The Feminist Perspective - Weebly

The Feminist Perspective - Weebly

The Feminist Perspective Frailty, thy name is woman! What is feminism? Feminism is the drive to achieve rights and equality for women in social, political and economic life. Feminism is not necessarily anti-men, but is against sexism: the beliefs and practices which structure and maintain the subordination and

oppression of women. Feminism reveals and challenges the cultural shaping of gender roles in all social institutions: the family, work, politics, religion, and, of course, in literature and drama (Rex Gibson) What does a Feminist Perspective attempt to do? Women are oppressed by patriarchy economically, politically, socially, and psychologically; patriarchal ideology is the primary means by which they are kept soIn every domain where patriarchy reigns, woman is other: she is marginalized, defined only by her difference from male norms and values (Tyson, cited by Brizee and Tompkins)

Feminist criticism attempts to expose the shortcomings of patriarchal ideology in addressing the experience of women: how they think and act (Gibson) All feminist activity, including feminist theory and literary criticism, has as its ultimate goal to change the world by prompting gender equality (Tyson, cited by Brizee and Tompkins) The crux of the matter

There were no feminists in Shakespeares time Feminists really only started to actively challenge the patriarchal system in the late 1700s (Brizee and Tompkins) So, how can we as 21st century readers consider the females point of view and draw meaning from the text as it relates to gender? How do we challenge the male interpretation of the text?

Some questions to ponder in feminist criticism: How is the relationship between men and women portrayed? What are the power relationships between men and women (or characters assuming male/female roles)?

How are male and female roles defined? What constitutes masculinity and femininity? How do characters embody these traits? What does the work reveal about the operations (economically, politically, socially, or psychologically) of patriarchy? What does the work imply about the possibilities of sisterhood as a mode of resisting patriarchy? What does the work say about women's creativity? What does the history of the work's reception by the public and by the critics tell us about the operation of patriarchy? (Brizee and Tompkins) The Issue in Hamlet: Hamlets misogynistic attitude toward

his girlfriend, Ophelia, and his mother, Gertrude, may have seemed perfectly reasonable to Shakespeares original audience. But what are we to make of it today? (Margaret Jane Kidnie, University of Western Ontario, 2008) So what does a feminist reading of Hamlet look like?

Some feminists readings will say Shakespeare supports male domination: In Elizabethan England, Hamlets harsh attitudes towards women are typical Women were seen as weak and in need of mens protection Therefore, we need to read the text in historical context Other critics will argue:

Shakespeare was ahead of his time and actually created strong female characters, if we just look closely enough to discover them (Kidnie) Maybe Shakespeare was genuinely alert to the female experience (Gibson) maybe we just need to read between the lines and fill in the gaps with our own politics and perspectives (Kidnie) Others still will say:

Shakespeares plays express the realities of limited female power in Elizabethan England But they also express the potential for female freedom and equality (Gibson) Or. Shakespeare was just simply sexist and we shouldnt read his plays at all A feminist reading.

Will consider the historical context Perhaps read against the grain or against the Elizabethan audiences interpretation of female characters (Kidnie) Sources: Brizee, Allen, and J. Case Tompkins. Feminist Criticism (1960s to Present).

Owl Purdue Online Writing Lab. Gibson, Rex. Teaching Shakespeare. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. 1998. Print. Kidnie, Margaret Jane. Their Name is Woman. Teaching Shakespeare. Stratford Shakespeare Festival, 2008.

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