Hegemony In The House On Mango Street

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In the second section, “Cultural Theory,” in Marxism and Literature, Raymond Williams offers the traditional definition of hegemony, as well as the different aspects of the concept itself. In his most simple definition, Williams states, “it is, that is to say, in the strongest sense a ‘culture’, but a culture which has also to be seen as the lived dominance and subordination of particular classes” (110). Many, if not all, of the texts on the reading list are demonstrative of this ability of one class to assert its power over a lower class. Contrastingly, in order to disrupt the hegemony, those who suffer from subordination will perform counter-hegemonic acts. Williams further explains that “[a] lived hegemony is always a process” and therefore…show more content…
In Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street, Cathy attempts to elevate her own position within the neighborhood by proclaiming to be a descendant of the queen of France, as well as by mistreating Lucy and Rachel because of their lower class status. Here, the counter-hegemony is demonstrated through modification. Lucy and Rachel alter Cathy’s power because she excludes herself from playing with the girls and sharing in the purchase of the bicycle. While Cathy and her family may retain economic power over Lucy, Rachel, and the others on Mango Street, Cathy’s family must alter their existence by moving out of the neighborhood. They are the ones who find it necessary to relocate and who ultimately lose a sense of community because of their decision to isolate themselves in order to maintain this economic power. Like Heathcliff, Esperanza will only be able to subvert her subordinate position when she moves away from Mango Street and uses her writing as a means to earn a living. Subsequently, Esperanza will one day return to Mango Street and give back to her community, whether it will be monetarily or just allowing bums to sleep in her attic. In Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Linda Brent is constantly resisting and challenging the dominant hegemony of slavery as represented in slave owner, Dr. Flint. Regardless of her position as a female slave, Linda is able to destabilize the dominance of the slave masters by empowering herself with the ability to read and write. It is this attempt at resisting the dominant class that allows Linda to finally escape, despite the constant efforts (physical and mental) by Dr. Flint to assert his dominance over Linda. Although Dr. Flint still maintains control over other slaves, it is Linda who has subverted his power, thereby disrupting the hegemony of the institution of slavery as
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