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Feminist Lense

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Mackenzie Bullock

on 13 January 2015

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Transcript of Feminist Lense

The Feminist Approach applied to Medea
Medea is a Feminist Heroine
Medea does what she wants and plans and does not care about the opinion of society on her actions, she is strong and powerful, protecting Jason, which can be seen as male characteristics, while she is also very emotional and acts based on her feelings towards her children and Jason
However she also lives in a society where without a husband she is nothing and all of her property goes to him
Because Medea “wins” in the end, by destroying Jason and escaping, the novel could be seen as feminist that is making the point that women should fight for their beliefs and not allow men to get rid of them once they are tired of them
The feminist lense believes that Medea’s actions are justified and that she is being strong and showing Jason her independence, and that Jason did not actually want to marry the king’s daughter for her son’s sake, but for his own personal gain

Feminist Critical Approach Definition
In literature, the feminist lens focuses on and looks for the ways the oppression of women are emphasized or belittled because of their economic, social, and psychological states. This criticism tries to expose the prejudice against women found in literature and other works.
Examples from Previous Readings
Jane Eyre:
Set in the 19th century patriarchal society of England, women are expected to be submissive to the man
Jane faces the constant struggle of loving Rochester for who he is, while also trying to maintain her independence as a woman in this Rochester-dominated society
In a way, Rochester impedes Jane’s growth as an independent and liberated woman, once he falls in love with her and threatens the equality between them
Eventually, Jane builds up the courage, even though she is a woman, to leave Thornfield and make something of herself in what is like her quest to self-discovery
Jane also defies male dominance with St. John and his insisting of her becoming his missionary wife to India, when she straight-forward refuses
Although Jane ultimately returns to Rochester at the very end, that does not make her a weak or foolish woman. She actually did gain her independence through clarity of what she really wants and needs in life
Historical Waves
First Wave of Feminism (late 1700s--early 1900s): Writers begin to stress the lack of equality between males and females in their works. During this time period, activists influence the women’s suffrage movement, leading to National Universal Suffrage. In 1920, the Constitution granted American women the right to vote with the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment, thanks to the help of the feminist taking a stand.
Second Wave of Feminism (early 1960s--late 1970s): In 1966, the National Organization for Women was established to encourage feminist political activism. Activists worked to improve working conditions for women in America during World War II.
Third Wave of Feminism (early 1990s--present): Feminists are still working to improve the lives of women today. They continue to promote the importance of women in our society and the value of their work and contribution to our world. During this wave, feminists challenge the over-emphasis of the upper middle-class white woman.
Examples from our reading continued
Wide Sargasso Sea:
Rhys follows Antoinette, who struggles in a male-dominated society and tries making something out of the situation she is in, despite her depression
Antoinette descends into madness as she lives longer and longer with Rochester
In contrast to Jane, Antoinette is constantly suspicious and questioning of following any type of spiritual guidance or connection with God, which inhibits her from being able to attain any sort of independence and liberation from Rochester
Background and Major Proponents
Some of the earliest feminist writers are Christine de Pizan (15th century), Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, Modesta di Pozzo di Forzi (16th Century), Anne Bradstreet and Francois Poullain de la Barre (17th Century)
Some of the many feminist in history who have fought for equality for women and their works include: Marry Ellman- Thinking about Women, Mary Wollstonecraft- A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Elaine Showalter- A Literature of Their Own & “Toward a Feminist Poetics,” Alice Walker- In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens, and Susan Gubar and Sandra Gilbert- The Madwoman in the Attic.
Elaine Showalter created gynocriticism, which examines female writers and their impact on literary history, female characters in books written by males and females, and looks to correct and create a new female literary tradition
The Feminist Critical Approach
Examples Continued:
Quiz Time!
1. What does the feminist lense look for in literature?
2. How do Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea approach feminism in different ways?
3. What is the feminist lense trying to expose?
4. True/False: The Nineteenth Amendment was part of the second wave of feminism.
5. Name two feminist we mentioned
6. What is gynocriticism?
7. What’s one thing Medea does that makes her a feminist, or that a feminist would support?
1. The feminist lense looks for the ways the oppression of women are emphasized or belittled because of their economic, social, and psychological states.
Jane Eyre
shows a woman’s rising above a society’s standards and norms through gaining autonomy and through faith.
Wide Sargasso Sea
follows a woman’s struggle in a male-dominated society, who eventually is left constrained within a man’s rules, and kills herself because of the pain and torture it brings her
3. The lense is trying to expose the prejudice against women found in literature and other works.
4. False; it was part of the first wave of feminism
5. Christine de Pizan, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, Modesta di Pozzo di Forzi, Anne Bradstreet, Francois Poullain de la Barre, Marry Ellman, Mary Wollstonecraft-, Elaine Showalter, or Alice Walker
6. an examination of female writers and their impact on literary history, female characters in books written by males and females, and looks to correct and create a new female literary tradition
7. Answers will vary
Through the centuries, feminism has transformed and evolved into a theme that has become vital to consider in literary works.The feminist lense is important to literature because it goes deeper into the analysis of gender roles and highlights the oppression of women in many literary works. It also finds power in female roles, including Medea.
Works Cited
Another modern example:
Appleman, Deborah. "The Feminist Lens." (n.d.): 1-4. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. <https://edgewoodmedia.wikispaces.com/file/view/FeministLens.pdf>
Brizee, Allen, and Case J. Tompkins. "Feminist Criticism (1960s-present)." Purdue Owl. N.p., 21 Oct. 2004. Web. 20 Dec. 2014. <https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/11/>
"Feminist Literary Criticism." Princeton University. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2015. <http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Feminist_literary_criticism.html>.
Hawthorn, Kirsty. "A Feminist Reading of Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea." Kirsty Hawthorn. N.p., 16 Feb. 2013. Web. 9 Jan. 2015. <https://kirstyahawthorn.wordpress.com/literature/a-feminist-reading-of-jane-eyre-and-wide-sargasso-sea/>.
"History and Theory of Feminism." Gender and Water in Central Asia. Scientific-Information Center ICWC, n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2015. <http://www.gender.cawater-info.net/knowledge_base/rubricator/feminism_e.htm>.
O'Connor, Kate. "Feminist Approaches to Literature." Feminist Approaches to Literature. University of Oxford, n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2015. <http://writersinspire.org/content/feminist-approaches-literature>.
Norouzalibeik, Vahid D. "Medea." Vahid NAB. N.p., 30 Sept. 2007. Web. 11 Jan. 2015. <http://www.vahidnab.com/medea.htm>
Not only do the women of the post-Civil War era (1860s) in this society face the struggle of being women, they are also black, and have to face the harsh past of slavery and its dehumanizing aspects
Also, Sethe is a completely independent woman who makes her own choices of who she wants to be with, like with Paul D
Although this patriarchal figure comes into Sethe’s and Denver’s life, he never really dominates over them. Sethe clearly establishes her own boundaries and does not let anyone other than her own self, bring her down
Sethe’s eyes full of iron show her strength and passion as a woman and as a mother and this theme becomes so prevalent in the novel that we even forget about the father and just see Sethe as this dynamic female character who embodies so many things
Denver, as well, can be seen as portraying a strong female, as she ultimately goes out into the community and reaches for help and eventually even gets a job
While this novel is not centrally feminist, that sense of of feminism aids in building the female characters and contributes to the overarching theme
By Mackenzie Bullock, Camille Doria, & Vijit Yadav
Through the feminist lense we can see how Medea is portrayed to be weak, because she is so reliant on Jason, while simultaneously being a powerful woman because she is courageous enough to stand up for what she believes in.
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