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To What Extent Do Male And Female Literary Characters Accurately Reflect The Role Of Men And Women In Society?

866 words - 4 pages

To what extent do male and female literary characters accurately reflect the role of men and women in society?

A lasting piece of literature is a work that accurately reflects the role of the people during certain time period eloquently. This is best perpetuated in the short novel Kitchen written by Banana Yoshimoto and the play The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde. While the main characters Mikage in the novella and Gwendolyn in the play reflect the shifting role of women in the Japanese society and Victorian era respectively, Yuichi and Algernon, on the other hand, however reflects the role of men through unconventional means. Through subtle use of symbolism, Banana Yoshimoto ...view middle of the document...

In light of this observation, Mikage captures both aspects of womanhood—to nurture the Tanabe family with her cooking and to emotionally nurture herself as a means to forging her own identity in the context of changing women’s role in Japan. By exploring the varied conflicts faced by Mikage Yoshimoto, though does not provide definite conclusion, draws on contemporary concerns in regard to changing women’s view toward family, career and romantic love. Furthermore, through the employment of consumerism, the philosophy of equating individual pursuit of happiness with the purchase of material possessions, Mikage reflects the philosophy of young woman in the Japanese society. When Yuichi bought a word processor for Mikage to write her address cards Mikage initially thought the Tanabe family embraces a bad buying habit for unnecessary items. But as the plot unfolds, this leads to “mingle…raindrops…”(27) and further sharing and emotional connections between Mikage and Yuichi. In such case, significance of consumerism in the relationship between Mikage and the Tanabe family suggest value of Japanese youth in the 1980s.

On the other hand, Gwendolyn in The Importance of Being Ernest, while inverts the traditional Victorian gender role of aggressive male and submissive female, practices the conventional Victorian womanhood with her strong ideas about social protocol. Her ideal--“to love someone of the name “Ernest””, establishes her role as an artificial and pretentious aristocrat of the British society. As Gwendolyn explains to Jack Worthing: “There is something in the name that inspires absolute confidence”, she is indeed conforming to the preoccupation of the Victorian upper class...

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