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Discuss The Treatment Of Female Alienation As It Is Presented In The Colour Purple By Alice Walker And Behind A Mask By Louisa May Alcott

1678 words - 7 pages

Alienation is when an individual is estranged from their traditional community or made to feel different by others in general. The alienation of women is a key issue to bear in mind when discussing any texts which can be interpreted as having some relevance to gender issues. The Color Purple and Behind a Mask are incredibly disparate in the way they treat the alienation of female characters, which is especially visible in the presentation of the two main characters, Celie and Jean Muir. These two women couldn't be more different, their race, class, level of literacy, temperament and lifestyle are clearly at opposites with each other, but they both face alienation within their communities. From their culture, society and the men that populate those societies, as do the other female characters that surround them. There is much that is contrasting in the way this female alienation is presented, but there are some underlying similarities that are open for comparison.Celie is introduced to us as a victim of abuse, from the very first letter she writes. 'He start to choke me, saying You better shut up and git used to it.' (The Color Purple p1). This physical and sexual abuse, which is dispensed by the man Celie think is her father, is the first step in the long process of alienating Celie from almost everyone around her. Initially her pregnancy angers her mother who dies 'screaming and cussing' (TCP p2) at Celie. This is followed by years of Celie losing the people she cares about; first Nettie is forced to leave by Mr. __. Nettie was Celie's only link to her past, 'It's like seeing you buried' (TCP p18) says Nettie as she leaves Celie with just the company of Mr. __ and his 'rotten children' (TCP p18). Later in the novel after Celie forges a friendship with Sofia, she too is removed from Celie's life; first moving to her sister's and then sent to prison. Shug is an inconstant presence in Celie's life; she leaves on several occasions, although she always returns. Nettie is trying to contact Celie but her letters are withheld by Mr. __, setting him up as the perpetuator of Celie's loneliness. This isolation alienates Celie, she is powerless to prevent those she cares about from leaving. The people that surround her are brought there by Mr. __ or his son Harpo, she has no control over the individuals she lives with, no opportunities to meet new people for herself and no way of communicating with anyone outside her small household. This cutting off from the rest of the world is what keeps Celie powerless and trapped in her situation. Only Shug Avery is able to remove her from this island of isolation.'Celie is coming to Memphis with me.Over my dead body, Mr __ say.You satisfied that what you want, Shug say, cool as clabber.' (TCP p201)Sexual and domestic violence against the women in The Color Purple shows how they are alienated by the society around them. The violence within the black community is accepted. Mr. __ tells Harpo to beat Sofia, 'Wives is...

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