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The Woman Question: The Oppressed Other Half

Powerful Essays
Evelyn Cunningham once said, “Women are the only oppressed group in our society that lives in intimate association with their oppressors.” For thousands of years women have been oppressed, not in the bondage of slavery but in the bondage that comes from a lack of education and a dependence on men for their livelihood. Women have been subjected to scrutiny and ostracization, belittling and disparaging comments, and even at times they have been feared by men. Women themselves have even taken on the beliefs that they require a man in their life to be taken care of and have a satisfying life although some women and even some men have seen that the differences between the sexes is purely physical. This oppression, as well as the enlightenment of some, is well noted in many literary works. Literature has often been an arena for the examination of the “woman question,” as it was termed in the Victorian age. Four works that examine the role or view of women in society are John Stuart Mill’s The Subjection of Women, T.S. Eliot’s “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, and Carol Ann Duffy’s “Medusa.” Although each work examines a side of the woman question in its own way with a variety of views on the question, all of the works examine the fear that women incite in men, the idea that women are dependent on men, and the idea that women are separate from men in some way and each piece works to show that there is actually an interdependence between men and women that is often not expressed.

Women have often been viewed as separate from men based on the physical differences between the sexes. Early in the women’s movement in England, Mill wrote his book The Subjection of Women which discusses the separ...

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...them than actual service. Men do not want solely the obedience of women, they want their sentiments,” (Mill, 1063) as Mill said. The interdependent relationship that men and women have is not often conveyed but these four works all work to show that there is this ignored duality.

Works Cited

Duffy, Carol A. "Medusa." The Norton Anthology English Literature. 8th ed. Vol. F. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2006. 2875-876. Print.

Eliot, T. S. "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." The Norton Anthology English Literature. 8th ed. Vol. F. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2006. 2289-293. Print.

Mill, John S. "The Subjection of Women." The Norton Anthology English Literature. 8th ed. Vol. E. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2006. 1061-070. Print.

Woolfe, Virginia. A Room of One's Own. The Norton Anthology English Literature. 8th ed. Vol. F. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2006. 2092-155. Print.
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