This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Gender Roles In Great Expectations Essay

3539 words - 14 pages

Gender Roles in Great Expectations

 
     The importance of the Victorian ideal of motherhood is glimpsed in Charles Dickens's personal life. Dickens's main complaint against his wife when he separated from her was her terrible parenting. Around the time that his separation from his wife was being finalized, Dickens complains of Catherine in a letter to his friend Angela Burdett Coutts: "'She does not -- and never did -- care for the children; and the children do not -- and they never did -- care for her'" (qtd. in Slater 146). From evidence in other letters and the seeming abruptness with which Dickens took on this point of view, Dickens biographer Michael Slater suggests that this was "something that Dickens had to get himself to believe so that he could the more freely pity himself in the image of his own children" (146; original emphasis). That Dickens would use this "psychological trick" in this way implies the severity of such an accusation for Dickens personally and for Victorian society in general. Dickens's accusation suggests the immense value placed on motherhood and maternity, qualities that, in Great Expectations, Mrs. Joe clearly lacks and that Pip is not accustomed to receiving. In creating a marriage where the wife is supremely un-nurturing and the husband is caring and kind, Dickens uses distortion of accepted gender roles to draw attention to and perpetuate the cult of domesticity. The blurred gender roles in the Gargery home cause Pip to have difficulty making decisions acceptable to bourgeois status quo, because the values he learns at home vary significantly from societal ideals.

 

Pip himself uses physical descriptions of his parent figures to show Mrs. Joe as masculine and Joe as feminine. Catherine Waters points out that Pip's descriptions of Joe and Mrs. Joe's physical appearances echo in his fancied perceptions of his parents, but the similarities cross gender lines. From the writing on his gravestone, Pip perceives his father as"square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair" (23; ch. 1). Similarly, Pip reports Mrs. Joe as having "black hair and eyes" (28; ch. 1).Pip infers his mother's appearance from her gravestone as well: "from the turn of the inscription ... I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly" (23; ch. 1). Joe, although not freckled, has light skin with features far more feminine than Mrs. Joe's: "Joe was a fair man, with curls of flaxen hair on each side of his smooth face, and with eyes of such a very undecided blue" (28; ch. 1). Pip's physical description of all these parent figures reveals the ambivalent gender identities in the Gargery home. Joe's physical appearance seems more feminine, and he is much more nurturing than Mrs. Joe, who is described in terms similar to Pip's deceased father.

 

Mrs. Joe is described in some masculine ways, but her behavior is the most significant indicator of her desire not to be...

Find Another Essay On Gender Roles in Great Expectations

Themes in Great Expectations Essay

713 words - 3 pages Great Expectations, a novel published by Charles Dickens in 1862, is about a young boy named Pip who explores the differences between divisions of each social class. He starts at the very bottom as a common young boy, then he inherits a large amount of money and slowly starts climbing his way up to the top of the social pyramid. This change in social status brought change to his personality also. He went from being a caring gentlemen, to a

Herbert in Great Expectations Essay

1175 words - 5 pages The only real gentleman in Great Expectations is Herbert. Write an essay arguing either for or against this point of view using quotations to support your arguments. The only real gentleman in Great Expectations is Herbert. Write an essay arguing either for or against this point of view using quotations to support your arguments. You should look at other characters, for example, Pip, Joe, Drummle and Compeyson. You will need to define

Gender Roles in China

1001 words - 4 pages For a country which has thousands of years of history, China, like majority society in the world, still remains some kind of patriarchy and it is continuously affecting the gender roles in China and all around the world. As a person who born and raise in China, I evidenced how gender roles alter with the development of China. Gender Roles in Early China (From Han Dynasty to Republic of China) There is no doubt that males have a very dominant

Gender Roles in Shakespeare

1777 words - 7 pages ;                        outside the borders of their assigned gender roles--Rosalind, Portia, Viola--who generate the greatest theatrical and critical interest. Elizabethan society had a loosely determined set of normal behaviors that are frequently linked to gender. Despite diffusion of these gender expectations in both time

Gender Roles in Mulan

979 words - 4 pages and safe. Overall, the Disney movie, Mulan, demonstrates gender roles, socialization of gender roles, and consequences of breaking the gender roles. By Mulan going to war for her father, in China, many things were at risk, life, honor, and the country of China, itself. Displaying the characteristics a man had was the only way for Mulan to survive, granted, she was not great at displaying woman characteristics in the first place. Being caught in

