Women's Roles Then and Now Essays

Women's Roles Then and Now Essays

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Women's Roles Then and Now

Bob Dylan once wrote, ‘the times they are a-changin', I beg to differ. The 1960's were defiantly a time of dramatic change with the introduction of the women's liberation movement. But has all that much changed? Are all western women really liberated or are they simply being told so and believing every word, like the good little housewives men want them to be?

A comparison between the Elizabethan era view of women through a ramble in St. James's Park with the more contemporary writing of The Prize-Giving to show how the patriarchal view of women hasn't changed as they continue to be seen as inferior and objects of sexual desire thus promoting men as superior.

Though the subject of both John Wilmot's "A Ramble in St. James's Park" and Gwen Harwood's "Prize-Giving" is women, they both written with different tones, diction, and form which emphasize the different social settings and era's exposed through poetry.

Hardwood's poem is about a pompous and conceited professor Eisenbart (dominating male) who is invited to a prize giving ceremony at an all girls' school (subservient female). Immediately we see the masculine figure in the poem in a position of superiority over the female mass, consisting of students and the headmistress who is described as inferior to him in the line ‘the Head in humbler black flapped round and steered/her guest, superb in silk and fur'. He is described in a way to have some form of grandeur over the women in attendance through ‘When he appeared / the girls whirred with an insect nervousness' and also in a more underlying tone through ‘He shook / Indifferently a host of virgin hands.' These lines establish his superiority and also expose the type of society in which Harw...


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...man and libertine, from Victorian times, a notably different society with regard to the freedoms and rights of women.

All these differences and influences aside, they are still both driving at a similar point, whether obvious or not, which is the seductiveness of women.

This opinion even over the three hundred years between their writings has not waned. The same opposition for women possessing independence and expressing their sexuality is still as strong today. Although now in modern times, women can have their own jobs, estates and anything else they wish, they are still connected with the ideology surrounding figures like Eve and of having simple beauty. Intelligence and sexuality are still seen as a masculine trait and although the media encourages the liberation of women, will they ever be as liberated as men?

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