The eponymous ghosts which haunt Toni Morrison's Beloved and Maxine Hong Kingston's "No Name Woman" (excerpted from The Woman Warrior) embody the consequence of transgressing societal boundaries through adultery and murder. While the wider thematic concerns of both books differ, however both authors use the ghost figure to represent a repressed historical past that is awakened in their narrative retelling of the stories. The ghosts facilitate this retelling of stories that give voice to that which has been silenced, challenging this repression and ultimately reversing it.
The patriarchal repression of Chinese women is illustrated by Kingston's story of No Name Woman, whose adulterous pregnancy is punished when the villagers raid the family home. Cast out by her humiliated family, she births the baby and then drowns herself and her child. Her family exile her from memory by acting as if "she had never been born" (3) -- indeed, when the narrator's mother tells the story, she prefaces it with a strict injunction to secrecy so as not to upset the narrator's father, who "denies her" (3). By denying No Name Woman a name and place in history, leaving her "forever hungry," (16) the patriarchy exerts the ultimate repression in its attempt to banish the transgressor from history. Yet her ghost continues to exist in a liminal space, remaining on the fringes of memory as a cautionary tale passed down by women, but is denied full existence by the men who "do not want to hear her name" (15).
Kingston's narrator tackles this repression when she sympathetically frames No Name Woman's story as one of subjugation, pointing out that "women in the old Ch...
... middle of paper ...
... "The Woman Warrior as a Search for Ghosts", Sato examines Kingston's symbolic use of the ghost figure as a means of approaching the dramatic structure of the text and appreciating its thematic search for identity amidst an often-paradoxical bicultural setting.
Sonser makes this argument through a comparison of Beloved with Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. Her essay, "The Ghost in the Machine: Beloved and The Scarlet Letter", draws strong parallels between the two female protagonists, Sethe and Hester, who challenge the oppressive frameworks of their societies. Despite the ideological incongruity of Hawthorne's patriarchal Puritanism and Morrison's racist slavery, Sonser still finds a shared thematic "intersection of subjectivity and social power" (17) that resonates in the stories of two women's attempts at self-definition from the margins of society.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Comparing Beloved and Night The two novels I am writing about are "Night" by Elie Wiesel and "Beloved," by Toni Morrison. Beloved tells about slavery and an ex-slave mother's struggle with a past which is projected as the haunting of her people. It tells the story of Sethe, a mother compelled to kill her child, rather than let the child live a life of slavery. Toni Morrison uses ghosts and the supernatural to create an enhanced acceptance of the human condition and the struggled survival of the Black American. The novel is set in Ohio in the 1880's. The Civil War had been won, slavery had been abolished, however, the memories of slavery still remain. Although the st... [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
2450 words (7 pages)
Comparing Gender And Prejudice, The Beloved Novel About The Romance Of Elizabeth Bennet And Fitzwilliam Darcy Written By
- ... In their traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness. (Mulvey, 1975, p.11) Women are the objects of men’s appreciation and at that time, beauty is the first thing that appeals to a possible husband, supported by the scenes above and the ladies’ frequently shopping of clothing and accessories. On one hand, the film emphasises women’s lower position in society as marriage is their only outlets.... [tags: Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy]
1761 words (5 pages)
- The Webster's New World College dictionary (2005) defines novels as relatively long fictional prose narrative and films as a sequence of photographs projected on a screen in such a rapid succession that they create an optical illusion of movement (p.529 & p.988) . These two genres have been the main topic of an age old debate. The debate revolves around the question, which are better novels or films. People tend to have different opinions on whether books or movies tell a better story.The debate continues to grow due to Hollywood making more and more movies based on books.... [tags: The Lord of the Flies, Beloved, Morrison, Golding]
2116 words (6 pages)
- In her life, Hazel Morse falls into the enticing role of being a woman. She realizes that the attention of men made her who she was and that was all she needed in her life. Eventually the high of being praised and loved by many wears off. She then wants to give up what she made herself to be, a good sport, but it turns out to be a battle, a battle that she thinks she can handle and endure through men, getting drunk, and even death. Hazel struggles with the role of being a woman throughout the short story which influences her to turn to death and alcoholism to ultimately escape this burden that is placed upon her by men.... [tags: Woman, Gender role, Human, Alcoholic beverage]
1112 words (3.2 pages)
- A Woman’s Worth: The Role of Women in Beowulf Throughout time and across many cultures, women have had the lowest status in society. In a patriarchal world, women have consistently been viewed as weaker and inferior to men. As a result, it is no surprise that men have found themselves in places of power and admiration. However, this does not mean that society completely neglects the impact of women; in Greek lore, women take on passive yet important roles, weaving the destinies and doom of many men and earning themselves a reputation as banes of manipulation and deception.... [tags: Beowulf, Gender, Gender role, Woman]
1344 words (3.8 pages)
- Women in the Workplace A woman’s role in American society has been progressive, yet challenging over the decades. Battling the change of America’s once male dominated society, to a nation where the gender role is equally balanced. Within the nation, it struggles with viewing women as equivalent in the workplace, family life, and economically. While we have improved since the colonial times and the 1900’s, we still have further progress to procreate towards to providing stability and equality of women’s financial, working, and family needs.... [tags: Woman, Gender role, Gender, Employment]
1473 words (4.2 pages)
- Comparing Carol Ann Duffy's Havisham and Robert Browning's The Laboratory In the poem “Havisham”, Carol Ann Duffy presents the subject as an old, embittered woman with “ropes on the back of her hands”. In “The Laboratory” by Robert Browning the subject is a strong and determined, but very jealous and embittered, young woman. Both poems are written in the first person in the form of a dramatic monologue. Carol Ann Duffy writes about the feelings of rejection, isolation and desolation that a woman who has been jilted at the alter by her husband might feel.... [tags: Compare Contrast Comparison]
610 words (1.7 pages)
- Role of Women in the 1930’s in the south And the woman characters in To Kill a Mockingbird How would you feel if you were a Woman that lived in the HARSH 1930’s. Women back then worked for ages and didn’t even get payed a dollar. A women’s life was very hard and some people wanted it to change. Women in the Novel “to kill a Mockingbird” were treated like this every day. Women were expected to come home and do everything like cleaning and making dinner and if they had children take care of them after they finished working.... [tags: Woman, Gender role, Abigail Adams, Gender]
918 words (2.6 pages)
- In The Sandman, the weirdness of the tale could be perceived in two directions--the first being that of intellectual uncertainty and the other is that of psychoanalytical experience and namely the ideas of Freud. In order to describe the uncanny experience in Hoffmann's The Sandman and Shelley's Frankenstein it is indispensable, however, to explain and define beforehand what is the connotation of Unheimlich. In my further analysis of the uncanny, I relate the two works and stress on the obsession of the two characters which explains the weirdness in them.... [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
1535 words (4.4 pages)
- The Characters of Beloved In the novel, Beloved, each of the characters plays an important role in the story line. Among them are Sethe, Beloved, Denver, and Baby Suggs. Each character is embodied with a certain unique characteristic. Sethe is a strong woman who had endured much, yet remained brave throughout her life. Denver, originally shy and weak, builds confidence and experiences a transformation. Baby Suggs serves a spiritual mentor, who ultimately passed on her guidance and courage to Denver.... [tags: essays research papers]
665 words (1.9 pages)