On May 24, 1933, a role model, advocate for women’s rights, and a literary star was born. Marian Engel was born in Toronto, Ontario, to a single eighteen year old girl, and put up for adoption. Frederick Searle and Mary Elizabeth (Fletcher) Passmore adopted a beautiful baby named Ruth, who they renamed Marian. Marian spent her younger years growing up in a variety of towns across Southern Ontario as her family moved frequently for her father’s work. Engel began her education at Sarnia Collegiate Institute & Technical School in Sarnia, Ontario, and later continued on to complete a Bachelor of Arts at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. She graduated from McMaster in 1955 and without hesitation, enrolled in a Master’s program for Canadian Literature at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. Marian was a powerful activist for women’s rights over the years, writing books, short stories, and sharing her experiences with all who would engage. Her evident determination to succeed was first noted at the young age of ten, when her mother told her that the profession of writing was “very hard” and Marian Engel responded to her by saying, “I don’t care.” Marian grew into a strong woman, who was passionately dedicated to her work. She wrote many short stories, and novels that clearly depicted the social justice issues prevalent during her lifetime, specifically the oppression and victimization of women.
Engel’s unconditional support of the women’s rights movement during the 1970’s is clearly portrayed in her short story Anita’s Dance. In the 1970’s the women’s rights movement was quickly gaining ground as women began to be granted job positions which had been predominantly male roles, and were no longer confined to a life of dreary domesticity, this is reflected in the way Anita is living, and her general thoughts on the idea of living as a mother and house wife. Anita is a well-educated, self-supportive woman who rejects the male ideals of being a dainty, do-nothing house wife. The history of feminism has been divided into three distinct waves, and the second wave has been identified as taking place from the 1960’s to the mid-1990’s. The second wave was a frenzy of sexual and reproductive rights being established, and a massive rise in divorce rates. Education became readily available and widely accepted as a path for both men and women during that time, and Anita takes advantage of the opportunity. Anita goes to university and pursues her dreams of educating herself, as opposed to “settling down”. “She had wanted to study literature but on practical grounds had chosen economics instead.” This quote is significant because it highlights how serious women were about becoming properly educated and qualified for good work. Economics qualifications would increase the chances of Anita getting a good, well-paying job; literature would limit the chance of success for Anita in her career. This is because despite the growth in support of the women’s rights movement, a male was still far more likely to get his works published, whereas it was significantly harder for women. It is important to note that the author herself had qualifications in literature and the fact that Anita sees it as impractical is likely a reflection of the struggle Marian faced in her career. Once again, it is an area where although things were generally moving forward, some were moving at much too slow a pace. Regardless of the fact that the movement had made significant strides over the years, there always seems to be the people who prefer to be set in their ways. The audience is introduced to an ill-mannered, condescending pig named Jack, who unfortunately for Anita, is her younger brother. Jack comes around, asking for money and a means of transportation, as well as bearing heavy news about one of Anita’s older sisters. Her sister Lanie has fallen ill, and as Jack breaks the news to Anita, he also feels the need to add that she should probably take care of...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document