Mary Pipher, author of the book Reviving Ophelia, has made many observations concerning young adolescent girls in our society. She wrote this book in 1994, roughly eleven years ago. Although some of her observations made in the past are not still accurate in today’s world, there are many that are still present in 2005. The primary focus of Pipher’s comments is to explain how young girls are no longer being protected within our society.
This female inferiority idea has been imbedded in the world for many years. Fairy tales are a very good example of how this notion has been present in the United States. The themes that exist in these stories normally deal with masculine heroes who come to the aid of young women who are seemingly helpless. After they are saved by these male heroes they become obedient docile beings. These old fairy tales are part of the beginning of this inferiority idea.
Another example of this actually was the inspiration for Mary Pipher’s book title. In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia was a young girl who was dominated and destroyed by the men in her life. She was treated poorly by her boyfriend, Hamlet. He was cruel to her, calling her names and completely ignoring her. Two other men in her life, King Claudius, and her father Polonius treated her as if she was a puppet. The two used her to trick Hamlet so they could find out what Hamlet’s problem was. Throughout the entire story she has no purpose other than for the approval of these three males. These efforts to please these three men cause her to go crazy with grief. Eventually, she drowns herself in a pond.
One thing that Pipher describes is how girls’ views change as they enter adolescence. Lots of girls bury their childhood, and submissively enter adult existence. These girls who are becoming young women, according to Pipher, stop thinking. The main focus on their minds is, “What must I do to please others?” This thought is true to a certain extent in some young girls. It is true that many of the things that some girls do are solely for the purpose of living up to a societal expectation. Many of the beauty magazines portray images of supermodels; something that young girls may interpret as what the society expects. Also, all of the television and movie actors are very pretty, and many young girls are dying to fill out that expectation that seems to have been set for them. Although it seems clear that not everyone has “movie star good looks”, this idea can be hard for a young immature mind to grasp.