The short story “The Five-Forty-Eight” by John Cheever concerns the issue of a woman scorned by the inhumane treatment she has received by men, most notably that of Blake, whose oppression serves as the turning point in her life. This generalization is often the focus of a feminist criticism. Feminists believe that women should have equal rights as men, and they seek to “correct or supplement what they regard as a predominantly male-dominated critical perspective with a feminist consciousness” (Meyer 2014). In this short story, using a feminist consciousness to read the text helps to understand the reasoning behind Miss Dent’s need to defeat the idea that males dominate over women. Miss Dent, who has been trodden on for so long, finally takes action against Blake who represents all of the men in her life who have mistreated her.
Miss Dent is an insecure woman who has been abused and mistreated her whole life, especially by Blake. The literary critic Patrick Meanor says that “the icy and detached Mr. Blake has absolutely no natural feelings for others, especially for pathetic, wounded souls such as Miss Dent, a name that symbolizes her damaged emotional condition” (92) Critics characterize Blake as the lowest of men because of the inhumane way he treats women. The worst example of Blake’s maltreatment of Miss Dent is the scene in which the two sleep together in Miss Dent’s apartment. Miss Dent leaves to put something more comfortable on while Blake urges her on because “that was, after all, what he had come for” (81). Blake purposely accompanies Miss Dent into her home just to have sex with her. Under the impression that Blake has a genuine interest in her, Miss Dent allows Blak…
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…like before when Miss Dent had no self-esteem or confidence, now she has some control over her life and is a stronger person for it.
In “The Five-Forty-Eight,” Miss Dent has prevailed in her attempt to set right the wrongs done to her and other women by men like Blake. Through a feminist’s view, women in history have been considered inferior to men. Blake assumes that because he is a man, he has the right to abuse women and take advantage of them. Miss Dent does not let herself become another victim, rather she successfully takes control of her life.
Cheever, John. “The Five-Forty-Eight” An Introduction to Fiction (7th edition), eds. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia, Longman, 1999
Meanor, Patrick. John Cheever Revisited. New York: Twayne, 1995.
Meyer, Liz. Feminist Consciousness and Feminist Research. London: Routledge
Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken – The Ambiguous Road
The Very Ambiguous Road Not Taken
Donald J. Greiner states, “In the years since his death, biographical revelations and critical appraisals have torn off the mask to expose a Frost the public never knew: a flawed man with more than his share of personal tragedy, a major poet with more than his share of fear”(95). Many people consider Robert Frost to be a great poet with many accomplishments. His work is well known throughout Europe and the United States; however, most people do not know the kind of life Frost led. On the surface, Frost seems to be a skilled writer filled with ambition and determination, yet, on the inside, he is a man constantly tormented by a haunting past and many unknown tragedies. Frost often conveys his feelings in his poetry; thus, just as Frost’s life has an underlying meaning, so do many of his poems. Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is a poem that is often studied on its obvious surface level; however, the poem is actually very ambiguous in its underlying meaning.
Because the speaker in Frost’s work can only take one path, he will never know what the other path holds for him. In the beginning of the work, the speaker states, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, /And sorry I could not travel both” (1-2). This statement supports the fact that the speaker realizes he can not take both paths; therefore, he can never know what each path has to offer him. The speaker often refers to the fact that he wishes to be able to explore both paths. When the traveler says he “kept the first for another day!” (13), he means that one day he intends to come back to the road he did not take and see what he missed. Supporting this fact, the speaker also declares that “knowing how way leads to way, /[he] doubted …
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… way this experience has affected his life.
Like a façade, sometimes the surface structure of a poem can be very misleading, and, periodically, one must look deeper into the work in order to grasp its true meaning. Often simple words and phrases are the key to understanding a poem so traditionally studied with one meaning attached to it. As stated before, Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is a poem frequently studied with a traditional insight; however, analyzed and critiqued at a different level this work is actually very ambiguous. Works Cited
Frost, Robert. “The Road Not Taken.” The North Introduction To Literature. 6th ed. Eds. Carl E.Bain, Jerome Beaty, and J. Paul Hunter. New York: W.W Norton, 1995. 1097.
Greiner, Donald J. “Robert Frost.” Dictionary of Literary Biography. 3rd ed. Ed. Peter Quartermain. Vol.54. Detroit: Gale, 1987. 93-121.