Georgiana as a Perfect Woman in the Contemporary Society Essay
Three Works Depicting a Contemporary Woman
Contemporary western society is seen as a terrain where women have acquired quite many liberties and opportunities. Women occupy highest posts in countries and this can be regarded as a complete victory of feminists. Nonetheless, works by Woolf and Brownmiller, which were written in the twentieth century, verify that all those ‘victories’ are nothing more than a pleasing diversity for men who are still in power.
The two essays reveal the essence of gender roles in the contemporary society. The two works depict women as dependant on men. The authors also explain this dependency stating that women were bred to fit the world of men during centuries. It is possible to think of a variety of examples that confirm ideas provided by Woolf and Brownmiller.
However, it is also possible to think of a conspicuous example of gender roles which is represented by Georgiana, the main character of Hawthorne’s short story “The Birthmark”. Georgiana is a specific example of the women in the twenty-first century who are eager to please the men without even knowing it, the women who see themselves as empathetic, supportive and selfless creatures destined to be disintegrated in the universe of the men.
Woolf’s and Brownmiller’s Suggestions on Women’s Status in the Society
According to Brownmiller and Woolf, women are expected to be sympathetic, submissive and pleasing. Moreover, being sympathetic is regarded as one of the major virtues of the woman. The two authors note that women are meant to admit men’s superiority and take it for granted. Thus, masculinity is a purely male virtue, while sympathy is a purely female virtue. Men are seen as strong and decisive creatures who are responsible for decision making, and women are seen as those who create comfortable atmosphere for the decision makers.
Importantly, the contemporary society heavily relies on religious conventions which, in their turn, support the societal order where females are inferior to males. The Bible brings discredit on women depicting the very first woman as a former part of the first man. Moreover, the woman made a very wrong decision (concerning the apple) and was deprived of the ability to make any other ‘erroneous’ decisions in the future.
Brownmiller claims that women have quite a restricted responsibility, i.e. to run the household and create comfortable atmosphere for the man. According to the writers, women cannot even have an opinion of their own. A woman’s viewpoint can be accepted in the contemporary society if it goes along with the male’s opinion. Female have no right to contradict. In this case, women will simply be ignored. However, if they express ideas that support existing (male) concepts, these opinions can even be praised.
Finally, the two works also reveal one more aspect defining the role of a woman. The writers suggest that beauty is one of the major tools women can use to please men. Brownmiller states that females were ‘allowed’ to wear make-up and revealing outfits to please males, not to enjoy their basic rights to choose outfits they want. Again, women’s beauty is considered to be another virtue assigned to females. Strengths and decisiveness of men and beauty and sympathy of women are the principles reigning in the contemporary society.
Georgiana as an Example of the Major Characteristics of the Woman
Georgiana is depicted as a perfect woman as she is sympathetic and supportive. She admires her husband and keeps saying about her admiration. However conspicuous her words of admiration are, her husband’s remarks prove the suggestions of Woolf and Brownmiller. The two writers stress that submissiveness is one of the major virtues assigned to women. Thus, when Georgiana says she worships her husband, he replies:
Ah! wait for this one success . then worship me if you will. I shall deem myself hardly unworthy of it . I have sought you for the luxury of your voice. (Hawthorne 7)
The man humbly says he is unworthy of the woman’s admiration. Nonetheless, it is obvious that he does not really think so. He believes he is to be worshiped and he is pleased to be flattered. He never stops his experiments even though they are failures. He does not say his attempts are unsuccessful and he does not want to see how painful it is for his wife. He seeks for comfort. He wants to listen to his wife’s singing even though she is hardly able to perform as she is exhausted by the experiments.
Georgiana has to endure painful experiments and she stresses that her husband is the great decision maker as she notes, “fear not that I shall shrink, for my share in it is far less than your own” (Hawthorne 7). On one hand, Georgiana accepts her husband’s superiority and keeps saying about it.
On the other hand, she is very supportive and is ready to help him no matter what. She understands the danger of those trials. However, she is too concerned with pleasing her husband and supporting him in his efforts to achieve his aims. She notes, “I shall quaff whatever draught you bring me . a dose of poison, if offered by your hand” (Hawthorne 7). She is submissive and supportive as she loves her husband and, being a perfect woman, she is eager to please him.
Georgiana is eager to accept her husband’s viewpoint. Her attitude towards the birthmark illustrates her readiness to skip from decision making. Thus, she has never thought of her birthmark as an imperfection as “it has been so often called a charm” and lots of “desperate” swains “would have risked life for the privilege of pressing lips to the mysterious hand” (Hawthorne 1).
Nonetheless, her husband realizes that the ‘hideous’ imperfection of his wife’s face cannot be tolerable. He starts gazing at her face and she understands her birthmark disgusts him.
She is eager to please her husband and she simply grants him the right to make the decision. She declares, “I joyfully stake all upon your word” (Hawthorne 8). What is more, she starts believing she hates the birthmark. This illustrates Woolf’s and Brownmiller’s suggestions that women are bred in accordance with existing rules.
Some women understand they have to express ideas supporting men’s beliefs. However, some, like Georgiana, adopt male’s concept without even knowing it, “Not even Aylmer now hated it so much as she” (Hawthorne 6). Thus, the young and beautiful woman starts begging her husband to do what he (not she) wants to do. The woman has no will of her own anymore.
Brownmiller notes that women are expected to be charming and beautiful to delight men’s eyes. Georgiana’s husband is the embodiment of the concept. It is he who decides what is beautiful and what is imperfect. It is he who sees the birthmark as a hideous sign of the evil. Woolf and Brownmiller note that religious concepts put a kind of vicious mark on all women who are regarded as sinful and somewhat unworthy creatures. Many women are bred in terms of these conventions and, as a result, they start believing it in the course of time.
Georgiana exclaims, “There is but one danger – that this horrible stigma shall be left upon my cheek” (Hawthorne 7). Therefore, women are conditioned to feel inferior to men as even their bodies do not truly belong to them. Women are ready to change their appearance only to please males.
On balance, it is possible to note that the three works discussed can be regarded as a certain reflection of gender roles existing in the contemporary world. Woolf and Brownmiller define major characteristic features of the woman in the modern society, while Hawthorne provides a story that illustrates the concepts revealed. The three sources depict the woman as a supportive, submissive, indecisive, but beautiful and charming creature that is assigned to please the man.
Moreover, according to the three texts women are conditioned to believe they are really inferior to man as they are brought up in terms of a variety of conventions that support the society as it is. Of course, some women understand that those are conventions that make them play roles assigned. For instance, they know that to be heard they need to say things that go along with men’s ideas.
However, some women do not even think about such things. Thus, the works discussed may be the necessary stimuli for women to start a new order and to make men as well as women see that such concept as equality is much more important than doubtful superiority.
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