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Literature and Gender

  • Date Submitted: 09/18/2012 10:12 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 40.2 
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Literature and Gender.
Women have constituted about half of humanity in all ages. Yet amazingly enough, the position of women in the patriarchal cultural matrix has never been equal to that of men. Women have been looked upon as inferior beings, subordinates in a totality where the two component parts – male and female – are necessary and complementary to each other. The relation of the two sexes has always been asymmetrical. The term man in general represents the all-embracing term Human. Man is positive as well as neutral. Woman, on the other hand, is someone who is not a man; she is something negative; she is person who is lacking in certain positive qualities - physical, moral and intellectual. This view has lasted till date down the ages, right from the ancient times. Womanhood has been seen as a disadvantage.   The Bible states that God created Eve for Adam, for his pleasure and to fill his loneliness. Aristotle said: 'we should regard female nature as afflicted with a natural defectiveness'. St. Thomas Aquinas, thinking along the same lines, called woman 'an imperfect man'. In Aeschylus's Oresteia Athena grants victory after Apollo's argument that the mother has no rights of parenthood on her child. This victory asserts the rule of male principles over the sensuality of the female Furies – in other words, the rule of patriarchy over matriarchy. In Medea, Euripides, however, invokes the lost voice of matriarchy through Medea, who challenges the Athenian cultural superiority by exposing the hollowness of male dominance, but in doing so has to inflict upon herself the tragic sacrifice of her own children. Milton’s conception of woman's status and capacities is found in Paradise Lost, Book IV. Adam and Eve are created: 'He for God only, she for God in him'. Eve calls Adam her 'author and disposer', whom she will obey 'unurged' as 'God ordains', for   'God is thy law, thou mine'. It is astonishing how woman's dependence has been thrust upon her by men and then...

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