God of Small Things

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Boundaries and Transgression
These texts explore the position of women in modern post-colonial settings where they are influenced by both traditional and ‘modern’ values which often results in various forms of oppression and abuse. How do the authors’ explore these issues?

Boundaries and transgression relates to the pervasive limitations and rules imposed through a system of social conformity and the oppressive restrictions that those social parameters impress upon society. It is through these rules and parameters that the relationship between the individual and society can diverge into binary oppositions. Emerging from these oppositions is the struggle between unique individual beliefs and the standardised institutions which are recognised as acceptable. Consequently a transgression occurs, breaking through either traditional or modern values towards personal ideals of worth, freedom, love and happiness. The text The God of Small Things (1997) by Arundhati Roy captures this transgression through the social constructs of the 1960’s post-colonial Indian context, female under patriarchal suppression and the defiance of stereotypical gender roles. The movie The Piano, directed by Jane Campion in 1993, also illustrates this notion through an 1800’s post-colonial Victorian context by addressing the voicelessness of women, the nature of love and the portrayal of marriage. Both addressing the conflict between modern and traditional values, the two texts explore the concepts of boundaries and transgression as they demonstrate the ways in which an individual’s conflicting values can violate the boundaries of society, how social conformity mars this desire and the consequences of social disobedience.

Throughout history the pervasive nature of patriarchal authority has engendered the subjugation of women in society, enforcing stereotypical gender expectations such as submissiveness, powerlessness and victimisation. It is these...
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