Book Report on Reviving Ophelia by Dr. Pipher

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Reviving Ophelia
Dr. Pipher remembers her cousin Polly as a young girl. She describes her as energy in motion. A tomboy, Polly dances, plays sports with the neighborhood boys, and rides horses. Once Polly enters adolescence, however, other children begin teasing her about her tomboyish ways and insist that she be more ladylike. The boys exclude her from their activities, and the girls isolate her because she is different. Polly becomes confused and withdrawn. Later, Polly begins wearing stylish clothes and trying harder to fit in. She again becomes accepted and popular. Dr. Pipher feels that she is the only one saddened by Polly's transformation from force of nature to submissive follower. Dr. Pipher discusses Freud's analysis of girls in the latency period, the years between ages six or seven through puberty. She praises their ability to accomplish anything during this period because they are androgynous, neither masculine nor feminine. They can shrug off male and female stereotypes and just do whatever they want. Dr. Pipher explains the depiction of this phenomenon in fairy tales. She notes that young women eat poisoned apples or prick their fingers with poisoned needles and fall asleep for a hundred years. They have to be rescued by a prince in order to survive, and they emerge from the story with passive, docile personalities. She reflects on the character Ophelia from Shakespeare's Hamlet. And when Hamlet eventually rejects her for being obedient to her father, she goes insane.

Dr. Pipher describes adolescent girls as female impersonators whose mission in life is to please others. The pressure to become someone they are not angers them and makes them lash out at the adults in their lives. Popular culture forces them to assume both a true and a false self. They put their false self on display for the adults while they suppress their true selves. Dr. Pipher compares these girls to saplings in a hurricane. She lists three factors that...
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