Gwen Harwood Gender Analysis

1097 words - 4 pages

Gwen Harwood: Gender Analysis The patriarchy of the society within the context of which poet Gwen Harwood constructed her poetry, is observed, sometimes criticized and often challenged in the collection of poems found in the text 'Gwen Harwood, Selected Poems'. The representation of the images of men, women and gender differences to which a society consciously or unconsciously subscribes are captured through her writings. Harwoods construction of the poems 'Prize Giving' and 'Night Thoughts: Baby & Demon' exemplify some of the techniques used by the poet in illustrating the tendency of society to categorize the roles and expectations of the male and female. In focusing on the egotistic values of the stereotypical male in 'Prize-Giving', Harwood draws on the self-destruction of Eisenbarts character and the reversal of roles and possession of power to accentuate societys conditioning and subscription of the male and female gender. In the poem 'Night Thoughts: Baby & Demon', the reader is positioned to automatically associate the baby to the ignorant, undemanding, innocent female, and the clever, deceitful demon and dominating persona to the male. These assumptions are presented as society's unconscious way of assigning roles and expectations to each gender.In 'Prize-Giving' the arrogance and self-importance of the central character, Professor Eisenbart, illuminates the distinction and 'hierarchy' of which males are heralds of in a patriarchal society. When asked to attend a girl schools award ceremony as an 'honoured guest' the professor 'rudely declined; but from indifference agreed, when pressed with dry scholastic jokes, to change his mind, to grace their humble platform'.The utilization of submissive language in describing the female gender mirrors the powerful, assertive words in describing the Professor. By placing the male gender on a higher grounding, this represents the way in which the patriarchal society favours this gender over the disempowered and ignorant female.The use of metaphor in placing the headmistress and the girls in the same levels as birds and insects suggest the deprivation of the female gender in equating them to less than human. The presentation of these 'airy' movements prove contrast to the 'Rodin's Thinker' of the Professor. Again the association of the male to sophistication and confidence shine through in the patriarchal culture constructed, reinforcing the marginalism of the female. By presenting such contrasting concepts of both genders, the poet exhibits the way society consciously and sometimes unconsciously constructs the privileging of the male.In representing the dichotomy of arts and science as typical of each gender, the poem deals with the academic and logical resident of the male in opposition to the passionate 'whimsicality; of the female. The empowerment of usually hidden traits in society such as music and femininity enforce a ridiculed reading of the stereotypical male, Eisenbart. In his...

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