Last updated: September 12, 2019
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Dominated Society Essay, Research Paper

The function of the female in male dominated societies is a prevailing subject in American literature and has been explored by infinite writers. Edith Wharton, in The House of Mirth, and Zora Neale Hurston, in Their Eyess Were Watching God, are merely two of the many who examine this issue in their literary plants. Although the novels were published over 30 old ages apart, and speak of adult females of distinguishable civilizations and societies, each writer uses her novel to do a societal commentary on the effects of the social regulations and outlooks of patriarchal civilizations toward adult females. As is clear after an scrutiny of the supporters in each novel, the effects of such regulations depend upon the manner in which one approaches them. Although both adult females are so burdened by the regulations of society, Wharton & # 8217 ; s Lily Bart abides by the outlooks placed upon her and is finally destroyed by them, while Hurston & # 8217 ; s Janie is able to lift above and prevail over premises sing proper behaviour for adult females.

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The outlooks of adult females in patriarchal civilizations are apparent in the early pages of Their Eyes Were Watching God as Janie & # 8217 ; s grandma, Nanny Crawford, arranges the matrimony of her grand-daughter to Logan Killicks, the respectable husbandman who will supply and care for her. Nanny reminds the loath Janie that she & # 8220 ; ain & # 8217 ; t got cipher but me. And mah caput is ole and atilt towards de grave. Neither can you stand entirely by yo & # 8217 ; self & # 8221 ; ( Hurston 15 ) . It is clear that the common belief is that as a adult female, Janie will be unable to care and supply for herself and Nanny sees matrimonies as the lone manner out for Janie, her opportunity to get away poorness and sit on a & # 8220 ; high place. & # 8221 ; While Janie does yield to her grandma & # 8217 ; s wants, she is cognizant that this relationship is non the loving matrimony she has envisioned, and asserts these sentiments when she proclaims, & # 8220 ; Ah ain & # 8217 ; t takin & # 8217 ; dat ole land tuh bosom neither. Ah could throw 10 estates of it over de fencing and ne’er look back to see where it fell. Ah feel the same manner & # 8217 ; bout Mr. Killicks excessively. Some folks was ne’er meant to be loved, and he & # 8217 ; s one of & # 8216 ; em & # 8221 ; ( Hurston 23 ) . Janie knows that this relationship will non convey her felicity, and she looks frontward to happening romantic love.

Soon after her matrimony to Logan Killicks, Janie meets Joe Starks, and believes that she has found that love affair that she has been seeking for. Starks promises to carry through her dreams, to demo her & # 8220 ; what it was to be treated lak a lady & # 8221 ; ( Hurston 29 ) . Janie knows full good that go forthing her hubby to run off with a alien will be looked upon unfavourably by society, but she does merely that, and does non even bother to disassociate her current hubby before she leaves. Janie rejects the values of her grandma and defies the regulations of society in order to prosecute her ain felicity. Soon, nevertheless, Janie learns that Joe views her simply as his trophy, as nil more than the Mayor & # 8217 ; s beautiful married woman. After old ages of digesting abuses about her intelligence and her aging visual aspect, Janie decides to strike back.

Naw, Ah ain & # 8217 ; t no immature gal no minute & # 8217 ; , but den Ah ain & # 8217 ; t no old adult female neither. Ah reckon Ah looks mah age excessively. But Ah & # 8217 ; m more adult female every inch of me, and Ah know it. Dat & # 8217 ; s uh whole batch more & # 8217 ; n you kin state. You big-bellies round here and set out a log of crow, but & # 8217 ; tain & # 8217 ; t nothin & # 8217 ; to it but yo & # 8217 ; large voice. Humph! Talkin & # 8217 ; bout me lookin & # 8217 ; old! When you pull down yo & # 8217 ; britches, you look lak de alteration uh life ( Hurston 79 ) .

Janie refuses to be soundless, to play the function of duteous married woman, and actively opposes her destiny. After he is publically shamed, Joe takes ailment and passes off. Following his decease Janie one time once more defies social outlooks with her brief bereavement over the loss of her hubby. & # 8220 ; Ah aint & # 8217 ; grievin & # 8217 ; so why do Ah hafta mourn, & # 8221 ; she inquiries, and begins to fall in love with Tea Cake ( Hurston 113 ) .

