Gender and Genre in Short Fiction

Topics: Short story, Fiction, Edgar Allan Poe Pages: 6 (1941 words) Published: September 2, 2008
Gender and Genre in Short Fiction

Assessment 2

Analytical Essay

What are some of the pleasures of reading a short story? To what extent are those pleasures influenced and affected by issues of gender in terms of the reader, the author, and the stories themselves?

What are some of the pleasures of reading a short story? To what extent are those pleasures influenced and affected by issues of gender in terms of the reader, the author, and the stories themselves?

The joy of the Short Story dates back to the time of oral tradition. Aboriginal folklore tells of stories handed down from generation to generation since the dreamtime. These are the origins short stories although technically they became short stories when written down. “Egyptian papyri, dating from 3000 to 4000 BC., reveal how the sons of Cheops regaled their father narrative.”

The Old Testament has countless short stories originally part of oral tradition, such as Adam and Eve, Samson and Delilah, Noah and the Great Flood, and Jonah and the whale. These short stories entertained, educated and engaged and still do so even to this day. These short stories were written down roughly between 1000BC to 100BC and were written in Hebrew and Aramaic. J. M. Bickham in “Writing the Short Story A Hands- On Program" states that to qualify as a short story, the tale must be committed to paper in an language others can understand” , so according to this it was not until this period of time that these ancient biblical tales could be construed as short stories.

Sampson and Delilah is the classic example of the female seductress bringing about the downfall of the innocent yet mighty man. “danger and betrayal emanate from the city and are most often manifested in an ambiguously attractive and dangerous woman who sets out to seduce the hero in order to prevent him from discovering that she is the murderess” Samson is largely blameless in the scheme of things falling victim to the charms of the beautiful Delilah, who has been bought by the chief of the Philistines: “Cajole him and find out where his great strength comes from, and how we can master him and bind him and reduce him to helplessness. In return we will each give you eleven hundred silver shekels.”

Gender is a very important aspect of this particular story because it creates the tension between the two lovers on the issue of trust “How can you say you love me when you do not trust me” Without the magic of the romance their would be no seduction and there would be no deception. Samson’s manhood is a key issue for once he had lost his strength it would seem that essentially he had lost his manhood. As per the stories of the time Samson (the male protagonist) finally gains revenge on those who have done him wrong through his final act on earth in bringing down the temple and reducing it to ruins and in turn “Those he killed at his death outnumbered those he had killed in his life”

The New Testament offers us the parables told by Jesus Christ as a means of conveying his message to his followers. Story telling has always been a powerful agent in society.

“The Greeks and Romans left us EPISODES and INCIDENTS in their early classics. In the Middle Ages the impulse to story telling manifested itself in FABLES and EPICS about beasts, and in the MEDIEVAL ROMANCE. In England, about 1250, some two hundred well-know TALES were collected in the Gesta Romanorum….the fourteenth century… Chaucer wrote his framework collection, The Canterbury Tales…In the eighteenth century came the NOVEL, growing out of the PICARESQUE NOVEL of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries… In the nineteenth century came Sir Walter Scott, Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe….With these writers the short story as a distinct literary GENRE came into being.”

Henry Lawson’s The Drover’s Wife is another example of Gender influenced writing focusing on the isolation, loneliness and the strength and...
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