Fate And Feminism
In both Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw and The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan, the reader is pushed to understand the nature of feminists in a new way. This purpose is carried out with the use of multiple feminist characters, a drastic change in a characters outlook on their situation, and the concept of making your own destiny. The
protagonists in both of these literary works is female, and they are amazingly similar considering Shaw wrote Pygmalion eighty seven years before The Kitchen God's Wife was published in 1991.
Both of these works use several feminist characters to help the reader understand the theme. At the start of Pygmalion, Liza is 'quite a common girl' (35, Shaw) and Higgins treats her as if she is a new toy. He degrades her, calls her 'horribly dirty' (40, Shaw) and a 'draggletailed guttersnipe'. Once he decides that he wants to play, once Colonel Pickering offers to pay for all of the expenses on a bet, he tells Mrs. Pearce to 'take her away and clean her' (41, Shaw). Mrs Pearce often fights on Liza's behalf during the play, which teaches Liza how to stand up for herself as a lady would. Clara, a girl that Liza meets later in the play at Mrs. Higgins is also a feminist character. She tells her mother outright that she's too
'old-fashioned' (81, Shaw) and that 'nobody means anything by it' (81, Shaw) when they are using 'the new small talk' (80, Shaw).
In comparison, The Kitchen God's Wife contains three feminist characters. Winnie, the protagonist; her friend, Helen; and her cousin, Peanut. Winnie is a feminist right from the start of the novel, however she does not know how to express that. She feels that 'she was forgotten' (322, Tan) by everyone around her. Winnie is trapped by her family in a marriage that she is given no choice but to stick around. Helen is a feminist character because of her backgound. She grew up poor, and only married a pilot because he had inadvertently killed her sister, and felt guilty....
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