Feminism in Literature

Feminism, a word that has been thrown around a lot within the past few years. It has been manipulated and contorted, mashed up and changed. It is a word that has very few meanings but at the same time very many. It is a work and a way of life that has been brought up over and over again. Not only has it shown up a lot within the past year, but for decades it has been a fight. Some might not even realize that feminism has been growing stronger and stronger through the decades. A way that women were able to express their opinion on feminism without being called out for it was through their literary works.

Many women writers throughout the victorian era weren’t allowed to be writers. They had to hide their work and if they were found out there would be dire consequences.

Charlotte Bronte, the author of Jane Eyre, a writer who spoke up about feminism within the Victorian era. Bronte writes about a young girl who experiences imprisonment for her social standing, class, gender and her being entirely. She is a low class girl who is orphaned and is not staying with her aunt. She is tortured and distraught because of her standings, especially as a women. She learns to fight back though, she learns to not let her being a women, or a low class citizen to ruin who she is. Feminism is prominent throughout this story, breaking the rules as to what the ideal women is.

George Eliot, thought of as a male writer turned out to be a woman. Mary Ann Evans, a woman author who wrote under her pen name because she didn’t want to be recognized as a woman and have her reputation be destroyed. She was a woman who secretly wrote about marriage and love. Her book Middlemarch was about a young woman and a young man who both settle into marriage because they don’t have anything else to do with their lives. Being married is considered a must. If you do not marry by a certain age then you are done for, you wont have a good life. Within this story, Evans considers this whole idea of marriage.

Why do people marry? Is it out of true love, or is it out societal desire? Evans starts to show the world that women are not settlers, they are not something that can be tossed around and forgotten. They have the ability to make their own choices and to wonder about different aspects of life. Evans starts to bring up the idea of feminism, by making the reader question women’s roles, making them want to be able to make their own decisions without a second thought.

Virginia Woolf, a writer of fiction and women. She was one of the first writers to ever fully come out and talk about women’s rights and their place in society in her book A Room of One’s Own. As a women writer in the victorian era, it was hard to be taken seriously by the men who dominated.

In her book she begins by saying how she is sitting on the grass near a pond looking into the water and thinking deeply about women and fiction. All of a sudden someone comes up to her and tells her to leave because she is a women, and this is not her place.

“This was the turf; there was the path. Only the Fellows and Scholars are allowed here; the gravel is the place for me” (A Room of One’s Own).

Woolf is showing society how women were being treated, how they were being perceived. She is starting the up roar of feminism through those simple words. Through a few statements.

Not only is Woolf starting a revolution but, she starts a culture of women showing their integrity through words, showing how they are capable of anything.

All of these women authors throughout history have shown different experiences and ideas of what feminism is.


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