An Analysis of John Berger's Article Ways of Seeing

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Erin Swanson
Amanda Zoch
English 131-17495
28 August 2012
A Different View
In his essay, “Ways of Seeing”, John Berger discusses how women are seen differently then men. He describes that a woman views herself in two ways, as the surveyed and as the surveyor (Berger 4). Women are always aware of how they look as well as how others see her, especially men. Berger states that men act and women appear, simplifying the idea that a woman’s actions depict how a man treats her (Berger 5).

Berger uses European paintings to prove his argument. In those paintings, nude women were popular subjects. Typically, the artist was a male, who used the woman as an object. The woman would know that she was being watched and that was often portrayed in the painting. Berger explained this as a way for the woman to offer herself to the man, giving him social power (Berger 6).

In his essay, Berger explains the difference between naked and nude. He describes nakedness as simply the state of having no clothes on and nudity as a form of artistic representation (Berger 7). He goes into further detail by explaining that nakedness is just being you whereas being nude is being without clothes for the purpose of being looked at. The mirror is often used a symbol of self-vanity. Most people use mirrors as a way to look at themselves and get ready. But Berger explains the mirror as a tool for a woman to treat her self as a sight (Berger 6). In concluding “Ways of Seeing”, Berger states that nude European paintings were typically painted and owned by men, while the women were treated as objects. The spectator is just assumed to be a male and the woman is designed to flatter him.

Berger, John. "Ways of Seeing." Readings for Analytical Writing. Boston: Bedford/St.Martins, 2011. 4-7. Print.
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