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Feminism – literary theory . By Dani and Em. ‘The emotional, sexual, psychological stereotyping of females begins when the Doctor says ‘Its a girl’’ – Shirley Chisholm. Feminism.

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‘The emotional, sexual, psychological stereotyping of females begins when the Doctor says ‘Its a girl’’ – Shirley Chisholm

  • Wikipedia states that: Feminism refers to movements aimed at establishing and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights. Feminism is mainly focused on women's issues, but because feminism seeks gender equality, some feminists argue that men's liberation is therefore a necessary part of feminism, and that men are also harmed by sexism and gender roles.Feminists—that is, persons practicing feminism—can be persons of either sex.
  • However the definitions of gender and feminism have undergone significant changes since the early 1970’s
feminist literary theory
Feminist literary theory
  • The theory of feminism within a literary context is a complex dynamic area of study that draws from a wide range of critical theories including psychoanalysis, Marxism, Cultural materialism, anthropology and structuralism.
the four stages of feminist literary theory
The four stages of Feminist Literary theory.
  • An analysis of the representations of women in male-authored texts.

In Tess of the D'Urbervilles it has been clear since its publication in 1891 that Thomas Hardy himself somewhat idolizes his character Tess, he describes her as being a, ‘fine and handsome girl’ with ‘large innocent eyes’ and this goes on throughout the novel where it is clear from the narration the sympathy he has for her and the situation he has created.

the four stages of feminist literary theory1
The four stages of Feminist Literary theory.

2. ‘Gynocriticism’ a term coined by Elanie Showalter which refers to the study of women writers as a distinct literary tradition.

The collection of Carol Anne Duffy’s poems in Rapture shows ‘Duffy’s refusal to simplify the contradictions and transformations of love.’ Duffy stands out from women before her, becoming the first woman poet laureate in 2009 and also being homosexual drawing attention to the fact she stands apart from what is expected and achieved by women writers adding to the controversy of her work.

the four stages of feminist literary theory2
The four stages of Feminist Literary theory.

3. Gender studies – an analysis of all texts, even including those written by men, that highlights the fact they are all marked by gender.

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald chooses to present his female characters as still being somewhat trapped in their gender as Daisy is seen to be reliant on the protection and affection of men. Something that women at the time – 1920’s – where trying to prove they could live without. In the final chapter when Nick is asleep he dreams of a women who have been left by two men as she is drunk and tried to exploit her sexuality. The two men alienate her for attempting to step out of the norm.

the four stages of feminist literary theory3
The four stages of Feminist Literary theory.

4. Explorations of how racial, sexual and class differences among women extends through historical reading and writing.

This exploration is evident in both the Great Gatsby and Tess of the D'Urbervilles, although race isn't explored as much the class divisions and positions each is placed in defines who they are and their fate for the rest of the novel. Tess cannot change her life for she was born into a poor class and has loyalty to her family to help provide for them and their future. Daisy was born into a wealthy class and see’s this wealth as a support to her lifestyle. The two novels were written in different time periods yet both highlight the difficulty faced when it comes to their positions in society and their gender.