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A Critical Lens for Emily

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"A Critical Lens for Emily"

"An allegorical title; the meaning was, here was a woman who has had a tragedy, an irrevocable tragedy and nothing could be done about it, and I pitied her and this was a salute ... to a woman you would hand a rose."- William Faulkner. This passage was quoted by the creator of "A Rose for Emily, this story tells of Emily Grierson a bold independent, women who was in words a feminist of sorts. She depended on no one and was often considered reclusive type women who kept to herself much of her life. Emily represents an archetype of an older time when southern aristocratic ways were still viewed as the way things were, and was often perceived to be haughty and aloof. In the end of the story it is discovered that those emotions previously conveyed to everyone who knew Emily Grierson were far from expected.

This behavior of treating men and everyone for that matter embodies what the definition of feminism is. William Shakespeare's, "Othello", the story of strong militaristic man who treated his wife Desdemona as a trophy instead of an equal. Even if she showed a desire to be a part of the journeys and tales he regaled Desdemona with, to win her affection. She sought independence and freedom to be like any man. Just like Emily Grierson. Or another Shakespeare masterpiece Hamlet the conflicted prince dealing with his father's death, treats Ophelia the women who stood by his side with contempt driving her to madness and tells her "Get Thee to a Nunnery". There is obviously a vast trend occurring in Shakespeare's writing where women are shown with contempt and malice, this was also in a period of time when women were viewed as inferior to men. America has since amended the constitution allowing women vote and run for political positions, thanks to a women name Betsy Ross. This is not just a slandering of men and how horribly they have treated women because women now have the opportunity to change their own fate and create their own futures. Shakespeare also has many stories and plays that also have women influencing his stories such as Macbeth. Lady Macbeth evil as she was she gets a high five from feminist's because all though she manipulated and schemed her way to royalty controlling Macbeth like a puppet. The average feminist could see that not even her husband had control over her she was the most independent women of all. Not to mention the three witches who strove to make men's lives a living hell in Macbeth. There are so many examples of feminism subliminally put in literature, not just of women being against men but also women controlling men such as Macbeth. A Rose for Emily might seem at first the story of a crazy old women, but infect it is the story of a crazy old independent lady who refused to conform to the new society norms she was, who she wanted to be and no man no matter how much she loved him was going to change that. Just like Lady Macbeth or the three witches.

Desdemona was so awe stricken by Othello's tales of battle and faraway places that she often wished that she could herself be a man. Looking from a feminist perspective, Othello in this extract establishes the traditional male gender identity of the strong militaristic Macho man, and of the submissive, emotional woman. He states that he won Desdemona because of his manly exploits. Desdemona confirms this when she says: "... To his honors and valiant parts did I my soul and fortunes consecrate? (10). Desdemona is also portrayed in the previous extract as highly emotional, and this is again shown in Othello's line: "she gave my pains a world of sighs (7). Where Desdemona is said to cry at: "Some distressful stroke that my youth suffered (7). Looking from a critical feminist position, this portrayal of women as emotional is relevant to the modern reader as it reinforces stereotypical gender identities. However, looking at later scenes such as the Scene with Emilia and Desdemona talking about infidelity, and the death scene, these gender identities are challenged by Emilia, and then the consequences of relying on these gender identities becomes apparent. The opening scene also establishes the existence of a traditional patriarchal society, and later action in the play highlights the flaws in this society. This patriarchy where women are seen more as objects than as people is particularly evident in the language of men. There is a variety of circumstances in Othello that a feminist could take in any direction to prove that literature can have many distinct perspectives.



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