Essay on The Woman Should Never Wear Artificial Silk

Essay on The Woman Should Never Wear Artificial Silk

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Doris uses her looks to draw men in and keep them for a short period. Acting as somewhat of an expert, she tells Brenner, “a woman should never wear artificial silk when she’s with a man” (Keun, 94). She understands that it’s her appearance, more specifically the level of which she can be perceived as glamorous to her male suitors. This is quite a jump from the working women of the late 1910’s and 1920’s, who supposedly altered their looks for themselves. This brings into question what exactly those women accomplished in terms of equality. Doris still continues to rely on over sexualizing herself to get support from men.
It’s an endless cycle in which Doris uses her appearance to get men to pay for her living. Another one of her men, Alexander, is attracted to her because of her youthfulness. He lavishes her in material goods: laces, silks, purses, nightgowns, and gifts for her friends (Keun, 108). She adores the glamourous treatment, constantly referring to herself as a “lady”. Doris, who at first seen a supposed “new woman”, throughout the book Keun reveals Doris as the type of woman to give into the social and gender constructs.
In the beginning of the novel, Keun writes Doris as a working woman. Even though her job writing letters for her boss is not the most strenuous work, Doris still puts in hours at the office, even calling it a “decent company” (Keun, 3). She earns enough money to “buy a hat for [herself] with the 50 marks I had left” after giving the majority of her money, “70 of my 120… to [her] father” (Keun, 5). In these first couple of pages, Doris is portrayed as the hard working woman who defies the idea of a man-dominant work force. Instead of her father being the sole bread winner in the family, Doris and her m...


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...e title of the novel relates to her want to be a genuine “silk girl”; however, she always doesn’t meet the standard. By wanting to be a star in the limelight, Doris tries to make herself a visible figure for more men to see her as “full silk”. She struggles to balance the independence that comes from being a “new woman” and depending on men, even falling in love with them, by a means of using her body. Doris consistently denies being a prostitute to those who allude to it (Keun, 125). She makes it clear she is a “lady”, a term she had brought up before when she was with Alexander. Doris associates her actions as not those of a prostitute, rather a woman who is treated well by rich and powerful men. It’s hard, especially in the Weimar period, to equate Doris’s experiences as an urban as actions of a prostitute or a new woman embracing her sexuality as a means of gains.

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