“Women are the only oppressed group in our society that lives in intimate association with their oppressors.” -Evelyn Cunningham
Feminism is an idea based on the assumption that women have the same human, political and social rights as men, furthermore, that women should have the same opportunities as men in their personal choices regarding careers, politics and expression (Reference.com). A feminist text states the author’s agenda for women in society as they relate to oppression by a patriarchal power structure and the subsequent formation of social ‘standards’ and ‘protocols’. It points out deficiencies in society regarding equal opportunity, and the author will make certain the reader will be aware of this motive (Bahar). In a work of fiction, the main character, or heroine, personifies the social struggle against male domination. Unfortunately, feminism is said to have too many negative connotations and thus it seems the term, and therefore the movement, is restricted by the glass ceiling, of which it aims to fight (Ferguson). Numerous works which we explored throughout the semester possess characteristics of feminist works, in particular, the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper”, written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, written by Flannery O’Connor. These are both considered feminist texts because they aim to portray women as stronger, more independent subjects, and to defy the norms that have been created by men in the past. The feministic ideas that are touched upon help to strengthen the works as well as critique modern society.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” tells a story about a woman’s struggles against male-centric thinking and societal ‘norms’. Feminist allusions are abundant throughout this story. “He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction” (Gilman, 957). Though the narrator characterizes her husband as being very careful and loving, the fact that he does not lets his wife stir without his permission or direction shows how controlling he truly is and instills a picture of male oppression. Here, Gilman creatively crafts her sentences and metaphors to subtly show this oppression.
Similarly, throughout the course of “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, members of her family, particularly men, treat the grandmother with an enormous amount of disrespect. Bailey, the grandmother’s son is especially inconsiderate of his mother and her feelings. He speaks with a definite overbearing authority, as if to discredit anyone else to make any decisions. This instills a picture of male oppression as well. “Will you all shut up? Will you all shut up for one second? If you don’t shut up we won’t go anywhere” (O’Connor 1291-1292). It is devastating the way he speaks down to this mother. And, the grandmother does not argue his words, put him in his place, or much less, try to stick up for herself. In a sense, it is pathetic, because she is bowing down to him, giving him the satisfaction he is...