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Gender In Literature Essay

2452 words - 10 pages

People who are different, who go against the status quo, are those that receive labels like outcasts, weird, or freaks. Characters that are different however, are attractive to audiences. It is their defiance and ability to see through the cracks of stereotypical society and rebel against them that can peak curiosity within a reader. There are people in the world who believe that they alone in their thoughts or actions; they can find common ground- or inspiration through a character. These outcasts are the ones that trigger emotions within the audience, ranging all over the emotional spectrum: from anger to shock to envy. Many authors, especially those who lived and wrote during times of repression of groups and urges for social change, wrote “outcast” characters that were shocking to the time. Kate Chopin and Sandra Cisneros, two authors from two separate eras of history, portray the main characters in their stories as outsiders within their respective environments. In Chopin’s The Awakening (1899), Edna Pontellier struggles with the demands that society expects her to fulfill. In Cisneros story, “Woman Hollering Creek” (1991), Cleófilas has moved to a new country with a new husband, and struggles to find her place between two separate cultures, while dealing with an abusive relationship. Chopin and Cisneros present their characters as outcasts by contrasting them to societal norms of the authors’ respective time through the use of point of view, structure, symbols and overall themes.
Outsiders have deviated from, or refuse to conform to, the social “norm” and can therefore be subjected to discrimination. The clinical definition of an outsider, from Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, is “a person who does not belong to or is not accepted as part of a particular group of organization” (Merriam-Webster). Human beings have experienced this sort of exclusion throughout history for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons include: race, gender, sexual orientation, physical appearance, intelligence, or social standing. Discrimination is meant to isolate someone from accomplishing a task or taking part in something. However, it is not always necessary that a third party place the label of “outsider” on an individual. The feeling of being outsider can be internalized first, before the outside community is even aware of any deviations from common society. This internalization is found in both Kate Chopin’s character Edna Pontellier and Sandra Cisneros’s protagonist Cleófilas; where both authors play on the gender discrimination, as well as social standing. In literature women are often portrayed as outcasts, especially in times where new movements or progressive thinking were taking on rights issues. Chopin and Cisneros come from different eras, and their characters experience different discriminations; Edna is mostly ostracized for going against her gender norm, while Cleófilas is discriminated due to race and gender. In stories such as these, is...

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