Gender Roles: Then And Now Essay

1705 words - 7 pages

Indisputably, roles and characteristics of opposite genders have been ubiquitous, since historical evidence proves so – dating back to when the practice of oral tradition was favored over written language. This historical evidence is especially apparent in literature from previous time periods. In these works of literature, men and women often have very different social and economic positions within society. Particular duties, or tasks, are practiced depending on the gender of these individuals. However, in the advancing world we are currently living in, these duties are beginning to intertwine in an effort to allow equal rights amongst opposite genders. This effort to break the sexist barrier, which encompasses our world, has already begun rattling the chains of politicians and the like. However, with the progressions made thus far in retaliation to sexism and unequal gender privileges, the United States of America is heading in a positive direction towards gender equality. Nonetheless, the female gender is perceived as a lesser entity in society while the male gender is dominant and controlling. The masculine individuals in literary works usually govern, or direct the feminine individuals. These characteristics are often evident in various literary works – including “Hills Like White Elephants,” and “A&P” written by Ernest Hemingway and John Updike, respectively. The slow and steady transformation from a sexist society to one that allows inferior genders to perform similar tasks, if not the same as their superior counterparts, may disturb the ideological mindset of figures with authority; however, it provides inferior genders with the opportunity to branch out socially, economically, and politically.
The dramatic use of male dominance is imperative within patriarchal literature as it provides conflict with women, which is crucial for plot formation and development. Patriarchal literature does a great job of providing conflict, as there is an obvious contrast between the two genders involved: masculine and feminine. Masculinity is revered for its bravery, solidity, and domination. These three characteristics allow men to maintain a positive and influential manner, while women on the other hand stereotypically lack the positive attributes associated with masculinity. Women are perceived as emotional beings with submissive behavior in relation to men. These behaviors are most likely the reason why men are more socially, economically, and politically involved as opposed to women. “Hills Like White Elephants” and “A&P” make great use of the masculine and feminine stereotypes that we are all so familiar with. Dominance over the female characters is apparent throughout both literary works.
Although not blatantly stated, an abortion is the central theme between the American and Jig in “Hills Like White Elephants.” The American offers constant reassurance towards Jig and repeatedly explains that the operation is simple. In doing so, the reader can...

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