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Gender Role In Modern Lit Essay

1454 words - 6 pages

CJIA 1Congjia JiaEN 210Ms. Emily ConnerApril 7th, 2014Gender Role in Modern LiteratureThe gender role of women in society is often portrayed by a woman's struggle to escape from her current condition rather than ardently searching her self-identity. In a patriarchal society, it is hard for women to escape from male dominance and pursue a life living as human beings not as women. Feminism in literature firmly holds the belief that both genders should be endowed with the same rights because they have the same nature and origin. Both Their Eyes Were Watching God and "Hills Like White Elephants" involve self-searching of womanhood and female struggles existing in a patriarchal society.By narrating Janie's linear chronology, Zora Neale Hurston turns her focus to Janie's internal exploration. What leads Janie to self-realization and thus independence is her three phases of marriage. Janie regards the "far horizon" to which ships sail and from which they return, narrated in the first chapter, as her standard to evaluate the imaginary version of each of her three husbands. By the concluding chapter, Janie expresses her personal voyage of internal discovery with the metaphor that she has sailed to and returned from the "far horizon".Her self-discovery starts with her first marriage to Logan Killicks who loses affection for her and asks her to do farming tasks after seven months of their marriage. While stuck in an unsatisfactory marriage, an ambitious man, Jody Starks, shows up and promises her a better life if she agrees to run away and marry him. Janie discovers the power of speech for the first time during her quarrel with Logan about leaving him. Her self-esteem is bolstered by having words as a weapon within herself that she never knew before, giving her more confidence on her plan to leave Logan and explore her fantasy world with Jody.Janie encounters the hardship of womanhood in her second marriage when she has her first experience with gender role constraints. During Janie's second marriage, Hurston uses her long, dark and straight hair as a symbol of independence and originality. However, Jody forces Janie to tie up her hair because strong jealousy arises in his heart when he notices men who come into the store gawking at and fondling her hair. This forceful tieing-up of hair, one of her precious assets, symbolically represents the confinement of her spirit itself. The strangled hair that Hurston describes as being wrapped up in the cloth is the external evidence of Janie's strangled spirit in her marriage and her inability to express herself. Janie's spontaneous speech followed by a long period of silence in front of Jody's deathbed signifies her personal growth as she learns when to speak for herself and when to ignore the facts. "The young girl was gone, but the handsome woman had taken her place. She tore off the kerchief from her head and let down her plentiful hair. The weight, the length, the glory was there"(Hurston 87). Janie finally...

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