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Jeanette Winterson's Written On The Body And Caryl Churchill's Cloud Nine

3320 words - 13 pages

Jeanette Winterson's Written on the Body and Caryl Churchill's Cloud Nine

In Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body and Caryl Churchill’s Cloud Nine differences between male and female roles in society become distinct. Through these differences, an intricate web of male and female characters seems to be woven, and we can see the clarity between gender roles. With the support of Churchill’s Cloud Nine by Jeffrey Barber, “You see, I am no stranger to love”: Jeanette Winterson and the Extasy of the Word by Celia Shiffer, and “Body Languages: Scientific and Aesthetic Discourses in Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body,” the idea of love and gender roles present in Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body and Caryl Churchill’s Cloud Nine become alive, and we see how these characters both form to and break from their assigned roles. The roles of the characters are exemplified by distinct differences between the genders through the presence of love and gender stereotypes, the dominant idea of nature, and the struggle between male and female characters with specific reference to sexual relationships and marriage.

Gender stereotypes seem characteristic in both Written on the Body and Cloud Nine. Clearly the women are expected to be submissive, while the men are to be assertive. The first time we see the idea of these gender stereotypes in Cloud Nine is with Edward and his sister Victoria’s doll. Dolls are clearly not toys for boys; they are only for little girls. And so, when Edward is caught playing with the doll, his father and mother show disappointment in him because it is not proper for a boy to play with a doll. Edward gives the doll up unwillingly. The second time Edward is caught playing with the doll Betty says “Edward, I’ve told you before, dolls are for girls” (Churchill 30) to prove that there are specific boundaries between the roles of boys and girls, even when it comes to their toys. There are certain toys thought of as being for girls, and there are certain toys thought of as being for boys, and at this point in time, it is not right or understandable for a boy to cross this line, and to play with a girls toy. Even at the young age of nine-years-old there are specific stereotypes that are expected of young children.

This idea is furthermore conveyed when Betty says, “I live for Clive. The whole aim of my life is to be what he looks for in a wife. I am a man’s creation as you see, And what men want is what I want to be” (Churchill 1). Betty says that she lives for him, clearly she is yielding to the gender stereotypes of putting the needs of her husband before the needs of herself. From this statement we can also deduce that Clive understands his masculine role as husband “through his understanding of duty. The duty is one authority over the wife and overseer of her service to her husband. He speaks of his wife as, “all I dreamt a wife should be” (Churchill 1) and has selected a woman who serves his desires and...

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