Literature Representations of Women

Essay by onesmartwomanCollege, UndergraduateA, March 2006

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Essay Question: Discuss the representation of women in at least 3 works from 3 different cultures, identifying similarities and differences. Be sure that you select at least one work from before the midterm and one after the midterm.

Before the advent of women as professional writers, literature portrayed them as an inferior class. This is exemplified in the book of Genesis and Euripides' "Medea". It was not until Christine de Pizan's The Mutation of Fortune and The Book of the City of Ladies that women collectively began to realize their own self-worth and have an appreciation of their own accomplishments.

The book of Genesis is ancient Hebrew lore about the creation of the world. In our text, there are two different accounts of the creation of women. Both accounts differ in the way that they portray them. One account purports that "God created men in his own image... male and female created he them."

(Genesis, 57) This passage indicates that men and women were, on some level, equal. In the other account; however, god creates woman from the rib of a man (Genesis, 58). The consequences of this account are twofold. Firstly, this gives men the ability to do something that men have never been physically capable of: creating life. Secondly, by the sheer order of the creation of people, it is indicated that women are secondary.

Versions of Genesis do not; however, deviate from one common theme: women ended paradise and will forever pay for their sins. In the book, god commanded that they not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve, misled by the serpent, ignored the mandate, and gave the fruit to her husband, Adam. When god confronted the two, Adam avoided responsibility. God's response was to punish Eve, "I will...