A Modern Female Image in A Woman on a Roof

Essay by JoeylinUniversity, Bachelor'sA, November 2014

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A Modern Female Image in A Woman on a Roof

Doris Lessing, the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature, is described as the epicist of the female experience, with skepticism, fire and visionary power that have subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny. With the subtle depiction of women and their life experiences, Lessing illustrates her deep concern of women's social status and rights. In A Woman On a Roof, one of the twentieth century's pivotal works of fiction speaking for women, Lessing demonstrates an unnamed woman bathing sunshine on the roof in the middle of summer in London, who has fortune, leisure and taste to enjoy herself under sunshine while three male workers make all efforts to approach her. No matter what method they try, the woman pays no attention to them with dignity.

The image of this woman on the roof rebels against the traditional female image.

In tradition, women are considered as the subordinates of men, and angels in the house. The ultimate goal of women's life is to maintain their family and take good care of their husbands and sons. Women are called upon to behave according to the moral code of the male-dominated society rather than their own wills, and they are posited as materials rather than human beings. Men appreciate women's beauty, judge women's functions by their housekeeping skills, and rule over women's body and mind. Once women no longer meet the requirement of men to be obedient and conservative, they will be condemned by social pressures. In this story, the woman differs from traditional women in terms of appearance, behavior and language, showing Lessing's advocacy of feminism.

The detailed description of the woman's appearance challenges the traditional ideas that women have to dress conservatively and plainly. In the context, the woman...