There is one common thread linking all novels written by males; their female characters are always depicted as the stereotypical female: weak, indecisive and emotionally unstable. The feminist approach to analyzing literature provides an explanation for this phenomenon. In this patriarchal society, women are viewed as the weaker sex, inferior. This can be the result of socialization or some negative interactions with women in the past. Richard Powers employs this standard for female characters in his novel, Galatea 2.2, made evident through the application of the feminist approach and the dialogical method; however, its semi-autobiographical nature blurs the reasoning behind Powers' conformity.
One of the central female characters in Galatea 2.2 is C., a former student of Powers with whom he develops a long-term relationship. Obviously his depiction of C. is swayed by the resentment he feels towards her for ending their relationship and also by the typical qualifications for a female character in a novel. Traditionally, the female gender is viewed as submissive, inferior intellectually and physically, and emotionally unsound. Powers' portrayal of C. is consistent with this model. Throughout the novel, she is referred to as being uncontrollable emotionally, possessing almost erratic behavior, and not having any definitive grasp on her wants and needs. For example, Powers writes, " C. read Buddenbrooks and Anna Karenina. She reread Little Women. Everything made her weep. Everything." (96). He also places C. into another characteristic of the stereotypical role of the female, a woman who is completely dependent on a male. He depicts C. as a woman who needs him in order to thrive and feel comfort...
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... Clearly, she is the rational male and Powers has become the hurt female.
By applying the feminist approach it is apparent that Powers himself is not a unique male author. He, like most of his colleagues, has been given by a male dominant society a mental image of a typical female, weak, indecisive, emotionally uncontrollable, in desperate need of a male to help her live her own life. This subconscious opinion of women is reflected in his portrayal of his female characters in Galatea 2.2. This opinion may be influenced by his placement into the female role in his relationship with A., which would cause him, in retrospect, to paint a negative picture of his female companions. Whatever his reasoning, it is evident through the feminist approach and enhanced by the dialogical method, that Powers, himself is a stereotypical male author writing for a patriarchal society.
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