Human beings are amazing creatures. Our history has shown spectacular and shameful events from day one. Throughout the course of history we have seen both war and peace. More war than peace, but the point still remains. That we, as a human race, have accomplished many wonderful intellectual break-throughs but we have also done very stupid deeds. Its amazing how a creature of such great intelligence could separate, segregate, discriminate, dehumanize, and enslave members of its own human race.
The world as we speak is existing because of gender issues. Going back to days of Adam and Eve. When God asked Adam not to eat from the apple tree, it was Eve, with her feminine lure, who was able to convince Adam to disobey Gods rules and eat the apple. Yet when God came to punish Adam for disobeying the rules, Adam pointed to Eve and blamed her for luring him into the sin of eating the apple. Yet in reality it was the serpent, which was the devil, that lured them into eating the apple. But of course Adam, being male had to blame Eve, the female. Which is typical male behavior to blame the woman, my sister says. In general men don’t take responsibility for their actions. Michealangelo has portrayed all this on the Sistienth Chapel. He has painted a picture that is portraying God punishing Adam for eating the apple. In this painting Adam loses his masculine image by pointing to Eve and blaming her for the problems that were caused by eating the apple.
Men threw out history have always been perceived as strong, powerful, heroic beings. Men are depicted as fighters, providers, and of course first class citizens. While woman on the other hand have always been perceived as weak, fainty, delicate homemakers, and unintelligent. Their main purpose in life is to cater for the men, and take care of the house and kids. And of course they were perceived as second class citizens.
The focus of this paper is to analyze the gender issues and differences that existed in all three plays. I would like to relate and compare these issues to our past as humans and to our modern day present.
We see a wide array of controversial gender issues arise in Lysistrata. This play starts off by showing the main character as a strong independent woman. The beginning of the play focuses on Lysistrata resentment and anger toward the woman of the town. She sees her own gender as weak and ignorant, and is appalled to be a woman at the beginning of the play. But Lysistrata proves us otherwise. She organizes and unites the woman of the neighboring town. In a master plan to end the Peloponnesian war.
The plan was complete abstinence, and it was affective because of the unity of the women. This abstinence gave the women the upper hand and the power to demand peace. The men could no longer come home from battle have sex and then leave. The women had the control, which for some reason seems very farfetched. The play its self brings out conflicts that our society today would think of as old fashion.
First off, the image of the male being a fighter, and being powerful is perceived when the men are at war. They left the women at home to take care of the house and kids. Today in countries like the U.S., women also go to war and fight side by side with men. But in Lysistrata, the women stayed behind because they were thought of to be not as powerful, and that they were the homemakers. In reality, it turned out that the women were the most powerful. The women used the most powerful muscle in the human body, the mind. The women united together and executed their plan of abstinence equals peace.
While executing their plan the females showed signs of true power. This power was only accomplished because of there unity. They occupied the Acropolis, and in doing so they took control of Athens’ financial reserves. This play shows true signs of women overcoming their gender roles, which is still unheard of in some cultures today.
The men however did not give up easily. They were extremely angry, which understandable. A man goes to battle and risks his life, but when he gets home he can’t even get a little love. This could make almost every man crazy. So the men threatened to attack the Acropolis, but in the end the women won. The power of women is vastly great, but this play shows that they need unity to execute this power.
What I found to be interesting is that at the beginning of the play the women were considered second class citizens. By the end, they had proven themselves as equals. They proved to be more powerful than the men are. They knew that their husbands were dying for an unreasonable war, and they thought of a peaceful plan to end it. And towards the end they were not considered as weak. But rather as powerful, and respectable. It is interesting how this comedy written so long ago still bring up issues that apply to our society today. The most powerful gender issue that was broken in this play, was the “deviance” of the women. The women broke their standard role of their society, and insisted change. They broke away with all their weak and inferior labels. They proved themselves not to be fainty, and inferior, but as equally superior to the men. The women no longer became what their society wanted them to be. They became individual citizens of the human race. And were not thought of as just “women”, but rather “WOMEN!”, said with respect.
