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Treatment of Women in Jack Kerouac’s On The Road

The Treatment of Women in On The Road

The women in Jack Kerouac’s On The Road were, it seems, not afforded the same depth in character which the author gave the men. The treatment of the women characters in both word and action by Sal and Dean seems to show that women could only be a virgin/mother figure or a whore. Throughout the novel there are many instances in which women and their feelings or actions are either referred to flippantly or blatantly degraded. It can be said, however, that Sal (Kerouac) did not necessarily agree with this narrow female identity, and there is evidence to support this claim. The novel also shows though that Sal did participate in this male forced female stereotyping whether he wanted to or not. This is not to say that Sal (Kerouac) is necessarily malicious in his treatment of women but more possibly he is merely acting in accordance with the way he was raised and the way in which society treated women at the time. In effect while Sal and the novel may try to make points against the poor treatment of women, on the whole the novel tends to reinforce the sexist male domination at the time. The novel, on a certain level endorses the narrow female identity and the virgin/whore dichotomy contained therein, while at the same time attempting unsuccessfully to rise above the limited female identity.

Women play a key role in this novel in many ways. In the case of…

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…el, it is there as a reflection of his belief system and the attitudes of the time.

Works Cited Page

Bartlett, Lee. The Beats: Essays in Criticism. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. 1981.

Cassady, Carolyn. Heartbeat: My Life With Jack and Neal. Berkeley: Creative Arts Books Company. 1976.

Cassady, Neal. “Letter to Jack Kerouac.” March 7, 1947.

Challis, Chris. Quest For Kerouac. London: Faber and Faber Limited. 1984.

Dardess, George. “The Delicate Dynamics of Friendship: A Reconsideration of Kerouac’s On The Road.” American Literature. v46: 200-206. 1974.

Kerouac, Jack. On The Road. New York: Penguin Books Limited. 1955.

Watson, Steven. The Birth of The Beat Generation. New York:

Indecision, Hesitation and Delay in Shakespeare’s Hamlet – Excessive Hesitation and Delay?

Hamlet – the Hesitation and Indecision

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet presents a hero who hesitates to avenge his dead father when given the opportunity – what should be his judgment? This paper examines the decision from various points of view.

Mark Rose, in “Reforming the Role,” comments on how the hero’s hesitation to kill at the propitious moment, coupled with his later hasty decision to kill, have left the protagonist a changed man:

[. . .] the prince who returns from sea is a changed man, resigned, detached, perhaps “tragically illuminated.” Having refused to kill the king when the time was every way propitious – that is, when he found Claudius kneeling in empty not genuine prayer – and then, having chosen his own moment to act only to find that instead of the king he has murdered Polonius, Hamlet seems to have allowed his sinews to relax. He has let himself be thrust aboard ship, let himself in effect be cast onto the sea of fortune that is so common an image in Shakespeare and the Elizabethan poets, an image recalling that “sea of troubles” against which he had earlier taken arms. When the opportunity to escape the king’s trap arises, Hamlet seizes it, leaping aboard the pirate ship, but what he is doing now is reacting to circumstances rather than trying to dominate them wholly. (126-27)

Is there a connection between verbal hesitation and hesitation in action and decisions? Lawrence Danson in the essay “Tragic Alphabet” discusses the hesitation in action by the hero; this is related to his hesitation in speech:

To speak or act in a world where all speech and action are equivocal seeming is, for Hamlet, both perilous and demeaning, a kind of whoring.

The whole vexed qu…

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…g.” Modern Critical Interpretations: Hamlet. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. Rpt. from Tragic Form in Shakespeare. N.p.: Princeton University Press, 1972.

Rose, Mark. “Reforming the Role.” Modern Critical Interpretations: Hamlet. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. Rpt. from Homer to Brecht: The European Epic and Dramatic Traditions. Ed. Michael Seidel and Edward Mendelson. N.p.: Yale University Press, 1977.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995.

West, Rebecca. “A Court and World Infected by the Disease of Corruption.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from The Court and the Castle. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1957.

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