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Feminist Ideals in Woman on the Edge of Time

Feminist Ideals in Woman on the Edge of Time

Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time is a dichotomy of two worlds: one utopic and one distopic. Although the world of the future is utopic in many senses, e.g. Marxist, environmentalist, etc., Piercy seems to especially focus on feminist issues. The two main characters, Connie and Luciente, are both women, and are both products of their respective societies. It is through these two characters that Piercy reveals not only extrinsic societal features, but also those that are only apparent in the bearing they have on individual social character. As both characters are women (by Piercy’s choice), it is not odd that Piercy focuses on female issues. Piercy uses the two women as windows to a feminist utopia and a feminist distopia.

Connie’s world, our own world, is the distopia. Women, as a social group, are subjugated. All of the women we see in the present are weak and must rely on men, who, with the exception of skip (who is homosexual), seem to be in positions of power. Dolly relies heavily upon Geraldo and later Vic, although they do absolutely for her, and Luis signs Connie into the mental institution. The existence of traditional gender roles stifles the characters further. Women are exploited; Dolly is a prostitute and Connie becomes a lab experiment. In the opening scene of the book we find Connie in her apartment which only consists of two rooms: a bedroom and a kitchen, the traditional “places for women” where men exploit them. The fact that Connie used to be a secretary, who was seduced, and now does cleaning jobs only reinforces the idea of subjugation. For feminists, women are/were a type of “proletariat.” Piercy seems to echo this idea by having one of Connie’s …

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…sacred and they would not consider it expendable, even for equality. To put it another way, many feminist do not think it is necessary to sacrifice it. Piercy also frees women of the burdens of children and family, yet many feminists would hardly consider these things to be burdens. Although Piercy definitely gives us a utopia, it is only one version. Connie herself questions whether or not some aspects, e.g. birthing machines, of Luciente’s world are actually better. As we question the future world, we must also consider our world. How true or representative is Connie’s situation. Certainly these things happen, but is this world the distopia for every modern women? This work bleeds idealism and ideology. This marks Woman on the Edge of Time as a feminist novel – fasure!

Works Cited:

Piercy, Marge Woman on the Edge of TimeFawcett Crest: New York 1976.

Essay on the Character of Mademoiselle Reisz in The Awakening

The Character of Mademoiselle Reisz in The Awakening

“The very first chords which Mademoiselle Reisz struck upon the piano sent a keen tremor down Mrs. Pontellier’s spinal column. It was not the first time she had heard an artist at the piano. Perhaps it was the first time she was ready, perhaps the first time her being was tempered to take an impress of the abiding truth.” (26) Madam Reisz was a predominant factor in the life of Edna, compelling her to arouse her courage and supplying her with the proper motivation to do so. She was admired by Edna, impelled to be an artist by her. Madam Reisz, in response, also portrayed a considerable amount of gratitude towards Edna and her “awakening”: “You are the only one worth playing for. those others, Bah!” (26) Madam Reisz had a profound influence upon the lifestyle of Edna, along with supplying a pillar for moral support.

Madam Reisz influenced the existence of Edna by acting as a form of sanctuary for her in which Edna would have to seek her when placed in a state of misfortune, or when being inundated with boredom. “It was during such a mood that Edna hunted up Mademoiselle Reisz.” (58) When Edna returns to the city, she is dominated by the premonition to seek Mademoiselle Reisz, yet the purpose is indistinct. By seeking madam’s residence Edna is supplied with two factors of appeasement that are able to suppress her boredom: Robert’s letter’s, and Reisz’s music: ‘The shadows deepened in the little room. The music grew strange and fantastic, turbulent, insistent, plaintive, and soft with entreaty. The shadows grew deeper. The music filled the room. It floated out upon the night over the housetops, the crescent of the river, losing itself in the silence of the uppe…

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…to earth.” (83) Reisz discerns that Edna is pursuing a path that no other individual has showed the audacity to in the past, and she must remain morally strong in order to avoid a futile conclusion to this journey.

The influence of Madam Reisz upon Edna is present throughout their confrontations. The Madam is one of the only characters in the novel that possesses the ability to perceive Edna’s true character, not the superficial image that she shows in public in front of shallow characters such as Madam Ratignolle. Reisz inspried Edna to such an extent in which her influence was recalled before her death. Edna, when transgressing the borderlines of society, swimming without acknowledgment of her physical state, recalls Reisz, stating, “And you call yourself an artist! What pretensions, Madam! The artist must possess the courageous soul that dares and defies.” (116)

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