The Evolution of a Liberated Female
Isabel Allende’s novel, Daughter of Fortune is an account of a young female that is forced to confront and overcome her innermost sentiments. Eliza Sommers, Allende’s protagonist of the story, embarks on a quest from her home in Chile to San Francisco; she is demanded to defeat numerous gender obstacles and near death situations. Ultimately, Eliza’s journey symbolizes a woman’s transformation from naïve girlhood to cognizant adulthood while prevailing in a patriarchal society. At this time in South America, feminism was not common; men were, without exception, dominant in these countries. Eliza first encounters the restraints of being a woman in her home. Her adoptive mother, Rose, insists Eliza wears fancy clothes to impress her friends and maintain a societal stature. Tight corsets and stiff bodices were ideal garments for women of the nineteenth century because they accentuated feminine features. Small waists and pushed up breasts were artificial ideals used to attract men. These constraints imprisoned Eliza, along with the majority of women, both physically and mentally. Though Rose tries to make Eliza fit the ideal feminine mold, she remains unmarried because she is a lot freer as a single woman. In nineteenth century Chile, a married woman could not travel, sign legal documents, go to court, or sell or buy anything without her husband's permission. Rose gave up her love life as well as the possibility of having a child in order to receive these freedoms. From this example, Eliza
develops feminist attitudes and plans to live her life independently, but that predilection dissipates as she becomes pubescent. During Eliza’s puberty, Rose tells Eliza that men will now be able to do whatever they want with her. This statement distorts Eliza’s understanding of society; she now believes men can, and will control every aspect of her life, including her body. Eliza displays this corrupt feminine...
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