Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

The women come up in these texts.

The world is filled with humans, but the way women are portrayed in british literature has a great impact on many people’s view. Women can have many different parts, from just how they are treated to things like gender roles. The meaning of gender roles is “The role or behaviour learned by a person as appropriate to their gender, determined by the prevailing cultural norms” (Gender Role). Gender roles and overall how women are treated were a huge part of literature. From what women are allowed to do, to their everyday lives and how they couldn’t be part of many things. Women were known as someone else’s husband, not able to go out, and not allowed to be educated. With having many british literature topics and books, there are many ways in which women come up in these texts. Women are treated very differently in british literature, they have grown by having female writers change the way women are portrayed. British Literature has many sides, one would be women and how they are treated.   The depiction of women in literature through ages has not been the greatest. Women are seen as an object. Being an “object” is a material thing that can be seen and/or touched. A human/living person is very different, meaning that another person cannot just touch a person without permission. Also, meaning that you as a person have a purpose in life and is not just “an object”. Women in literature and in life have trouble with speaking out about problems. In british literature, if a women were to do anything wrong she would be in a lot of trouble, meanwhile a higher up man has more power and can get away with anything most of the time. One of these issues is that women do not having a voice. An example could be Shakespeare’s a play called Hamlet. In the play there are a large amount of gender and women’s rights problems. Most of Shakespeare’s plays have same type of gender/women’s rights problem.  The depiction of women in literature has always been the same, that the female stays home and cleans, when the male of the house is able to go out and learn/work. In Hamlet, 1.2.137-150, Hamlet is speaking to his Mother, “That it should come to this! But two months dead-nay,not so much, not two. So excellent a king, that was, to this Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother That he might not beteem the winds of heaven Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and Earth. Must I remember? why, she would hang on him As if increase of the appetite had grown By what it fed on. And yet, within a month (Let me not think on’t–Frailty, thy name is woman!–)” (Shakespeare 1.2.137-150). Gertrude’s marriage to Claudius has convinced Hamlet that women are untrustworthy, that their beauty is cover for deceit and sexual desire.  Hamlet starts talking about just his mother but in the end he is referring to all women. He states how all women are “frail”. Also says how he is disgusted by his mother’s sexual “appetite”. Speaking of women as an object, can also be found in The Last Duchess, “Though his fair daughter’s self; as I avowed At staring, is my object,.” (Browning).  The Duke is referring to his dead wife as an object. Women’s rights in british literature are shown as just being on the side of a male and doing what the male needs. Women’s rights around the 17th century and on have been simple but not equal to the male figure. Some of women’s rights would be “The right which God hath given, The right to comfort man on earth and smooth his path to heaven” (Hughes). This meaning that a women would just be there for the males uses. Their rights are to take care of their children and family, to cook and clean. Yes, these are not the worst rights, when you compare them to slavery, but that was not the point.  Taking care of the children and family was very important, however, women were not just made for that.  They are here to learn and go to school, work and earn money for their family too.  An example, in Hamlet 1.3.36-38, Laertes speaking: “Fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister, And keep you in the rear of your affection, Out of the shot and danger of desire.” Laertes warns his sister Ophelia about Hamlet and not to fall in love with him, becauses men like him always change their minds. Also Ophelia has carry on her family’s name in the proper way, which means she can not have a relationship with Hamlet, “My lord, he hath importuned me with love In honourable fashion” (Shakespeare 1.3.116-117). Ophelia telling her father that he has nothing to worry about. As can be seen in british literature, the author creates the characters and makes their story. The authors writings are mainly based on what they see and hear on an everyday basis to create a story. Out of the books and/or plays women were treated horribly and not equal to men. That is why women have the showing of not being equal or not being able to work and earn money for themselves. An example could be a short poem called “My Last Duchess”. The poem was written in the view of only the husband, in which he pointed out of all his wifes tramp like remarks and everything that she didn’t do right. In the poem, the Duke clearly considers his wife as an object, as noted in the poem “…and if she let Herself be lessoned so, nor plainely set Her wits to yours, forsooth and made excuse,  – E’en then would be stooping; and I choose Never to stoop.” (Browning). Take into consideration that this woman is dead and her husband has a painting of her that he will only show some people, he wants to show her off but only to some. The ending is that he ends up with another woman that is just an object to him. This showing that yes that was his wife but no he didn’t care or respect her at all, going back to women just being an “object”. “Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er She looked on, and her looks went everywhere” (Browning). The Duke is saying that she impressed other men and that she was always looking at other men and not just her husband.  