Comparative Study of the Woman’s Authority in Death and the Maiden and as I Lay Dying

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A Comparative Study of the Woman’s Authority in Death and The Maiden and As I Lay Dying. World Lit Paper Two- Diana Macuil
The female role is much emphasized throughout literature. Some find this role to be weak, and characterize her to be naïve yet others portray her to be bold yet delicate. These two works are different since one is a play and the other a novel, which provides insight to how important the female role. In Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden, Paulina is a survivor of Pinochet’s regime and torture. She then takes matters into her own hands when it comes to trusting men and her own safety, her recognition of Dr. Miranda and his kidnapping shows how dominant the female role becomes. In William Faulkner’s gothic fiction, As I Lay Dying, the different characters thoughts and interactions show how Addie Bundren was separate from other women. The examination of the female role set in different places and with a different historical context is important because it provides insight to how the female role has changed worldwide. Women today are more independent and have more rights.

The female role throughout time has been portrayed as the submissive gender. Certain cultures have labeled female characters to be not only delicate but to be controlled by men. Today, they have more rights and opportunities that come about different individual struggles and experiences. With these experiences, authority has become one of the strongest characteristics they posses. Two works of literature that show how experiences change a woman are Death and the Maiden by Ariel Dorfman and As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. In Death and the Maiden Dorfman shows how Paulina’s torture changes her perspective of men and take matters into her own hands when she recognizes her torturer. William Faulkner’s, As I Lay Dying, has many perspectives as it is told from different characters, yet their view on Addie Bundren portrays her to be independent.

In Act I of Death and the Maiden Dorfman initiates the play with directly stating what kind of character Paulina is. “The sound of a faraway car can be heard. She hurriedly stands up, goes to the other room, looks out the window. The car brakes, its motor still running, the lights blasting her. She goes to the sideboard, takes out a gun, stops when the motor is turned off…” (Dorfman,2). The stage directions show how cautious she has become, not paranoid, but cautious. Dorfman creates a picture of a woman who is prepared for whatever might come, even if she fights alone. Paulina is characterized to be very bold with her husband, the dialogue interchanged between them shows how direct and at level she is with him. “PAULINA: I don’t see what you have to think over. You’ve made your decision, Gerardo, you know you have. It’s what you’ve been working for all these years, why pretend that…GERARDO: Because first—first you have you say yes. PAULINA: Well then: yes. GERARDO: That’s not the yes I need. PAULINA: It’s the only yes I’ve got” (5). She talks back to her husband something that is uncommon even outlawed in certain countries and certain in cultures, separating herself from the usual role woman are supposed to play.

In Scene 2 of Act I, Dorfman creates a different atmosphere with Roberto Miranda’s entrance. “ROBERTO (laughing): All too well. The last mystery. We are going to explore all the frontiers, my friend, and we still have that unpredictable female soul. You know what Nietzsche once wrote—at least I think it was Nietzsche? That we can never entirely possess that female soul. Or maybe it wasn’t him. Though you can be sure that old Nietzsche would have if he’d found himself on a weekend road without a jack” (9). Dorfman’s inclusion of this quote is outstanding because it indirectly shows one of his views of women. Nietzsche’s quote states how the woman soul is unreachable and separate. The fact that no one can possess it depicts how independent and...
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