Role of Women in Literature

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Role of Women in Literature

By | October 1999
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The Representation of Women in Literature

The role of women in society is constantly questioned and for centuries women have struggled to find their place in a world that is predominantly male oriented. Literature provides a window into the lives, thoughts and actions of women during certain periods of time in a fictitious form, yet often truthful in many ways. Ernest Hemmingway's "Hills like White Elephants", D.H. Lawrence's "The Horse Dealers Daughter" and William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" each paint a picture of a woman who has failed to break away from her male companion, all describing a stereotypically dominated woman. Through submissive natures, compliant attitudes, and shattered egos the three women each struggle to live their lives in accordance to men, using only silent means of escape.

In Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" we are introduced to Jig. Jig is a woman who lacks the ability to make decisions without constant approval and recognition from a man who has impregnated her but who would rather she aborts the baby. Jig, unfortunately, cannot make decisions on her own, which is exemplified throughout the story, depicting her weak and dependent personality. "What should we drink?" From the opening line of the story we are introduced to a character that questions rather than acts. Someone who is unsure of not only herself but the relationship she is involved in. Though a simple question about what beverage to order can often appear courteous, this is only the first of many examples pertaining to Jig's inability to live her life as an individual. Later she questions her purpose in life, "That's all we do isn't it-look at things and try new drinks?", asking her companion to confirm for her what the meaning of her life is. By doing this Hemingway succeededs in creating a character who cannot be respected but is instead pitied. In a discussion, with her American lover, Jig comments about the hills surrounding them,...

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