Essay on Feminist Ideals in Zora Neale Hustron´s Eyes Were Watching God

Essay on Feminist Ideals in Zora Neale Hustron´s Eyes Were Watching God

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America witnessed the birth of the Women’s Rights Movement over 150 years ago with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. Since this historic event, American women have not ceased fighting for equality and free will in every aspect of their lives. While first-wave feminism involved suffrage and political equality, second-wave feminism combatted social and cultural inequalities. Despite limitations to their personal freedom, women have overcome adversity to advocate for and acquire a more equal position in society. Among these progressive women stands Zora Neale Hurston, whose works are viewed as essential to the continuum of American feminist literature. One of the first great American black female writers, Hurston refused to concede to gender conventions and was often criticized for her deportment. And as a proponent for gender equality, Hurston penned her most acclaimed work Their Eyes Were Watching God. The bildungsroman novel follows the story of a fiercely independent African American woman named Janie Crawford and her evolution through several marriages. While enduring a life of poverty, hardship, and confinement, Janie searches for independence and escapes the narrow social restrictions of her sex. Through contrasting philosophies, drastic character foils, and subtle metaphors, Their Eyes Were Watching God serves as an allegorical representation of the struggles females encountered during the first and second wave Feminist Movements. As Janie’s quest for identity parallels female revolutionaries’ reform efforts for social and political equality, Hurston highlights the need for women to have personal voice and individuality despite a sexist environment that denounces those qualities.
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... not result in possession or domination but perfect union. When Jody Starks does not wholly embody her vision, Janie details, “He did not represent sun-up and pollen and blooming trees” (Hurston 130). Hurston draws the significance of this image from its suggestion that Janie, and essentially feminist revolutionaries, have the potential to blossom from an original bud, belief, or idea. Moreover, the author’s incorporation of a mule holds meaning in that it represents the working-class woman struggling for independence: “De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see” (Hurston 14). More importantly, the mule’s ability to remain independent despite a master’s efforts to suppress it into submission signifies feminist persistence and perseverance in gaining rights including equal working conditions, advanced educational opportunities, and the right to vote.

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