Critical Theory

Topics: Feminism, Feminist theory, Literary criticism Pages: 8 (2551 words) Published: January 2, 2013
Choose 2 theories from Semester 1 and highlight the advantages and disadvantages of the theories’ application.

In this essay two theories will be examined in regards to their advantages and disadvantages, when applied. For this, Feminism and Post-Colonialism will be used, as both theories unite in their aim to deconstruct the dominant ideologies and stereotypes in a patriarchal and imperialistic ‘white European male ’ dominated society, thus overthrowing centuries of colonization, subordination, marginalization and exploitation

Feminists seek to reconstruct decrepit ideas of femininity, and extinguish female oppression over the years. Feminist literary criticism, in the first and seconds waves, critique patriarchal language, by exposing how these reflect masculine ideology. It examines the gender politics and pre-conditioned, constructed sex role stereotypes, while making us aware of marginalizing, inequality and the underlying dominant discourse prevailing in literature as early as the tale of Adam and Eve. In short, Post Colonialism is the rebellion of a once colonized society. They reject conventional norms and study the political, socio economic and psychological effects of Europe’s domination. ‘’West Indian novelist George Lamming expresses in a personal manner the way in which ‘Eurocentric assumptions about race, nationality and literature return time and again to haunt the production of post- colonial writing’’- The Colonial Reader. Through the use of both theories, what are known as the classic ‘canonical’ texts. ie. Noun. a list of writings, esp. sacred writings, officially recognized as genuine – Collins dictionary (6) will be critically examined, to identify the advantages and disadvantages of both theories in application.

By challenging sex role stereotypes such critics have forced us to review the nature of our perceptions and in doing so effectively highlighted that gender is a social construct and did not develop inherently. Furthermore, they served as leaders in a generation of female oppression and sought to educate the masses about patriarchy and ultimately the subjective conditions that female writers were forced to express themselves under. A key theme in the literature is the suggestion that women write solely out of repressed emotions and this has served as a central obstacle in gaining credibility and overcoming male oppressors, For example, ‘The mad woman in the attic’ is a popular text in the literature as it provides clear insight into males essential image of women. This writing strives to redefine women’s constructed image, while rejecting the accepted canon and giving recognition to previously unacknowledged female writers. In this way, Post colonialists reject this idea of the Western colonized ‘white male’ canon. Bill Ashcroft writes ‘In the nature of things the work of a Western writer is automatically informed by universality. It is only others who must strain to achieve it.’ Ashcroft mocks European writers and their constructed ideas of great novels. He insults Charles Larsons intelligence in assuming a great novel can only be so if its location is America, or somewhere near, regarding the idea of location being a major aspect of the greatness of the novel as absurd. With these two theories in mind, a critique will be given to ‘Heart of Darkness’, by Joseph Conrad. In this novel of a voyage to Africa, we at first oversee Conrad’s pre-conceived notion of Africa as ‘A dark Continent’. Conrad views Africa as the unkown, ‘other’ and as a place of darkness, devoid of sophistication and civilization, deeming Africans as the incarnation of this nation of feral perdition. Marlow describes this as "a prehistoric earth" (Heart of Darkness 105), peopled with "the prehistoric man" (105), who only need to exchange "short, grunting phrases" (111) in order to settle a dispute. Sara Assad Nassab writes that Congo was the centre of Colonial separation and argues that any image of the...
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