She lies about her husband’s vulgar behaviour and justifies it through clichés. While Blanche lies primarily to others, Stella lies to herself. Both do so as they need to, to survive. At the beginning of the play-from the moment we meet Blanche, we see the idea of telling lies and keeping secrets appear. Blanche is driven by sexual desire but is condemned by it for being a whore.
However the traditional role of femininity that was enforced upon women by a stringent and somewhat vigorous society was changing and these two texts challenge the traditional role of femininity both directly and indirectly throughout. The lack of communication and action of characters in As I Lay Dying is often conspicuous. As one would expect, this often leads to an obscuring of identity for both the female protagonists alongside males. Addie is scathing of words in particular. For her, they are just a “shape to fill a lack”.
A time when the banner of patriarchy flew over the bonnets of subjugated females. A time when you could choose either to conform, or face social rejection. Some women preferred to rebel in their own graceful ways, but most exacerbated their oppression with frivolous attitudes and behaviors. Beginning with the witty opening phrase, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” (Austen, 3), the author perpetuates a note on the status of the one track mind held by the female gender of this time. As exemplified in Pride and Prejudice with characters like Mrs. Bennet and her child, Lydia, many ladies put money above love when it came to the subject of marriage.
Women were expected to be obedient and it’s certain that both playwrights present this in their plays. However modern day views in society acknowledge various interpretations of the literature. Some people may depict Shakespeare as a misogynist for allowing women to be tortured without any defence for themselves. Whereas Arthur Miller could presented a more modern approach for representing working women, such as Charley’s assistant. However this character is submerged beneath men for she is working as an assistant to a wealthy man.
Although she has lost all connection to this part of her life, Stanley is not fooled by Blanche’s aristocratic pretenses. Blanche does not want to accept that she is now equal to people like Stanley. She has adopted idealistic and fantastical values to separate herself from average people and to hide the mistakes she has made as well as hiding who she really is as a person. In this play Tennessee Williams explores the complexity of the relationship between these two characters and their inability to understand each other. The abuse that Blanche goes through leads her unstable and emotional nature to the point of mental insanity.
However I believe that beneath this layer of “properness” there is the still the raw sexuality of our nature. If you look at romance novels you will find that women read about and find pleasure in some of the most heinous fantasies. Men on the other hand watch porn; both are manifestations of real, repressed desire. Additionally you have internet dating, face-booking, tweeting and other such impersonal ways of meeting a mate. It’s increasingly hard for people to display their true nature without an interface, or a gimmick because instances where one does can put that person at risk socially.
While Iago manipulates Desdemona’s reputation to cause the downfall of almost every primary character in Shakespeare’s Othello, Desdemona still exhibits power that defies her role as a female in a patriarchal society. Her reputation is subject both to Iago’s shrewd attacks and to her society’s structure; which unknowingly puts the men at risk while they think they are securing their own safety by confining these women. Desdemona is treated as a product exchanged by men and is smothered by Othello in his efforts to protect other men and keep her sexuality contained. Iago objectifies Desdemona as he manipulates Othello’s perspective of her until Othello literally deconstructs his wife, despite her innocence. Though she seems the stereotypical female, Desdemona breaks free of gender constraints as she defies her father and exhibits complete control over Othello at the beginning of the play.
Dramatic irony is used as the audience know that this is already her second drink therefore contradicting herself. As Blanche also uses the word ‘limit’ this suggests that Blanche has been told in the past to keep to a ‘limit’ , as she even lies to her sister suggesting she cannot control the alcohol problem as she has to lie to those closest to her. However in my opinion it is more than an alcohol problem that has led to her overall downfall. Blanche’s life has always been involved with male influences and in the 1940’s when the play was written men had a huge influence on woman. It’s only in today’s society where woman have finally started to become equal in comparison to the 1940’s play.
She also rejects the need for male power, which is represented by phallus, the people around her whom she draws her inspiration and power from are women and lack phallus. The women hold their own power which goes against psychoanalysis, stating women are close to men because they want to be as close to phallic symbol of power as possible. Also, the way the women dress and act; they do so knowing they will not be judged. In our society if a woman dresses provocatively, she is trashy, or if she has many sexual partners, than she is a slut. However, if a man has many sexual partners, he is a player, a charming playboy, and all the other guys want to be him.
“This is how to behave in the presence of men who don’t know you very well, and this way they won’t recognize immediately the slut I warned you against becoming”. (J.K.) Basically, the narrator is telling the girl that you have to be prim and proper in society or you’ll be looked upon as a “slut” or “uneducated”. There is another story that almost has a similar theme called Daisy Miller, by Henry James. Daisy Miller is based during a society where women catered to their men, or that men were the ones “wearing the pants” in the relationships. The similarities in these stories are involving young impressionable ladies at an age where their not quite adult women, so they see no upper class or lower class, or behaving a certain way will label you.