A Feminist Reading of Galatea 2.2
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 comfortable, as if she can do nothing without him. "Oh, Beauie. Give me another chance. I've been so selfish and awful. I can be better. I know I can." (97). Powers paints her as a woman who is not in tune with herself, who has no idea what she wants. She always wants to change her location, looking for some other place to go where she might be happy. But, consistent with the dominant view of women, she never is or will be.
Diana is also one of Powers' female characters who can be classified as the stereotypical female. She is a successful scientist, raising two sons on her own. Her husband, and the children's father, has left her to care for them alone. She like the archetypal female character is looking for another male to fill in the now vacant position her husband once held. This behavior is apparent when she invites Powers to dinner at her house and "...put the tapers in the...