Thus, Iphigenia in Tauris can be read as an argument against the idea of strict gender expectations. Throughout the drama, there is a strong emphasis on gender. Characters often refer to their own genders, as well as the gender of others, using them as a way of explaining or predicting personality traits and actions. The audience is quickly introduced to the subject of gender roles in society during Iphigenie's opening soliloquy. The character sorrowfully expresses self-pity about her limitations as a woman: I will not judge the counsel of the gods; Yet, truly, woman's lot doth merit pity... How circumscrib'd is woman's destiny!
The wings are a “prescribed issue” to keep the Handmaids from “seeing, but also from being seen.”(8) The nun-like dresses desexualize women while ma... ... middle of paper ... ...t to advocating equality, both cultures enhance gender imbalance. This oppressive nature is worsened through the lack of sisterhood and cohesion among women in Gilead and feminist movements. The Handmaid’s Tale in essence supports feminist politics through demonstrating the wrongful exploitation of women. The book hereby satirizes feminism too. Aunt Lydia’s “freedom from” is in many ways a solution to feminist’s problems with “freedom to.”(24) The book highlights social injustice can take many approaches, visible or hidden, by criticizing repressive feminist ideologies.
Mrs. Warren’s Profession problematizes the expected female agency through the indirect and direct characterization of Mrs. Warren and Vivie while characterizing the male characters as passive, nonchalant, and seeking power through women, therefore fragmenting their patriarchal roles. The female characters in this text rebel and display the same potential expected from men at the time, therefore it showed these females characters working outside the social frame to display empowerment. This is significant to notice because we realize how this text defuses the stereotypical labels placed on women in the 19th century. Both Mrs. Warren and Vivie display their full potential by stepping outside the male social frame. This text intentionally places these two female characters as the focal point of power.
In this manner of ending the tale, Eliza Haywood forces her audience to understand that, while this type of romance may at first appear wonderful in fiction, realistically it would not only be unsuccessful, but also severely damaging to both one's feelings, and more importantly/ her esteemed reputation. Through careful reading, the audience is convinced to come to "a realization that women must learn to read fiction and play within it, rather that fall victim to its idealism and its traps... Haywood presents her romances as a means of protecting women, providing them with the worldly knowledge they need, while warning them against the dangers of the practice." (61)
However, Hope Leslie does not conform to the expected behavior of women during that time, behavior that only further expressed the supposed superiority of males. Hope portrays behaviors and attitudes common in a woman today. Hope is capable of thinking for herself, is courageous, independent, and aggressive. Sir Philip Gardner describes Hope as having “a generous rashness, a thoughtless impetuosity, a fearlessness of the… dictators that surround her, and a noble contempt of fear” (211). In comparison to Esther Downing, Hope is the antithesis of what a young Puritan woman should be, and in turn, Hope gains a great deal of respect from the readers of the novel through her “unacceptable” behavior.
In view of the fact that the Wife of Bath herself does seem to behave in the manner women are accused of behaving by the anti-feminist writers, it is not impossible that the Wife of Bath's Prologue could be considered a vehicle for the anti-feminist message under the guise of a seeming "feminist" exterior, since her confession is frequently self-incriminating (e.g. her treatment of her husbands, her tendency to "swere and lyen") and demonstrates the truth of the claims made by the anti-feminists even while she is disparaging them and making them look bad -- as in her claim that anti-feminist writers (specifically the "clerks", i.e. learned scholars) are revenging themselves on women because of their own sexual impotence that prevents them from enjoying "Venus werkes", which is rather acute psychological analysis on her part, and extremely persuasive, until one remembers that the clerks are right about her at least, if not about other "wives". Her arguments in favor of marriage, though demonstrating a hearty common sense, are also suspect -- while it is true that marriage peoples the earth and replenishes existing stocks of "virginitee", her own marriages do not seem to have produced any offspring, and while it may be "bet [...] to be wedded than to brinne", her marriages, despite her claim that "in wyfhod I wol use myn instrument", do not seem to have prevented her from "goon a-caterwaw[ing]" and by inference engaging in fornication ("I ne loved nevere by no discrecioun / But evere folwede myn appetit, / Al were he short, or long, or blak, or whit") [good], which is after all what marriage was, according to her, supposed to prevent. Moreover, from the account she gives of her marriages, it becomes increasingly obvious t... ... middle of paper ... ... usual folk stereotypical anti-feminism is shown to be justified in at least her case, the absurdity of the more virulent breed of anti-feminism is made clear by Jankin's book of "wikked wives", an erudite, if rather motley, collection of what are mostly homicidally-inclined females (Clytemnestra, Livilla etc.)
The Slipping Slope of Sovereignty Before the Middle Ages, women were societally submissive to male supremacy. As the Middle Ages progressed, one develops a sense that women sought a change in societal order. Upset that they are not able to share their beliefs due to their position, women began to become more vocal. In comparing two great poets Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare, one sees a connection in their most well known works. Chaucer's view on women, demonstrated by the “Wife of Bath’s Tale” and the Wife’s belief that all women desire sovereignty, is welcomed by William Shakespeare but not achievable by Hamlet’s female protagonists, Gertrude and Ophelia.
In “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale” of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, the Wife of Bath challenges the oppressive standards women are expected to uphold and asserts her agency by reassessing women’s public and interpersonal roles. However, rather than naively disregarding the influence of gender constructs, the wife manipulates the “limitations” that binary oppositions create for her gender in order to dominate the skill of persuasion. Through the careful use of language, the Wife of Bath exploits societal standards placed upon females in order to reconstruct women’s role within her culture and the institution of marriage. In particular, the Wife argues that her opinions should be regarded because her amount of marriage experience undermines authority. By invoking experience over authority, the Wife is able to disguise her domineering arguments, references, and ethics as informed opinions rather than efforts to overturn masculine supremacy.
Yet, Jane Austen toys with these ideals by deconstructing gender and sexuality in Pride and Prejudice, by uniting two female characters in Bingley and Jane, two masculine characters in Darcy and Eliza, and further interrogating the supposed opposition of Darcy and Eliza as they represent the binary terms in the title. Jane and Bingley, although of opposite sexes, represent the female character as they are both submissive and weak. Jane waits for Bingley to propose and when he leaves, she waits for his return. Jane is over washed with her emotions when Bingley is gone, as she confides in Elizabeth: “Oh! That my dear mother had more command over herself; she can have no idea of the pain she gives me by her continual reflections on him.
One narrative in particular, that of the Wife of Bath, serves both purposes: to teach and to amuse. She renounces the submissive roles of a woman and reveals the moral to her story while portraying women as sex seeking, powerful creatures, an amusing thought indeed. Through her didactic discourse and witty tale, the other travelers, as well as the reader, discover more about women than they have from any other person’s account. The women in Chaucer’s time were contradictory to that of the image of an ideal woman according to the Wife of Bath. In her prologue and tale, she presents the reader with a radical woman; one who takes pleasure and power in her marriage.