Woman’s power has been underrated in various ways in the society. Women do not get awareness for contributing to the success of a generation. They are either alienated or ignored. Neither are they congratulated for straightforward upbringing children who sooner or later save the community from adversities and atrocities. Various ancient authors illuminated the inequalities, masculinity and feminism opposition that led to the suffering of women in several ways. Looking at the works of Han Kang The Vegetarian, Sophocles’ Antigone and Trifles, the subject matters of feminism, inferiority complex, gender inequality traverses across the plays. The consequences of usually follows as will be considered from the analysis of characters. In this essay, I will analyze the ideas of women role in society across the three plays to determine the common point of view of the ancient society.
Feminism in the Vegetarian
To start with, we will have a look at Han’s Book, The Vegetarian. The fiction written in an indigenous language (Korean) and translated into English by Debora Smith is the first Korean book to win Man Booker International Prize. The book zigzag writing style is fascinating with a twist in the themes and indirect passage of sensitive information such as sexual assault (Han). The books protagonist character Young-hye takes the victims of circumstances part being expedited through second parties like her father, her sister-in-law’s husband, and her husband. Her voice seems to be silent. Hang uses a calm voice to illustrate the untold suffering women goes by pursuing things that are against their expectations only to please family members. The protagonist is framed by the male counterparts jeopardizing their identity in the society.
In my opinion, it is imperative that the controversial theme of feminism in Korean culture contributes to the book’s popularity in the world. Hang effectively manages to highlight the Korean culture that shapes the behavior and identity of members of the family. Sometimes, family members demand too much from upcoming child drifting away from her ambitions and expectations to please them. When Young-hye quits eating meat, she tries to identify herself and pursue what satisfy her ambitions. However, these disrupt her immediate family members’ lives causing her to bear the consequences. Her brother deceives her to having sex with her, her father forces meat in her mouth too (Han and Deborah). The mistreatment signifies that she is unable to make a decision in the house even regarding her personal welfare as a woman without involving a man.
Young-hye suffers abuse and mistreatment due to the disobedience to the strict Korean patriarchal culture. Her primary oppressors are her husband, sister-in-law’s husband, and father. Her husband cornered her in a marriage without love. All she does in the house is to make her husband happy despite sexual harassment and psychological torture she undergoes. Her real father turns against her and physically molests leading to twisting of her wrist. What’s more, her brother-law tricks her into having sex (incest) that is against the tradition but later disowns her for making him cheat on his wife. Ultimately, the play ends with the sisters left together. They face rejection from all the men they had in their lives because of failing to comply with their expectations (Han and Deborah). It is discovered that the brother-in-law raped her sister too. In-hye (Yeong-hye’s sister) remains rooted in the culture but feel jealous that Young-hye made her freedom despite the price she had to pay.
The novella reveals the use of force in the Korean culture. Young-hye voluntarily drops eating meat because it brings nightmares. She sees bloody and ugly faces of animals slaughtered and swears never to take meet again. The act irritates the family members, and she slits her wrist. Through flashback, she recalls an ordeal when a dog bit her. The collar was tied behind a motorcycle and drove in a circle manner as a punishment. Later, the dog was strangled to death. This is exactly what replicates in her situation. She is forced to take meet her sister that makes her decides to commit suicide if she does not receive justice. Her mental illness is misrepresented as behavior to act like a tree. The novella explicitly reveals the secret behind the rampant suicides witnessed in Korea today.
Feminism in Antigone
The Sophocles uses Antigone to examine the difference between what the men think of women in the society. Creon stereotypically believes that men are the primary decision makers in Greek community whereas women should be ruled takers and secondary servitudes. Antigone however, disobeys the edicts and proceeds to burying Polynices. Ideally, Creon gave the anti burials command knowing that there were only women remaining from the Oedipus family. That is Antigone and Ismene. Ismene complies with the Creon’s directives despite knowing that they are the gods and natural laws. Creon being a close family member to Antigone, he supposedly wanted to curtail the fulfillment of promises between Polynices and Antigone that they will bury each other. The rebel against the society wishes land Antigone into jail sentence which causes her death like Young-hye in The Vegetarian novella.
There is gender inequality in the representation of women in Thebes’s kingdom. We can see that after the death of Oedipus, it is only sons that were anticipated to inherit the throne. What’s more, Creon who is not directly related to Oedipus takes the throne after the death of Oteocles and Ploynieces instead of the daughters. This shows the level of generation of female gender in the ancient Greek. Moreover, women voices during intervention for Antigone’s release go unnoticed. Ismene faces fall charges and being forced to admit crime she did not do. Creon’s wife tries to advice the King but in vain leading to her death because she feels useless without her only son who would have protected her.
As earlier mentioned in the Vegetarian, forceful actions against women to please the society leads to unfavorable atrocities especially death. In the Greek mythology, Antigone, more characters commits suicide. Committing suicide is acceptable when the going gets tragic. Antigone fights for her brother lifelessly claiming that life is irrelevant without the burial of her brother. She swears before the King that she fears nothing thus to lie about having buried Polynieces. Eurydice commits suicide because her life is not full without Heamon. This explains the reasons why the rate of suicidal deaths is more on women than men.
Feminism in Trifles
The feminism theory forms the contentious bone of Trifles exploring the treatment of women in the patriarchal society. Various feminism theorists questioned the reason of forcing women into subordination while their affairs looked at with great importance. Susan Glaspell comments on the negative impacts of women subordination leading to low self esteem and psyche. The play begins with death of Mr. John Wright where Mrs. Minnie Wright is solely found at the scene. She is immediately taken to jail. During the search of murder evidence by the authorities, it happens that the women (Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters) Mrs. Wright sent to pick apron and clothes come across the evidence purportedly used in strangling the deceased. Fortunately, they manage to hide the clues. Generally, Glaspell tries to say that there inequality in this society therefore men and women do not cooperate in matters of society.
Trifles cover feminism in terms of alienation faced by women in the patriarchal society. Men created long male rules that complicated women’s’ lives and treated their concerns as peripheral. Their voices were silenced by not recognizing them in the legislations. Instead of paying attention to women concerns, they were ignored and dismissed by placing them in lower classes. Susan connects the ordeal to current literature books where the field is filled by male therefore women jobs are hardly approved.
In conclusion, the three books exclusively dwell on the current movement of role of women and feminism. The protagonist characters find themselves mistreated by the male counterparts because of the patriarchal society structure. The grass is not green from either side. Considering The Vegetarian from Korea to Trifles by Susan Gaspell. It actually arises from the contradiction between the needs of the society and personal desires. Men stereotypically thinks that they are primarily owners of decision process leaving women as implementers without say. The plays reveal that women are mostly subordinated, ignored and dismissed before airing their concerns. The end result is death where all the feminine characters resolve to die after defiance.
Glaspell, Susan. Trifles. Kernerman Publishing Limited, 1992.
Han, Kang, and Deborah Smith. The Vegetarian: A Novel. , 2016. Print
Sophocles and Mark Griffith. Antigone. Cambridge [u.a.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999. Print.