Moving along in time we come across a beautiful play done by Shakespeare, As You Like It (AYLI). AYLI is a romantic comedy. Within this comedy we see many gender issues arise. The play starts out with the typical stereotype. The women are considered weak, fainty Ect… While the men are portrayed as strong and bold. This is a very common stereotype, which exists heavily today. Some form of this stereotype can be seen in almost any play, or movie for that matter. This play starts off by portraying the two main female characters of the play, Rosalind and Celia, as the typical stereotype. These girls seem very delicate, and fainty. They are considered royalty and that could be the reason they are portrayed as fainty, or delicate. You get the image of the girls being soft and feathery.
But all this changes very suddenly. This change occurred because Celia was exiled from the country. And since the two girls shared such a strong loving bond they decided they could not live apart. So the girls planed to run away together. But of course women cannot travel alone. How can a woman make it threw the wilderness by herself? Everyone knows women are not as smart as men are, they are just delicate “baby-poppers”. And that seemed to be the basic mentality of people back in the sixteenth-century.
So now all they need is a man on their journey. A man basically just for protection. But the two girls decide to dress up Rosalind in drag for their trip. This issue of crossdressing brings out a whole new perspective of the play. The issue of crossdressing is a prominent feature in the plot of AYLI. The reason the issue of crossdressing has such influence on the plot is because most of Orlando’s courtship of Rosalind takes place while Rosalind is disguised as a man, calling herself “Ganymede.” Rosalind-as-Ganymede persuades Orlando to pretend that Ganymede is his beloved “Rosalind.” In her male disguise, Rosalind takes over roles within the fiction of the play that, in its time, were exclusively male, such as the role of choosing her own mate and directing his courtship of her. These sorts of roles would conventionally belong to her father, Duke senior.
Rosalind even takes over the play’s epilogue, its formal farewell to the audience, commenting on how unusual it is for the female lead to do so. But, of course, as “she” reveals in her epilogue, “she”, the actor playing Rosalind on the sixteenth-century English stage, is male, as were all the actors who played female roles on the stage of Shakespeare’s time. Just like in the times of Aristophanes.
We come across an interesting problem with gender in this play. And that is the complications of acting the roles of gender, where a boy plays a girl playing a boy pretending to be a girl. In today’s society for a crew to go to this extent just seems silly.
Our Town written by Thornton Wilder is an exceptional play. This play is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize and considered an American masterpiece. The time setting, and location in this play is a key aspect of the gender issues that arise.
The women are very obviously perceived as second class citizens. They seem to be almost “slave-like.” The women are stuck in Grover’s Corner, unless the men want to leave. This perspective of second class citizen can be easily seen when Mrs. Gibbs wants to take a vacation to Paris. She desperately wants to go, but she cannot simply go to her husband and say “I would like to go to Paris dear.” She has the money, but it is up to Mr. Gibbs to take the vacation. Mr. Gibbs would have to be the person to come up with the idea and say “you know what a vacation sounds good, got any ideas honey”, and then Mrs. Gibbs would have to say “well Paris sounds good.” And if Mr. Gibbs would not want to go, they simply wouldn’t. And that was the case, Mr. and Mrs. Gibbs never made it to Paris. This can be related to AYLI, in the sense that women don’t travel alone. This is just an example how women were perceived.
The men in this play seem to be the “all mighty knowledgeable”, while the women on the other hand are pictured to be almost stupid. Men had the go in almost every conversation. Women were just these unintelligent creatures made to take care of the home while the men provide. Very old fashion mentality threw out this play. You get a sense of suffocation and entrapment that is directed on to the women. The woman couldn’t just pack there stuff and leave the town, with out ridicule and hardship. They seemed to be “stuck”, in the sense that is very hard to leave a small town.
The role of the women was to get married, stay home and take care of the kids, while the man provides and puts food on the table. This view is still somewhat shared with our society today.
In conclusion it would be safe to say that all three plays relate gender issues to their time set. We can see many similarities within all three of these plays, and we can also see similarities that arise with our culture today. Even though today women are not treated as bad as they were. It is sad to say that even in the year 2000 women don’t have equal rights and don’t get equal treatment. Women still make .70 cents to the dollar as men. Their role is still to be the homemaker. And they hold such a small percentage of any policy making position. To think of all the lost talent and all the advances that could have been made to help our society is truly a sad and inhuman thought, that can get any one angry with our history. If one was to really think about it, the human race has not made much progress with the treatment of women.