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Gender Conflicts in Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Hurston's novel is groundbreaking due to the use of a black female protagonist who is on a journey to self-realisation in a time when black women in literature were portrayed as gentle and domestic. The purpose of this essay is to explore the gender conflicts in the characterization of the characters, especially the female protagonist, and in the logic of the narrative in regard to gender roles and abuse of women. Analysing the novel through a twenty-first-century Scandinavian feminist viewpoint shows that the major gender conflict in the novel resides in the tension between the traditional patriarchal roles for men and women and the more liberal view on how the two sexes should live their lives. The reason is the internalised patriarchal norms in both the protagonist and the narrative as a whole. Hurston uses third-person narration and free indirect discourse, which contributes to the complexity of the characters as well as to the gender conflict in the narrative. The protagonist enters three marriages with three men who stand for three different lives and different views of the masculine role. However, they all aim to be a ruling patriarch. Janie develops through her experiences in these relationships, though not always acting as an emanicipated woman. In all of Janie’s relationships abuse is present whether it is physical or emotional. Both Janie and the narrative accept or condone the abuse to some extent. Only when it becomes physical does the reader see any indications that the logic of the narrative or Janie wants to release her from the destructive relationships. The heroine is by no means weak or fragile. She is however, a patriarchal woman who has internalised the belief that men are the rulers of women.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 21 p.
National Category
Specific Literatures
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-27384Local ID: EN:1OAI: diva2:623279
Subject / course
Available from: 2013-06-12 Created: 2013-05-26 Last updated: 2013-06-12Bibliographically approved

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