Women’s Oppression in Hurston’s “Sweat”: The Stereotype of Women’s Role in Society

Women’s Oppression in Hurston’s “Sweat”: The Stereotype of Women’s Role in Society

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Women’s Oppression in Hurston’s “Sweat”: The Stereotype of Women’s Role in Society
In Zora Neale Hurston’s 1926 short story “Sweat,” Delia Jones a washwoman and house owner is portrayed as an abused wife. Even though she has a job and owns the home she occupies, it does not change the fact that her husband still holds power over her. Women are stereotyped by society as housewives, which make them feel repressed of freedom. Women are repressed by society’s views and are limited in freedom, thus women such as Delia are unable to get what they desire.
In Delia’s case she is a women with a job, but even with work she is still powerless to Sykes, her husband. As a woman her freedom is still robbed from her by men’s overpowering force, which in her case is Sykes’s abusive behavior towards her. It also shows that men in society disagree with women working at jobs, as shown through Sykes’s words, “Ah don’t keer if you never git through. Anyhow, ah done promised Gawd and a couple of other men, ah ain’t gonna have it in mah house. Don’t gimme no lip neither, else Ah’ll throw’em out and put my fist up side yo’ head to boot” (176-77). Sykes claims emphasize that men including God are in agreement with him that they too also do not approve of women performing work. Women who have work means that they have equal standing as men, which goes against society’s views. Also, Delia’s marriage represents the binding of mental and physical freedom to her husband, which she has endured with for many years.
Society views stereotype women as people that stay at home and perform house related functions. They are not given equal rights as men, and as such feel repressed from their freedom. A woman who has a job is viewed as one who has equal standing w...


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...rt Story Criticism 40.1 (2001): 74. Literary Resources from Gale. Web. 23 April. 2014.
Green, Suzanne D. “Fear, Freedom and the Perils of Ethnicity: Otherness in Kate Chopin’s ‘Bayou’ and Zora Neale Hurston’s ‘Sweat’.” Southern Studies Vol. 80 (1994): 105-24. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 28 April. 2014.
Hurd, Myles R. “What Goes Around Comes Around: Characterization, Climax, and Closure in Hurston’s Sweat.” Langston Hughes Reviews 12.2 (1993): 91. Literature Criticism Online. Web. 23 April. 2014.
Hurston, Zora N. "Sweat." Literature: A Portable Anthology. Ed. Janet E. Gardener, Beverly Lawn, Jack Ridl, and Peter Schakel. Boston: Bedford/St.Martin, 2013. 176-79. Print.
Seidel, Kathryn L. “The Artist in the Kitchen: The Economics of Creativity in Hurston’s Sweat.” Zora in Florida Vol. 80 (1991): 62. Literature Criticism Online. Web. 28 April. 2014.

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