Implications Of Gender And Language, In Robert Jordan Wheel Of Time

1036 words - 5 pages


Beginning with, 1990's The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series of Fantasy novels has received critical acclaim not only for the complexity of the world he created, but also for his portrayal of strong female characters in a heavily matriarchal society. In' the village of Emmon's Field, Bran al"Vere is mayor, and the all-male Village Counsel acts, as a governing body. In general, however, it is the Women's Circle that makes decisions concerning the village, and Nynaeve al'Meara in particular, as Wisdom. Aiel, a desert dwelling warrior society, have similar style of rule: they have clan chiefs, but it is Wise Ones who are the ultimate authority. What sets theAiei apart is ...view middle of the document...

The White Tower has an entire "ajah" devoted to tracking men who can channel in order to "gentle" them, severing access to the One Power.
Though the Fantasy genre's standard influences of European culture and mythology are evident in Mr. Jordan's writings, he deviates from the norm by incorporating elements of Native American, African and Asian cultures as well. The One Power has two halves, male (saidin) and female (saidar), and the ancient symbol of the Aes Sedai is described as a circle, with one side white, the other black, much like the yin and yang seen today.
"Within a given culture, conversations rely on unspoken understandings.. .and a variety of subtle conventions." (Tannen). Language, both spoken and otherwise, plays an important role as well. Men are, routinely chastised as "woolheaded idiots" and threatened with switchings by women who, in other Fantasy series, would not be in positions of authority. Characters from cities refer to country folk by whatever their profession may have been. An all-male military organization devoted eradicating "shadowspawn", known as the Children of the Light, believe the Aes Sedai to be "witches" and thirst for the destruction of the White Tower; those who oppose the Children refer to them as "White Cloaks" for their battle livery. The descriptions used when saidin and saidar are channeled mirrors the personalities of the channelers: saidin
is described as a constant struggle to stay alive, rage, fury,"molten ice", while saidar, is
said to feel like a river ofpleasure. Women, when angry, routinely "plant fists on hips".
"Blood and ashes" is a rather nasty curse (curses ,are: called oaths), "Thank the Light" is akin to thanking God, as the Light represents the I Creator.
Parts of the Aiel speech patterns and behaviors are based in part on their desert origins in the "Aiel Waste" and adherence to "ji'e'toh", a complex honor system governing daily life and battlefield ethics. "May you always find water and shade" is used as a friendly parting...

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