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Adas Muteness and Voice - Essay Example

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The author underlines that the Victorian Age, basically defined as the second half of the 18th century in which Queen Victoria set the standard for proper British behavior, is the age in which Jane Campion’s novel The Piano is set.  This period in history is generally considered one of the most repressive and socially controlling eras in history…
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Adas Muteness and Voice
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Adas Muteness and Voice

Download file to see previous pages... This is the kind of social situation that is described in opening pages of The Piano as the main character Ada describes her preparations to leave her home and cross the sea to New Zealand where she will meet the husband that her father has just married her to without having consulted her at all. This introduction makes an instant connection between her muteness in voice and her muteness in her society and even in her own life. Throughout the story, Ada is trapped in a man’s world, even when she goes as far away as New Zealand and its untamed frontier which is where most of the story takes place. However, in the character of Ada, Jane Campion shows how a woman without a voice made herself heard even to those who wouldn’t listen, demonstrating how a voice could be used as a tool of power in an otherwise powerless world.
It is helpful to gain a bit of historical understanding regarding the female voice in order to fully appreciate the significance of Ada’s silence and returning voice by the end of the story. Anne Carson provides a strong analysis of how concepts regarding the woman’s voice evolved out of ancient history. According to Carson, women expressed the moments of extreme joy, grief, fear and hope within the regular and climactic moments of life through the sound of the ololyga: “a high-pitched piercing cry uttered at certain climactic moments in ritual practice … or at climactic moments in real life … and also a common feature of women’s festivals” (Carson, 1995: 125). Because the noise could be irritating to those not actively engaged in the celebration, these rituals were usually held outside of the range of hearing of the men and the city. Over time, this had the tendency to reinforce ideas of women as savage mysterious outsiders. Their religious rites were often female only, they made strange sounds while practicing and they practiced outside of the city limits, making them seem like wild animals in the wilderness.  Meanwhile, the proper role of the man was to disconnect from his emotions enough to control the escape of unintended, uncontrolled sounds.  ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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