The Women's Room

Essay by antataUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, April 2009

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Literature not only narrates stories but also is a reflection of society and history. It provides historians with a deeper understanding of a particular historical period. Marilyn French’s classic Feminism novel, The Women’s Room recaptures history in America during the 1950s and the early 1970s and involves a great deal of social values and attitudes of that time. It accurately gives readers an insight into the second-wave feminist movement in its heyday in the United States.

To begin with, the most obvious use of The Women’s Room as a historical resource is that it explicitly contains the details of the lives and experiences of women during 1950s and early 1970s and analyses the reason of the outbreak of feminism. It follows the evolution of Mira Ward, the central character. Mira and her friends epitomize American women of that period. Since she marries Norm, a medical student and gives birth to two sons, Mira becomes a housewife and does tedious, draining and boring chores every day.

At that time, most women lived such lives without prospects, so French depicts the easiest way to destroy a woman when she writes, "You don't have to rape or kill her, you don't even have to beat her. You can just marry her"(French, 108). The impact of the devastation imposed by the traditional male-dominated society on women was exceptionally grave. Mira and her friends all suffer physical and psychological abuses from their self-centered husbands. Eventually, most of them separate with their husband. They either are sent to madhouse or fell into poverty. Mira gradually realizes that no matter how diligently she does her chores, it seems to Norm, all she does are trivial, while Norm is the center of the family and controls and possesses everything including his wife. Men even can desert their wives...