Gender Roles in Society

1184 words - 5 pages Gender Roles in Society Gender role is a commonly discussed subject in society. Gender role simply defined is a person's inner sense of how a male or female should feel and behave. Society and culture are also very important in relation to this subject. This means different societies and cultures may produce children and later, grown men and women, who have quite different views of a man or a woman's place in the world around them, often

Gender Roles in Society

1025 words - 4 pages Gender Roles in Society Suggested roles of all types set the stage for how human beings perceive their life should be. Gender roles are one of the most dangerous roles that society faces today. With all of the controversy applied to male vs. female dominance in households, and in the workplace, there seems to be an argument either way. In the essay, “Men as Success Objects”, the author Warren Farrell explains this threat of society as a

Gender Roles In Relationships

1117 words - 4 pages in the relationship and the women is supposed to be passiveand go with the flow. In today's society, these gender roles don't necessarily fit. Womenare more likely to take control when need be, whereas back then, all decisions were madeby the man. Back then, chauvinistic behavior was eccepted as the norm. Men werestronger, more capable then women. Relationships are much more equal now. If thewoman wants to do something then the man will support

Gender Roles in Advertising

724 words - 3 pages looks. Men are commonly portrayed as a symbol of power and bravery, while women as powerless and pursuing sex appeal. Some of these advertisements may contain explicit content referencing gender roles, which are commonly expected by society.   Gender roles are the expectations of how a person should dress, act, and talk based on their sex. Women, for example, are expected to do the housework and take care of the children, while men are the providers

Gender Roles in Television

1012 words - 4 pages traditional gender roles in American culture today by, both, redefining and reinforcing them over the course of the show. In "Big Baby," the thirteenth episode of the current season, the show highlights these gender roles by centering on the effects the recent adoption of Rachel has had on Dr. Lisa Cuddy — the hospital administrator and House's boss — and her relationships with those around her. Cuddy and Maternity At the outset, it is

Gender roles in Cinderella

1611 words - 6 pages tales are obligated to behave in a certain manner to preserve herself, as traditionally the feminine has less power than the masculine. Thus, the heroines behave a certain way because of her relationship to the masculine. It is clear that the stories we remember best are the ones instilled in our minds at the early, most-influential stage in our lives. To help in the battle against inequality, we must first address these tales passed down from generation to generation and note the effects on gender roles and expectations.

Similar Essays

Gender Roles In The Roaring 1920s: An Examination Of The Women Of The Great Gatsby

2258 words - 9 pages publication of this novel May of 1919. The women of this era had recently acquired a voice in politics, however, the social world does not always take the same pace as the political world. F. Scott Fitzgerald developed female characters that represented both women in their typical gender roles and their modern counterparts. I will be analyzing gender roles within the context of this novel, comparing and contrasting Myrtle Wilson, Jordan Baker, and Daisy

The Great Depression´S Impact On Gender Roles

1715 words - 7 pages Lisa Cianciulli November 12th, 2013 The Great Depression’s Impact on Gender Roles Change and hardship go hand in hand, because when hard times emerge society is forced to change. During the Great Depression the idea of gender roles stirred up a great deal of controversy but it also opened the door for change. It gave society a push into a new direction. In order to survive, a number of people had to move away from their traditional way of

Feminism In Great Expectations Essay

1148 words - 5 pages Feminism in Great Expectations Biddy as the Anti-Feminist Feminine Ideal Charles Dickens’ portrayal of the female gender in the novel Great Expectations is generally one of disdain. Pip typically encounters women who are mean-spirited, self-centered, and unsympathetic. Throughout the novel Pip is in conflict with women who treat him poorly. He is the subject of Mrs. Joe’s tyrant-like upbringing “by hand.” He is the tool of Ms

Friendship In Great Expectations Essay

896 words - 4 pages As one of the most read books, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens gives something intriguing to all types of readers. Adventure, love, and knowledge can all be found in this diverse book. Along with the appeal to different genres, Great Expectations teaches countless life lessons on several topics. Dickens presents friendship as one of the major themes in his novel. True friendship displays itself through words. Pip lived quite an