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Myths and Stereotypes on Womens Madness in Feminist Literature - Essay Example

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The author of "Myths and Stereotypes on Women’s Madness in Feminist Literature" paper explores the relationship between gender and madness in "Wide Sargasso Sea Madness" and "Sexual Politics in the Feminist Novel: Studies in Bronte, Woolf, Lessing, and Atwood"…
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Myths and Stereotypes on Womens Madness in Feminist Literature
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Download file to see previous pages The ultimate salvation and expression of a woman lie in providing mental support to the ever so creative man, they went on convincing young, aspiring young women. It was this background that prompted Sylvia Plath to create the character, Buddy Willard’s mother and, make her say the sentence, “what a man is is an arrow into the future and what a woman is is the place the arrow shoots off from…,” (Plath, 1972, p.58) in her novel, Bell Jar.

Anybody that refuses to conform to the norms and conventions of the society stands the risk of being branded mad. Madness is a revolt of the psyche against the social conditioning that every human being acquires from his or her surroundings. Esther goes mad primarily because her individuality had no value in a male-dominated society. The society wants her to be yet another clone in a faceless crowd of women enslaved to men. She states very clearly that she does not want to be the arrow launcher and insists to become the arrow itself. But she is overwhelmed by the state of events that will never let her be that.

There are instances when Esther is strongly vocal in her feminist leanings. But she lacks the fighting spirit of an optimistic activist and instead she indulges in self-destructive fatalism. "And I knew that in spite of all the roses and kisses and restaurant dinners a man showered on a woman before he married her, what he secretly wanted when the wedding service ended was for her to flatten out underneath his feet like Mrs. Willard's kitchen mat," (Plath, 1972, p. 80) was her utterly cynical remark on the institution of marriage and family.

The characterization of Mrs. Rochester, the infamous madwoman in the attic, from Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 novel, Jane Eyre, also reflects the identity struggles that women of that era silently had to endure through. Jean Rhys in ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’, her prequel to this novel, re-narrates the story of Mrs. Rochester from a feminist angle and gives madness, a definition, based on identity politics. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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