Cisneros 110). Gagnier sees a "distinction of the writer who nonetheless sees herself as somehow different, separate..." (137).

Mango Street consists of mostly female characters. These characters are strong and inspirational, but they are unable to escape the suppression of the surrounding environment. According to one critic, "The girl's mother, for instance, has talent and brains, but lacks practical knowledge about society because, says Esperanza, Mexican men 'don't like their women strong' " (Matchie 69-70). It is Esperanza's mother who tells her to never be ashamed because shame can only hinder her dreams. In "The Three Sisters", the women tell Esperanza that she is special and remind her not to forget where she came from when she finally makes it out of Mango Street. This inspiration makes Esperanza understand that she must help others who aren't as fortunate to leave as she is.

Esperanza is a very strong woman in herself. Her goals are not to forget her "reason for being" and "to grow despite the concrete" so as to achieve a freedom that's not separate from togetherness.
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