A Literary Analysis of Short Stories by a feminist perspectiveIn almost every literature work there are specific gender roles. The genders should behave in different ways. This analysis of two literature work, Ernest Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants and my and Wiktoria Bujak’s modern interpretation of The Little Mermaid shows the issue with gender roles in the litterature world. By identifying the issues with gender roles, characters can fully develop and create a equal literature world. Although the original The Little Mermaid is often seen as feministic, it depends if you see it in the freedom of choice perspective and not the gender roles. The original story were written by Hans Christian Andersen and published in year 1837.
A year when women were not allowed to work, when women was seen as the weaker gender and masculinity were expected in every man. The book is about Ariel, the mermaid who falls in love with the human prince Eric and is told she will have an eternal soul if she marries him. To be able to be with him she has to sacrifice her voice and risk her life because if she does not marry the prince, she will die. The book were feministc if you compare it to other literary works written in the same time and the anti-feminist society.
Feminism is about equality and the freedom of making your own choices, not the society making it for you. If you see the book by this perspective the Little Mermaid is a feminist work. Ariel chooses to lose her voice to be able to be with the Prince, the Prince do not ask her to do it and therefore Ariel could be seen as a feminist icon. However the gender roles still exist in the story, the gender roles prevent the Ariel and prince Eric to be fully developed charters. It is the women who should give up her life, she who should adjust her life. If the gender roles were broken, the story could be more interesting by both Eric and Ariel making compromises to live together. Through the years the original story has been adopted into new literature work and movies and with the society changing and feminism evolving this affect the adaptations of the story and the gender roles change, but not only to the better.
In 1989 Disney released its movie adaptation of the story. The original Ariel is shy and quite, the way women should be in the time of the original story’s time and how the gender role were portrayed then. In the Disney version, Ariel is portrayed differently, she has a adventurous personality and is outgoing in the beginning and does not fall in to the gender role of a woman.
However in the end the characters fall into the expected gender roles with Prince Eric rescuing the helpless Ariel with his braveness and masculinity by killing the villain. It it also Ariel father who helps Ariel to have legs again and making her dream come true. Once again proving that girls is deping on guys to rescue them and consequently the sparkling personality Ariel had in the beginning, fades away. Gender roles does not only affect the women in the literature and feminism is about destroying all expected roles and create equality between the genders. The Little Prince is written from the prince perspective and the gender roles is switched. The Prince is giving up his life, it is he who is adjusting his life to be able to be with Ariel. “As I ran from my home I looked back at all the memories and a life I did not want anymore, I wanted her and only her.
” (Bujak; Svensson, 2017). He is also seen as the romantic one, a role the women often have. It is the women who should show her feelings and chase after the man. In The Little Prince the roles are switched. Ariel turns out to be the villain and leave the prince to his death.
Ariel lacks the sensitivity and compassion that is usually expected of a woman and is instead almost mocking the prince because he fell for her. The story is portraying a powerful woman with a helpless and submitting man. Although the gender roles is switched, the story is still uplifting a specific gender as the stronger one and therefore the new interpretation can still not be seen as a one hundred percent femistic story, not until both genders is seen as individuals with own personality and the power of the genders is balanced is the literature fully is equality fullied.
In the early 20th century man was the superior gender and the woman should obey him and this anti-feminism way of thinking is reflected in the short story Hills Like White Elephants. Hills Like White Elephants is written by Ernest Hemingway and published in 1927. The short story is about a man and woman having a conversation at a train station. As the conversation goes on it gets tense and it is revealed that there are a conflict between the couple. They start talking about an operation and because of various clues, it can be analysed as an abortion.
The woman is unsure about what she want to do, but the man seems to wish for the operation and is convincing the women to have it. The characters are a perfect example of how gender roles is applied in literature. The man is a masculine and dominant character, as mentioned before it fits the society’s gender roles. The man is trying to convince her by comforting her at the same time he is commanding her and convincing her that he knows best and she should obey him.
“‘Well,’ the man said, ‘if you don’t want to you don’t have to. I wouldn’t have you do it if you didn’t. But I know it’s perfectly simple.'”(sida, Hemmingway). The woman is seen as a weak character and is willing to give up her happiness to please the man. “And if I do it you’ll be happy and things will be like they were and you’ll love me?” (Hemingway 88). Gender roles can be seen in both of the short stories, but can also been seen that the stories reflect the society’s gender roles in the society the author lived in.
If analysing The Little Mermaid from the time perspective it was published, it is a very femistic, but not as the gender roles. In Hills Like White Elephants the women is (påverkad) by the man and compared to Ariel, the woman can not be seen as a feminist icon, she basically has no free will and needs to adjust to the man. Both Ariel and the woman need to make sacrifices to be with the person they love. There is no mentioning of the men making sacrifices, except in The Little Prince, where the gender roles are reversed.
But even in The Little Prince there is no mentioning of the other gender to make sacrifices, to adjust. If literature is to become equal, both genders need to adjust to each other and the choices the characters make should not be based on how the society think of the specific gender, it should be based on the induvidual.