Feminist Influence in Nervous Conditions
Feminism is defined as "an approach to textual analysis having its roots in the Progressive Era in the early decades of the twentieth century" (Bressler 269). While this definition gives us a basic idea about the roots of feminism, it is difficult to say exactly when Feminism began. Like Marxism, Feminism is an approach which has some core beliefs, but there is not complete agreement between feminists. Feminists want to analyze the stereotypes which have been created about women and why they occur. The stereotypes that women are working to change are the ideas that women are fragile, emotional, pure, and should maintain a subordinate role to men. These stereotypes have been created by males because women are trapped in a patriarchal society.
In the 1960's and 70's women began to find that these stereotypes were being circulated through works published in the canon. The canon is an unofficial list of one hundred pieces of literature which were considered to be "great books."
While female authors were a part of these groups, these books were mainly written by men. Feminists felt that because these were the most popular books being offered to readers, men were holding the power in being able to create any image of a woman that they wanted. Authors such as Mary Wollstonecraft feel that literature is a force which is corrupting to society to adhere to these unfortunate ideals for women.
Bressler explains that the main goal of feminism is "to change this degrading view of women so that all women will realize that they are not a nonsignificant Other, but that each woman is a valuable person possessing the same privileges and rights as every man" (144). Feminism is more than just a literary critique; it is a revolutionary movement.