All these examples,  showing how the writer portrays the women in the poem, beneath in education and stature, in comparison to the male.   Throughout the years gender roles in british literature, from marriage and sexuality to education and rights have been the same.  Men just saw women as a person to stay at home, cook and clean. They were not given the opportunity to be educated and therefore their opinion didn’t count. Meaning that women would only have few rights and unequal roles compared to men.  If they did work, the jobs they held were not professional. Hughes wrote, “Wives, daughters and sisters were left at home all day to oversee the domestic duties that were increasingly carried out by servants” (Hughes). The men go out to learn, get jobs, when the women are to stay home. Inequality is see in Hamlet , when Ophelia states, “I shall the effect of this good lesson keep…And recks not his own rede.” (Shakespeare 1.3.48-54).  Women then didn’t have a voice, for them to speak up no one knew how others would respond. All women overall in the whole world have had problems with women’s rights. Most women would prefer to be respected and treated like someone and not something. As many know Shakespeare is one of the biggest anthors out there, his books are all around the world and will never be forgotten. Plays like Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, show this problem with women’s rights. For example, Hamlet there is the conflict with how Polonius treats his kids differently because of their gender. “Yet here Laertes? Aboard, aboard, for shame!…Farewell. My blessing season this in thee!” (Shakespeare 1.111.59-85). Polonius talks to his son, Laertes giving tips on how he should be living is life. Meanwhile, Ophelia has to follow every rule to her father’s says. Also, in Romeo and Juliet there is same gender roles that are not treated right, like “‘Tis true, and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are thrust to the wall” (Shakespeare 1.1.16-17). This showing that many just assume that women are the weaker ones. In Shakespeare’s time women were considered the weaker sex and always need to be protected. A big thing that they would do in Shakespeare play is “cross-casting” or another word would be breeches role, meaning that women characters would be played by male characters. In many plays in shakespeare’s time, if the play needed a women actor, they would have a boy, normally a younger man with a higher pitched voice would take that spot. This really kept the women not involved with the outside world. Women were unable to do anything really out of the house. It wasn’t until the mid 1600’s (about 44 years after Shakespeare died) that the first female was cast for his play. Even though women want the rights that men have, there is still a split between the genders. Many have said that they don’t want to do the “dirty work” or that they would not want to be “drafted to war”. Women sometimes state that they don’t want to be a part of somethings that men have to do and the same thing with men.  In the poem, The Last Duchess, “this grew: I gave commands; then all smiles stopped together ” (Browning), showing that Duke didn’t want to do the killing himself, he had someone else do it for him.  This showing that even now in 2018 we as people are still not fully equal. Both men and women have their sides on this argument, because men think they have it hard and that women have it easy or that women have it hard and men have to easy. Either way each gender should be respected and has the right to talk and believe in the side they wish to. Men and women should be given the same opportunities. Men and women have different roles in life that each aren’t able to do for each other. In some ways, women played an important role in life in british literature, taking care of the home and family.   Without women, men wouldn’t be able to live because the men relied on women a lot, the women were the men’s caretakers.  Women in British Literature were never treated right, mainly because men were writing the play and/or book didn’t think that women needed more in life. Overall women have never been treated right in British Literature from the beginning. The control of women’s rights depends on the writer and his view. Also that women do have a meaning in life, but everything is shown through the way the reader takes it.  For some, this means, that women could be nothing more than be a wife and mother, taking care of the home and children.  With her limited education, there was not much else available and that could be viewed in british literature as not being treated fairly.  For others, the role of the women, was a very important and  not taken lightly.  Caring for the husband, children, and home was just as important.   You can’t fault the writer,  they have portrayed the women, based on the gender roles of that time.  The writer has most of the control of the british literature written in the pass.   

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