How Is Feminism Reflected in Literature?
The written word has always been a tool for spreading awareness into the masses. Documenting human history and struggle in literature has led towards civilization’s improvement from the mistakes of their ancestors and developing ways of escaping said struggles (Mark, 2009). One of those struggles has been the fight for equal rights for women, or feminism.
Feminism has been widely misunderstood throughout history and still is to this date because that’s what happens when systematic oppression is questioned or challenged (Lorenzo, 2014). Fighting the feminist fight wasn’t just through protests by and large but also through literature making people question their ways either through autobiographies of women’s daily struggles or fictional work depicting the sad reality of the world with non-existent but very real characters.
This reflection of feminism in literature followed the waves of feminism happening in society during the time. During the more recent waves of feminism, in works of Mary Ellman (1968) and Kate Millet (1969) during the late 1960’s the marginalisation of women and demeaning treatment were depicted but it wasn’t just female novelists who questioned the system, but also by turning books into movies, like Taming of the Shrew (1969) of great author Shakespeare, which centred around the abuse suffered by his female character Katherina, another sad depiction of reality.
During the late 1970’s, multiple aspects in literature were explored, such as Elaine Showalter’s A Literature of Their Own (1977) reflected the different phases of gynocentrism while on the other hand The Mad Woman trope was being depicted and questioned in Charlotte Bronte’s legendary Jane Eyre since the 80’s. While male writers dominated the industry by and large, writers like Virginia Woolf had always been able to squeeze through to fame since the 1920’s with their accurate depiction of women characters which has always been a key issue. During the 1990’s, nearing the millennium, a rise in female writers was seen (Howell, 2015) and appreciated for their portrayal of women characters with accuracy.
Even though the struggles of women have been recorded in literature since in 70’s (Rivera, 2020), women have their fellow feminists to thank for paving the way for women today all around the world. Without them they wouldn’t be here and reached the success their ancestors only dreamed of.
Howell, S. (2014). The Evolution of Female Writers: An Exploration of Their Issues and Concerns from the 19th Century to Today. HOHONU, 13.
Lorenzo, A. (2014, March 5). Literature is powerful. Literature defines humanity.
Mark, J. J. (2009, September 2). Literature. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/literature/
O’Connor, K. (n.d.). Feminist approaches to literature.
Rivera, A. (2020, April 12). The history and importance of women’s literature.
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