With few exceptions, our male dominated society has traditionally feared, repressed, and stymied the growth of women. As exemplified in history, man has always enjoyed a superior position. According to Genesis in the Old Testament, the fact that man was created first has led to the perception that man should rule. However, since woman was created from man’s rib, there is a strong argument that woman was meant to work along side with man as an equal partner. As James Weldon Johnson’s poem, “Behold de Rib,” clearly illustrates, if God had intended for woman to be dominated, then she would have been created from a bone in the foot, but “he took de bone out of his side/ So dat places de woman beside us” (qtd. in Wall 378). Still, men have continued to make women submissive to them while usurping their identities in the process: “[s]elf-determination is a mark of adulthood for American males; for American females of the nineteenth and part of the twentieth century, self-determination was neither expected nor encouraged” (Leder 104). However, not all women were intimidated by the stereotypical expectations imposed by the social norms of their era. Defying their traditional roles, Kate Chopin and Zora Neale Hurston wrote The Awakening and Their Eyes Were Watching God, respectively; in each work a woman reaches independence and freedom by overcoming male dominance in her relationships. Chopin’s protagonist, Edna, and Hurston’s feminist, Janie, discover that through their “radical attempt to be free…the struggle for freedom is not linear but dialectic; the price of change is doubleness, and out of contradiction emerges a new self”—a ...
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Masturzo, Sharon. A Guide to Internet Resources for Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (1899). University of South Florida. 14 Feb. 2000.
Wall, Cheryl A. “Zora Neale Hurston: Changing Her Own Words.” American Novelists Revisited: Essays in Feminist Criticism. Ed. Fritz Fleischmann. Boston: Hall, 1982. 371-92.
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