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Feminism in the works of Susan Glaspell and Sophocles Essay

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Updated: Dec 17th, 2019

Introduction

In literature and language studies, a variety of themes exist and among the fascinating ones is feminism. Feminism has been given attention by a number of writers, play writers, poets and novelists. Their works have been used to study feminism in literature. Feminism was brought in the lime light through the works of writers, who came up with the notion of feminism and demonstrated how it has affected society.

Such writers include Susan Glaspell and Sophocles. This research essay will make reference to the works of different writers to discuss feminism in the works of Susan Glaspell and Sophocles. Susan Glaspell is known for “A Jury of her peers” and plays “Triffles” while Sophocles work in feminism is “The Women of Trachis”.

Feminism in the works of Susan Glaspell and Sophocles

Susan Glaspell is a renowned novelist, script writer, poet and an actress. Her works “A Jury of her peers” and play “Triffles” have been featured in feminism studies. Sophocles brought out the notion of feminism in his work “The Women of Trachis”, which is considered a Greek tragedy.

The works have been adopted in play and are used in the study of feminism. Moreover, they have remained in use since the 19th century. The works have been dramatized and remain in print for feminism studies.

Susan Glaspell work, “A Jury of her peers”, narrates the story of an abused woman, who takes the life of her abusive husband. The truth about the death of her husband is concealed while story of the husband’s death is told making the legal situation different.

Women who become the jury are able to enter the kitchen and make judgments while the men who do not visit the kitchen have a different perception on the same matter (Makowsky 4).

Sophocles works “The Women of Trachis” describes a woman whose husband left for adventure and leaves her with the entire responsibility of the family. The wife, who marries unwillingly, is left by the husband for a long time until she sends her son to look for him. The wife is left with insecurities and anxieties until the whereabouts of the husband are told.

She sees the success of the husband as their success. She engages in magic to win the attention of the husband so that he does not pursue a relationship with another woman. She takes her life after her plans are shattered (Griffin 2).

Both Susan Glaspell and Sophocles are writers whose works introduced the model of feminism in the society. The society favored and considered men as the favorite gender. Consequently, men enjoyed most privileges as women were under them. The work also introduces physical and emotional abuse that women undergo. The abuse is neither by recognized the law nor by tradition.

Sophocles, in his work, portrays women as beings who are dependent on men for security. The female character in “The Women of Trachis” is overwhelmed by anxieties and fears when the husband goes missing. After the disappearance of her husband, she has to take over the responsibility of taking care of her family. As a woman, she goes along with the marriage although she is not willing to be united with the man.

Feminism as demonstrated in the works of Susan Glaspell is domination of men over women. Men create and implement domination which is demonstrated in the legal system. The legal system represents men’s ideas. Moreover, the legal system is dominated by men who are in control. She further emphasizes the oppression of women who are abused by their husbands.

Sophocles works imply that women exert many efforts to support the families and view the success of men as their success. Men enjoy the privilege of being polygamous. Being polygamous leaves the wives with the responsibility of taking care of the family.

The writers had become aware of the injustices against women. When they were writing their works, they had noted the place of a woman in the society in the past and present. The woman was not allowed to vote, was under the authority of the husband, could not enjoy owning property and was denied basic human rights by the manmade laws.

Men had been allowed to batter women and the law protected men from being convicted. The language that Susan Glaspell and Sophocles use implies that women had suffered abuse and had lived with it until it was named. Women gain identity by being referred by their husband’s name.

The first name of a woman is rarely used. Marital rape, separation, stalking, abandonment and other forms of abuses were ignored in the society. Men are in control of the society.

They also brought out the differences of man and women in the society. Different roles are assigned on gender basis. Women’s role is the kitchen, children and house chores. On the other hand, men are free to leave their homes and go for adventure. Consequently, women gain identity by associating with men. The female characters are not referred by their first name; most are referred by their husband’s name.

Susan Glaspell and Sophocles use their works as a metaphor. As indicated in Susan Glaspell works, the unfinished business in the kitchen to break bread is a symbol of the diverse ideas and contribution of law in the society that has neglected to foster equality.

Cooperation is required and patriarchy needs not be replaced with matriarchy but with respect for all humanity. The traditional notion of men being good without considering how they treat women needs to be reversed. Sophocles identifies the departure of the husband to pursue individual goals. The departure leaves the woman insecure.

The justice system is dominated by men like in many other spheres of life. They are in authority and the representation of women is low. The law does not consider the realities that women encounter. Women, just like men, are also expected to obey the law. The women have their own understanding of laws. There is a difference in what women believe and understand (Makowsky 18).

The characters used reveal the perception of women in society. Women are viewed as defenseless and in need of help from men. Women depend on protection from men. Women value relationships. Men are the enemies of women since they cause them harm.

Men abuse the women physically and emotionally. Women are emotional beings who are not courageous to face life. Men who feel defeated describe themselves as a woman. Men are courageous and participate in war as women remain in homes to take care of the family (Griffin 22).

The works of Susan Glaspell and Sophocles illustrate well organized structure of literature. Each of the works begins with a brief background and progress to the drama. The solutions for the problem are not revealed in the story but the writers want to pass across the message of oppressed women in society. The aim is to reveal the family life in society and the effects of feminism in the society.

Women, who become juries, lacked faith in the manmade law. Susan Glaspell reveals that women understand feminine issues hence; it is possible they might have found the wife who killed the husband not guilty, although the story does not reveal the verdict. Sophocles works indicate a tragedy in the end, which is preventable if the society changes their perception on women.

Conclusions

Susan Glaspell’s “A Jury of her peers” and play “Triffles” as well as Sophocles’ “The Women of Trachis” are works that have brought out the concept of feminism precisely. They depict the differences between men and women in gender roles and the position of women in society. They also use literature to review the real situations of women in society and injustices that exist.

Women have suffered emotional and social injustice under male dominated society. The manmade law which favors men is supported by tradition. Men enjoy the privilege of being in control and polygamous. Women look upon men for security and value their relationships.

The language used implies that women gain identity by getting married. They are referred to by their husband’s name. The plot gives a brief history before the drama. The story discloses the implications of feminism in society.

Works Cited

Griffin, Jasper. Sophocles Revisited. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Makowsky, Veronica. Susan Glaspell’s Century of American women: a critical interpretation of her work. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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