Gender Stereotypes Struggle
The twentieth century is the age of massive industrialization, globalization and counter movements. By the midpoint of this century, women throughout the Western countries have changed their roles in social, political, and cultural spheres. The process of globalization has allowed European and American literary ideas to spread into Eastern cultures fairly rapidly (eNotes.com). The movement, called feminism, struggled against masculine power over women, advocated for equality of rights, transformed the traditional patriarchal social structure across the globe thus influencing many spheres on our life, including literature. The twentieth century brought changes not only in relationship of men and women, but also in society’s attitude towards sexual culture, thus making thousands of people throughout the world strive for equality rights.
The general idea of withstanding social standards and stereotypes echoed in literature, music and visual arts. This essay gives the analysis of the works by famous writers of the twentieth century, who were influenced by confronting ideas; they are Woman at Point Zero a narrative by Nawal El-Saadawi, M. Butterfly, a drama by David Henry Hwang and Howl, which is a poem by Allen Ginsberg. Though, these literary works are of different genre, they describe events taking place in different counties and have different plots, there is a common thread – fighting against stereotypes, especially gender ones. The analysis of gender subject in these texts is done with the help of Gender Studies and Queer Theory, which came to the forefront of the theoretical scene first as feminist theory but has subsequently come to include the investigation of all gender and sexual categories and identities (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy). The development of literature is tightly bounded with historical processes, so it is of great importance to study the social, cultural and political factors which influence the literary works. The role of historical context in interpretation is analyzed with the help of New Historicism Theory (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy).
The differences and similarities in relationship between the authors and their works, narrative strategies, interpretive approaches that emphasize literary forms, plots, characters and contextures of this literary works are studied within the Formalism and New Criticism Theory (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy).As mentioned, the works are written in the twentieth century and reflect the countering mood towards stereotypes. M. Butterfly and Howl are written in America, and Woman at Point Zero – in Egypt. Woman at Point Zero and M. Butterfly both are stories told be imprisoned people. Saadawi's novel is based on story, which a female prisoner in Qanatir Prison and is the first-person account of Firdaus, a murderess who has agreed to tell her life story before her execution tells the author. M. Butterfly takes place in a prison cell in Paris with many recalls form different people and flashbacks throughout. In Howl, the author narrates his own story and describes the desperation, the suffering and the persecution of a group of poets, who are seeking for transcendent reality and to whom he belongs.Literary process is inseparable from the …