A significant in the world has always been inequality of gender, and still, women face its challenges. For example, many parts of the world do not grant the same freedoms as men so women are denied many rights both political and social How did the origins of gender inequality in the past centuries start? It is not entirely clear why people have viewed men and women so differently.
Fortunately, as the first seeds of feminism began to take root, people began to realize that men and women should be treated as equals politically, economically, culturally, and socially. Even though the existence of gender inequality has still not yet been completely resolved across the globe, Western societies undoubtedly have made great strides in pioneering the gender-neutral attitudes of today. This progress lends itself to many sources, among which an important aspect is contained in literature, allowing authors to share their ways of thinking with their readers.
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By incorporating their stand against about gender inequality into their works, sometimes overtly and other times subliminally, authors have swayed the opinions of their audiences, often times winning their hearts and minds to the cause. For this reason, it can be said that without literature, women might not have had the same rights as they do today. Charlotte Bronze and Geoffrey Chaucer are a couple examples of British authors who incorporated their own beliefs about equality of women into their works.
Front’s Jane Ere and Saucer’s “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” share this vision from different approaches. In fact, both strongly oppose the predetermined fate for women chosen by British society during their respective time periods ( Middle Ages and Victorian era) and believe that women deserve to equals who have respect and honor. As Front’s Jane begins her new life in Threefold, it is not long before the protagonist is completely in lust with Mr… Rochester who begins to consume her every thought. Soon, Cane’s happiness is reliant upon him.
Thus, when they finally confess their love for each other, and Mr… Rochester nonchalantly proposes marriage, Jane responds with abrupt hostility using questions like: “Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton? -a machine without feelings? ‘ Declining a marriage proposal to a man of such wealth would be unusual for a woman of the Victorian era, but Jane no longer tolerates the way in which Rochester appears to treat her like an object. Instead, she demands to be paid the same level of respect and honor that she offers him. Tired of relying on Mr…
Rochester for happiness, Jane decides to decline his marriage proposal in spite of the fact that she is in love with him. She continues, claiming that, “It is [her] spirit that addresses [his] spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, standing at God’s feet, equal . Here, the speech is an obvious example Of feminist thinking because Jane argues it is not right for her to be treated as inferior to Mr… Rochester due to her sex. So it is really obvious that the female protagonist’s behavior goes against the popular opinion of Front’s peers, proposing everyone, regardless of gender, is equal.
Victorians’ understanding of gender by seems to pull apart notions of what it means to be a man and a woman. Obviously then, Jane Ere is used to defy Victorian masculine Likewise, Geoffrey Chaucer explores women through a female character that asserts her independence. King Arthur discovers that one of his knights raped a young maiden and condemns him to death. Yet his queen gives him another hence to save his life under one condition: he has to discover what it is that women desire above all else. After searching for about a year , he encounters a hideous old woman who grants him his answer.
When the day of his judgment finally arrives, the knight confidently states that “Women desire to have sovereignty As well over hire housebound as hire love And for to been in mastery him above” (Chaucer). Chaucer addresses three possible resolutions to the issues regarding the inequality of women: The first deals with a woman’s sovereignty and the belief that everyone should be treated equally thou regard to gender. The second concerns marriage and how men should treat their wives with respect and honor rather than viewing them as subordinate.
Lastly, this passage calls attention to the injustice of sexual violence. Although Chaucer wrote “The Wife of Bath’s Tall’ as fiction, the underlying themes portray the genuine life struggles of fourteenth century women. In Saucer’s opinion, human fairness and dignity really are what women desire most, in the form of sovereignty and treatment as equals. Many critics can agree that Saucer’s main intent in this work is to express his egalitarian beliefs about women’s rights. In “Saucer’s Anti-Misogynist Wife of Bath,” Kenneth J.
Overbore, librarian at the American University in Cairo, explains that ‘the Wife’s will to dominate husbands and her wish that all wives be as she is are no less, these critics assure us, than a subversion of the principle of patriarchal order sanctioned by Scripture and Christian tradition” (Overbore 287). The Wife, who narrates the tale, clearly hopes to diminish the oppression of women by bringing about true self-determination. With that being said, it is fair to assume that Geoffrey Chaucer wanted greater society to reach this point as well, which is why he expresses these feminist beliefs so persistently throughout his work.
Along these same lines, the independent women provided in Jane Ere and “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” go to great lengths of personal sacrifice to combat the inequalities of their stations, albeit with varying success. In Charlotte Barongs novel, Jane Ere struggles between her yearning for complete independence and her passionate love for Mr… Rochester. She knows she cannot have both, so she must make a decision. For women living in the Victorian era, choosing freedom would be almost completely out of the realm of possibilities, which is why Jane behavior is considered to be not only abnormal, but unrealistic too.
Critics question why Saucer’s old woman desires to marry the knight if the author didn’t intend for her to be a feminist character. Maybe it is because this relates directly to the oppression of women , so she is a character who supports feminism, yet marriage is the only option the old woman has ever known. Both Bronze and Chaucer use their characters to defy the reality of the expected behavior of women. By doing so, they are opposing the widely accepted belief system behind the subordination of women while promoting ideas of gender equality.
So although Bronze and Chaucer include forms of feminism through their dominant female characters, there are elucidations of this theme in both works dealing with the importance of appearance. For women living in both the Middle Ages and the Victorian era, it is expected of them to do whatever is necessary in order to appear more enticing to the opposite sex, which makes sense considering society unyielding emphasis on marriage. Nonetheless, Jane Ere rejects this anti-feminist belief, realizing instead that he is worth far more than her outward appearance.
When Bessie, a female whose position as a maid makes her subservient in society as well as in a gender role, dares to admit to Miss Abbot that she feels sorry for Jane, Abbot rudely responds, stating that “if [Jane] [was] a nice, pretty child, one might compassionate her forlornness, but one really cannot care for such a little toad as that’ (Front 26). Although far from ugly, Jane is described in the novel as being very plain and average looking. Unfortunately, for this reason, she is considered by peers to be worthless and undeserving of love.