Her relationship with Tea Cake, a adult male much younger and in a much less stable fiscal state of affairs than herself, is yet another case in which Janie defies the regulations of society in the pursuit for her ain felicity. The matrimony Janie and Tea Cake is met with much disapproval, as the townspeople believe that Tea Cake is merely interested in her money. After a warning from her friend and intimate, Phoeby, Janie declares

Naw, Pheoby, Tea Cake ain & # 8217 ; t draggin & # 8217 ; me off nowhere Ah don & # 8217 ; t want tuh go. Ah ever did desire tuh rotter unit of ammunition uh whole pile, but Jody wouldn & # 8217 ; t & # 8216 ; low me tuh. When Ah wasn & # 8217 ; T in de shop he wanted me tuh jes sit wid folded custodies and sit dere. And Ah & # 8217 ; d sit dere wid de walls creepin & # 8217 ; up on me and squeezin & # 8217 ; all de life outa me. Pheoby, dese educated adult females got a whole pile of things to sit down and

see. Person done tole ‘em what to put down for. Cipher ain’t told hapless me, so sittin’ still worries me. Ah wants tuh use maself all over ( Hurston 112 ) .

Rather than follow the regulations of society, Janie follows her bosom in what proves to be a successful effort to happen true felicity with Tea Cake. Despite his eventual tragic decease, Janie has no declinations about her relationship with Tea Cake. Despite the forces working against her, Janie finds true love in a adult male looked down upon by the people around her.

Following the decease of her 3rd hubby, Janie & # 8217 ; s strength and independency from social outlooks are farther reinforced. As she walks back through the town that she left merely two old ages earlier, adult females sitting upon their porches remark upon her overalls and do & # 8220 ; firing statements with inquiries, and killing tools out of laughs, & # 8221 ; but Janie does non concern herself with the people of the town ( Hurston 2 ) . Janie neglects conventional values and aspirations, and in making so finds true felicity with Tea Cake.

Much like Janie, Lily Bart in The House of Mirth feels great force per unit area, from her female parent and from others around her, to get married a affluent adult male who can back up her and maintain her out of & # 8220 ; dinginess. & # 8221 ; However, while Janie is able to keep on to her romantic vision of a loving matrimony, Lily seldom entertains impressions of get marrieding based upon fancy for or devotedness to another. Lily & # 8217 ; s desire to get married for fiscal support and stableness mirrors the outlooks placed upon her by society. While Janie is loath to get married Logan Killicks because there is no love between them, Lily is unwilling to get married any adult male who can non be of usage to her in the chase of the wealth that will convey her the higher societal position that she desires.

In order to accomplish this end, Lily relies wholly upon her beauty, and becomes progressively concerned with and consumed by the care of her physical visual aspect. Throughout the novel, Lily is highly witting of how she is perceived by others, and continually strives to show herself in a mode that is socially acceptable to those of the upper categories. Upon go forthing the flat of Lawrence Selden after a friendly visit, Lily & # 8220 ; paused to look about her. There were a 1000 opportunities to one against her meeting anybody, but one could ne’er state, and she ever paid for her rare injudiciousnesss by a violent reaction of prudence & # 8221 ; ( Wharton 15 ) . As she departs from the edifice, Lily encounters Simon Rosedale, and feels as though she must lie to him about the nature of her visit to the Bene*censored* , subsequently brooding upon the fact that he & # 8220 ; was still at a phase in his societal acclivity when it was of importance to bring forth & # 8221 ; favourable feelings ( Wharton 17 ) . The fact that Lily worries about how she will be perceived after such an guiltless visit with a friend is declarative of her intense concern with her visual aspect and the manner in which she is perceived by society.

Unlike Janie, who is able to disregard the remarks and inquiries about her, Lily & # 8217 ; s really being is based upon avoiding unfavourable comments so that she will be able to get married a affluent adult male. The annihilating effects of negative societal perceptual experiences are apparent when Lily proposes matrimony to Rosedale at the terminal of the novel. He is unwilling to take her as his married woman and provinces, & # 8220 ; I know the quickest manner to thwart yourself with the right people is to be seen with the incorrect 1s & # 8221 ; ( Wharton 249 ) . The illation is that Lily, as a consequence of the incident with Mr. Dorset, has become socially unacceptable for matrimony. As this his been the focal point of her full life, Lily is devastated by this glance into the world of what is being said about her in the public sphere. Whereas Janie is able to boom in malice of negative perceptual experiences, Lily is destructed by the regulations of society that she strives so diligently to adhere to.

The chief characters of both novels, Their Eyess Were Watching God, and The House of Mirth, are introduced to common ideals early in their lives, viz. that a adult female must get married a successful and respectable adult male in order to procure her hereafter good being. Likewise, both adult females are capable to the regulations of their societies. Yet while Janie is able to overlook the remarks about her and happen the love affair she desires, Lily is of all time witting of how she is perceived by others and is ne’er able to endeavor for true felicity. As a consequence, Lily becomes a victim of cultural regulations and outlooks, while Janie victory and rises above them.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyess Were Watching God. New York: Perennial Classicss,

1998.

Wharton, Edith. The House of Mirth. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.