In their book The Madwoman in the Attic, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar address the issue of literary potential for women in a world shaped by and for men. Specifically, Gilbert and Gubar are concerned with the nineteenth century woman and how her role was based on her association with the symbols of angels, monsters, or sometimes both. Because the role of angel was ideally passive and the role of monster was naturally evil, both limited a woman’s behavior into quiet content, with few words to object.
Women in the nineteenth century, Gilbert and Gubar claim, lived quiet and passive lives, embodying the ideals of the “Eternal Feminine” vision in Goethe’s Faust. Passivity led to a belief that women were more spiritual than men, meant to contemplate rather than act. “It is just because women are defined as wholly passive, completely void of generative power that they become numinous to male artists,” they write on page 599. It was this celestial quality that separated them from earthly men capable of lives of action, and thus, capable of handling the pen. Lives without action, of course, were hardly worth recording, so the passive woman had no story to tell, no book to write. According to our two authors, a woman without her own story became an angel in the house, one who heard others’ stories but never told her own. Women were encouraged to live along these descriptions, to be the eternal silent feminine, content only in pleasing society instead of herself. “For in the metaphysical emptiness their ‘purity’ signifies they are, of course, self-less,” write Gilbert and Gubar on page 599.
As self-less beings, women were left without voices, destined to a life…
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…s like Irene and Clare is crucial in discovering our power to transcend beyond the discrimination of the society we live in, creating literature that helps change culture for the better. Only when we recognize the struggle between angel and monster can we free ourselves from both.
Fetterly, Judith. “On the Politics of Literature.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. Edited by Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, Mass: Blackwell Publishers Inc. 1998.
Gilbert, Sandra, and Susan Gubar. “The Madwoman in the Attic.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. Edited by Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, Mass: Blackwell Publishers Inc. 1998.
Larsen, Nella. Passing. New York, NY: Penguin Books: 1997.
Said, Edward. “Orientalism.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. Edited by Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, Mass: Blackwell Publishers Inc. 1998.
charhf Character in Huckleberry Finn
The Importance of Character in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain’s novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of the world’s most acclaimed books. Twain accomplishes this with his extraordinary power of humor, his use of dialect, and by creating complex and unique characters. Developing his characters is one of the greatest assets he has in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. A character that exemplifies this most is Huck Finn, first appearing as rouge, but later transforming into a character with high moral values.
Early on in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, we see Huck as a rogue figure. He jokes about killing people, and he insists that it must be fun. The idea of a gang seems good to Huck and all the other boys, so they all decide to “take an oath and write [their] name in blood” (Twain, 9). All of them are now part of this vicious gang and swear “to kill the families of boys that told secrets” (Twain, 9). The whole idea of doing things that are written about in books excites Huck, so he sticks with this plan and follows Tom; that is, until he gets on the river.
On the river, Huck and Jim are free of the society that binds them. Jim is free and does not bear any of the prejudices of the world that plague him on the shore, says Ben Christensen. Jim does not have to live in fear of being beaten for being himself and he does not have to worry about being called stupid. Also, he says that Huck is allowed to think for himself here — unshaped by the thoughts of society. He is always saying how Jim does not act like any other black he had been told about. Huck’s morality prevails on the river (Christensen).
There are many spots on the river where Huck…
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…oke can hurt no matter what race a person is. Huck knows the difference between right and wrong and knows to stay away from wrong. Huck also knows the importance of friendship and is willing to go to Hell to preserve the friendship between himself and Jim. Even though he does not show his moral traits, Huck is a moral character whether he likes it or not.
Christensen, Ben. Huck Finn’s Contention With The Values Of Society. Online. February, 1995: http://internet.ocii.com/~benjc/essay/english/huckfinn.html.
Pain, Albert. Huck Finn Comes into His Own. Online. 1999: http://marktain.miningco.com/library/biography/bl_paine_ch153.htm.
Rasmussen, Kent. Mark Twain A to Z: The Essential Reference to his life and Writings. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1995.
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York: Bantam Books, 1884.