Gender Differences In The Tempest And Things Fall Apart

1104 words - 4 pages

In every society, the difference between genders leads to different roles and lifestyles depending on the culture of each society. While there may be similarities between gender roles among many societies, the explanations tend to be different from culture to culture. The society depicted in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is reminiscent of an Ancient Greek or Roman society, where the men are considered to be strong warriors and breadwinners, and the women are looked at as objects, whose main duty is to tend to the children and obey the husband without a question. While at first glance, the Shakespearean play Tempest seems different from Achebe’s book, in reality, similar themes lie at its center, including the abuse of women and male power dominating throughout the play. While the only female character is a young girl, who is a puppet of his father’s will, she has courage to be honest and to stand up against her father on more than one occasion, exhibiting an innate female power like Ekwefi in Things Fall Apart. Hence these two works, while written three hundred years apart and showing two societies at the opposite ends of colonization, illustrate that the gap between them is not as big as one would think when it comes to society’s gender roles.
The Iguedo village at the center of Things Fall Apart lives a peaceful life through the contributions of men and women, who act according to their accepted gender identities. Men are considered to be stronger than women, as presented by Okonkwo, the main character of the story, whose main duties include being strong warriors when there is a need to protect the village, owning property, taking prominent roles in the council and religious festivals, and working on their farms to provide livelihood for their families. Therefore, wealth and manliness manifest through a man’s belongings exemplified by Nwakibie, who was considered a wealthy man because he had three barns, nine wives and thirty children. If a man didn’t work hard and had no titles, he was not considered a man, and was called agbala meaning a woman. From this name, it is obvious that women were considered inferior to men; however, they had a prominent role in raising children and taking care of the house. Women were able to teach and comfort the children, including male children like Nwoye and the strength of women was revealed in their love. Ekwefi, the second wife of Okonkwo, escaped her first husband to be with Okonkwo and would have broken even the rules of their religion to save her daughter, when she was ill, as “… she swore within her that if she heard Ezinma cry she would rush into the cave to defend her against all the gods in the world. She would die with her.” (Achebe, 2739) This remarkable courage even wins the respect of Okonkwo, who otherwise disliked anything womanly, and shows the innate power of women that is often overlooked by men.
However, it is not only in these small African villages that women were overpowered by men....

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