Gender Typing in the Confessional Poetry of Judith Wright Judith Wright (1915-2000), a poet, an essayist, a short story writer, and an activist, represents her hardship, gender-awareness, protest against the imperial outlook of patriarchy and her typical attitude towards men in her confessional poetry. She is considered the best poet of Australia and is globally recognized for writing poetry in a confessional mode. The poet through her subjective voice portrays a collective condition of women of her society. In many of her poems, she unveils women’s sufferings which chiefly relate to male domination. She both explicitly and implicitly expresses her experiences in her poems. The poet analogizes herself sometimes with nature and sometimes with the vulnerable condition of the downtrodden people, especially the black. She does not come across any difference between the condition of women, and that of nature and of the black. For her, all are equally tortured and exploited by the socially benefited class. Her poetry is also the embodiment of her suffering, humiliation, deprivation, suppression and oppression, which are identical experiences of every woman of patriarchal society. Wright’s Childhood: A Period of Depression and Darkness Judith Wright for the first time became a victim of patriarchal favoritism at her home: “Family has always been the so called ‘feminine’ realm in the paternal colonial scenario of Australia where men are predominantly engaged in explorations and mastering of women” (Das Men 147).When she was two and a half years old, her younger brother was born and from his birth her position in the family became worthless. She says, “It was his arrival that first set me on the path out of Eden. Fair-haired, brown-eyed, happy and cooed over by everyone, while I was dark-haired, greenish-eyed and female, he had supplanted me” (Half a Lifetime 30). The scenario is not a new one in a male-dominated society: [T]he majority of parents wish to have sons rather than daughters. Boys are spoken to with more seriousness and more esteem, and more rights are granted them; they themselves treat girls with contempt, they play among themselves and exclude girls from their group, they insult them: they call them names like ‘piss pots’, thus evoking girls’ secret childhood humiliations. (Beauvoir 311)
She started writing poetry at the age of six to please and cheer her ever-ailing mother. She was encouraged to write poems by her mother, who was interested in her daughter’s poems thinking that they would lessen her illness. The poet was, however, disheartened, for her loving mother died during her childhood. The death of her mother came to her as a bolt from the blue. It brought her an unbearable hard time and at this point she felt completely alienated from the rest of the world. The poet felt guilty as she could not do anything to save her mother who died young, at the age of thirty-seven. Wright writes in her autobiography, Half a Lifetime: My mother’s death came when she was thirty-seven years old and I was eleven. … When at last she died – on a day I can never remember without a shudder for her – the end of my childhood was final. Apart from grief, I had guilt to contend with. I knew I had not been able to comfort her or help her through those dreadful days at all, though I was the eldest and the girl, facts always emphasized when I failed in my duties. … In that winter of her death, life had changed forever. (103-104) Wright felt abandoned after her mother’s death and it became quite a challenge for an eleven-year- old girl to survive and to continue her study, as the woman who cared for her, left her for good. In the above reference the clause “though I was the eldest and the girl” deserves our attention. The clause raises questions: Can’t a woman get help from the male members of a family? Is it the responsibility of a daughter only to help her mother when she is ill? The poet’s blame on herself delicately...
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