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A Sicilian Romance, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 328

Essay

Part 1:

A Sicilian Romance is arguably most compelling in its exposure of the subjugation of the female within highly structured and stratified, i.e., aristocratic, class societies. Hence, in a motif that is familiar to the other stories we have read, Julie is forced to marry someone she does not desire: the autonomy of the female protagonist is thus violated by the demands of a social structure. What the novel thus does best in this regard is force us to think about the relationship between class and gender: are these both forms of control, that ultimately rely upon presuppositions and even violence to re-enforce legitimacy? Would the liberation of the female, i.e., allowing her freedom in determining her future, automatically lead to a destruction of the class system as a whole? It is only when the Marquis dies, the patriarchal figure responsible for Julie’s imprisonment, that she flees: the reuniting of Julia, Ferdinand (her brother), and their mother as a happy family seems to indicate that without the patriarchal figure (who is also monarchy) new arrangements of the family are possible, arrangements that are more conducive to a more “democratic” happiness.

Part 2:

The comment rightly underscores the mistreatment of the female as one of the crucial aspects of the novels in question. What my colleague ultimately emphasizes is the often brutal and violent treatment of women in these stories. Whereas such violence and brutality could be written off as necessary to writing a “gripping” narrative, this overlooks the very real male dominance in these societies. By showing the violence and mistreatment of women in such an explicit manner, the novels arguably force the reader to question our social arrangements and thereby re-think how women are treated in male-dominated societies. My colleague’s remarks also sparked the following question: is a patriarchal society always a violent society towards women? I would have to say yes, in so far as there is an uneven distribution of social power, which inevitably leads to violence.

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