The Theme Of Gender Roles In “Their Eyes Were Watching God” (Essay Sample)
For this assignment, you will select ONE of the texts we've covered this semester and write a brief (4-6 pgs.) paper in which you analyze some issue/facet of the text that interests you. Your paper should have a working thesis but bear in mind that you're dealing with matters of interpretation, so you're not necessarily expected to come to some firm, definitive conclusion. The assignment is designed to facilitate critical thinking about a particular aspect of a text, so you'll want to consider a topic worthy of interpretive discourse. Your analysis may incorporate aspects of the class discussion, but it should extend beyond this to account for the complexity of the text/topic and your level of intellectual engagement.
You may decide to write on a particular theme, symbol, character, stylistic technique, plot device, social issue, etc. within a single text. You may also choose to produce a more theoretical analysis of a text, using one of the theories we've covered, or to incorporate some theory into your analysis of a particular literary element. I would caution against writing a primarily theoretical essay if you don't feel very comfortable with the theory itself, as well as the significance and applicability of it to the text in question.
No compare/contrast essays of multiple texts or multiple characters within a text. This doesn't mean you can't use specific comparisons or contrasts between texts or characters to support your thesis, but this shouldn't be the focal point of your paper.
You will want to avoid being too broad with your thesis. For example, you may mention interpretations of the text that differ from your own, but your paper as a whole shouldn't be an overview of the various interpretations that are possible.
The theme of Gender Roles in “Their Eyes Were Watching God.”
After reading “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” composed by Zora Neale Hurston, I chose to analyze the theme of gender roles, along with their impact on African America civilization during the 1930s. In the sixth chapter of Hurston's novel, the importance placed by men on feeling senior to their female consorts and compelling them in a subservience role is openly exhibited. Joe Starks in this chapter tries to fit Janie into a self-abasing role by hushing her in discussions, beating her, and treating her like an object he possesses. This cogent sentiment that Hurston establishes early in the novel acts as the driving force for Janie to determine that as a woman, development and personal growth will occur once she decamps from the mold Joe places on her.
Much like mules, thoughts that women should perform the tasks required of them and not attempt to exceed their positions as subservient consorts is exemplified when we see the influence, Joe, Janie's husband has on the conversations she is allowed to partake in and the tasks she is permitted to undertake. “Janie enjoyed the conversations, and at times she devised good narratives on the mule; however, Joe had restricted her from indulging” (Hurston, 53). Joining a conversation about the mule and its interment is important to Janie reason being, she strongly relates to it. Being connected to Joe, Janie feels like the mule previously described by her Nanny as the workhorse of all humanity. Janie feels like she is Joe's workhorse and desires to see the mule unbound from man's unjustness. Joe eventually liberates the mule from its harsh owner and lets it die peacefully, an act that makes him appear mightier than he is. However, Joe never “frees” Janie. Janie has to outlive Joe before she can rampage and riot to be liberated from the gender role established for her. Joe's feelings that women are objects possessed by men are exemplified he witnesses other men coveting his wife. “Her hair will not be openly displayed in the store” (Hurston, 55). “She was present in the store for him to glance at, and not others” (Hurston, 55). Here, Joe reveals that Janie's purpose is pleasing him and him only, and he will take it further and demand that she wraps her hair in a certain way in aims on not distracting the daily customers. Joe feels threatened to know that Janie is a fine-looking woman while he is rapidly advancing in age.
Hurston exhibits the thought that Janie should aspire to want what white women do on a daily basis; sit and relax on the porches of their house. “Everyone was enjoying themselves at the mule bating. Everyone except Janie” (Hurston, 56); this exhibits how Joe requires Janie to appear as one living the white woman
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