Women writing

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Introduction: Women Writing

Since 19th century, women have looked for a place in Australian literature, but they were excluded and ignored. In their writings, they talked about their role and their place in society. Their condition of wife and mother hadn't changed in years and they were looking for the recognition of the men. Aboriginal women were worry about the change of life, from bush to the city, from the quite life to a busy one. Foreigner women were worry about their life in the new land and their place in it.

However the most common topics were their place in society, relationships, marriage, the gender roles, the difference between women and men and the paper of the women as a mother and a wife. They have been always under the men, they were not free to be their self, and they had to accept the rules that society marked them. As we can see in many stories they were not happy or pride to be something that they had to be obligatorily. When it changed, when a woman decided to be what they wanted to be, she was criticized not only for men, but for women too. Sometimes the hypocrisy was something latent in Australian women.

In 1970s the women began to be heard. Then, appeared a lot of women writers rising questions about their role. It gives them the opportunity of express their self and understand their role of women. The dominant tradition of Australian literature has been a masculine one. Women Writers have challenged its representations both of Australian life and Women's place in Australian society. 1980s was a moment of glory for the women writer, a phase in the national literary history when women writers and readers entered the mainstream. It was a moment when women began to look for their independence from the men. This means that they began to work out and in home and they look up their child. It didn't demonstrate only that women could make the same work as men, but they could make a harder work.

For women, the literature was very important to express their feelings and personal experiences. From different points of views they try to draw the most important representation of the woman, where they are the main character and they tell their real expectations of the world and their lives.

In this essay I'll try to explain the different representation of the women: the woman as a girl looking for marriage, the woman as a friend, the woman as a wife, the woman as a mother, the woman as a housewife. I will support all these topics with Australian short stories all written by women.

1. The Woman As A Girl Looking For Marriage: Obligations And Wishes

The woman always has been educated to be a good wife. She has to learn things about dancing and playing piano and look pretty to make the gentlemen like her. When she was introduced in society she had to wear the prettiest clothes. She was taking to balls where she had to wait for the man to take her to dance.

This is the topic of the story called And women must weep by “Henry Handel Richardson” (a pen name).

In this story, the author tells how a girl is prepared by her aunt and other women to go to her first ball. In the ball any man wants to dance with her because the other girls are prettier.

The story is divided into three parts, the preparation and the arrival, the events of the ball and the leaving. In the first part, Dolly is help by her aunt Cha and Miss Biddons. They help her to look pretty and to dance, and tell her how she was to be to not frighten the gentlemen. When they arrive to the ball, Dolly is very nervous, she doesn't know if she really wants to be there, if she wants to be pretty to make men like her. But she has the obligation of going and look like that. In the ball, she is sited dawn near her aunt, and no man takes her to dance. The only one is the son of Miss Biddons because he is obligated by her mother. She looks around her and sees that every girl is very pretty and they are all dancing. In the last part, she leaves the ball and when she arrives home she begins to cry. She doesn't understand what has happened because she had made everything she had told to do; she says it wasn't her fault. She was angry; she wanted to be taken to dance, and to talk with the men like the other girls. Although inside, she thinks that it is not the most important, she wanted to attract the gentlemen, because this is what the women must do, attract the men and weep when they are not chosen by them.

In the story the paper of her aunt and Miss Biddons is very important. They are all the time telling her what to do, how smile, how dance, what to say. They are trying she gets a good man, but really they don't understand that Dolly has to be “her”, she has to be as she is, she mustn't act, and this is the dilemma she has. If she is as she must be, men don't like her, and she can't be as she really is because she will frighten the gentleman. The important for her aunt is that she gets a man; this is the most important thing for a young girl and her parents.

The life of a young girl is based on looking for a good man who wants to marry with her. And the balls are like a ritual to get a gentleman. Maybe she didn't want to go, but, when she was there she wanted to be like the other girls. It's like a game where the less pretty girls are not chosen to play, and maybe, she was not the less pretty one, maybe the gentleman was looking for other kind of woman.

Actually, this topic is not the same as then, now, women can take the men to dance, now she can be the first in taking contact, but then, they had to wait, and if the perfect man didn't chosen them, they had to resign their self. For that reason is very important the physical appearance, she has to be the most beautiful girl if she wants to get the most wonderful man.

This topic shows the sweetest face of the woman, because it shows a young girl who doesn't know anything about life, and she only cry, because she doesn't know what more she can do. It is a representation of a woman that has not learnt yet to fight.

2. The Woman As A Friend: Hypocrisy And Friendship

Another representation of the women is the woman as a friend. For a woman, her relationships are very important, but not only with man, but with other women too. But the friendship with another woman can be very different in spite of the circumstances. It can be a friendship between two women with the same point of view of the relationships or with a different one. If the point of view is the same, they may be together for a long time, until the marriage separates their ways. But if their points of view are different their friendship will not be very long. For two friends is very important to lean on their self where something goes wrong, but if they are have different concepts of the relationships they will never agree the other one.

An example of this topic is the short story Slow Dissolve, by Kate Grenville, an author of the 1980s. This is a story told in first person. It's a dialogue and an interior monologue of the main character.

It tells the story of two old friends meeting in their old flat. They were very different, and when they met, they try to be nice, but they really don't want to be it. Mirrie is the main character. She goes to get her things from her old flat, where she lived with Caroline. In the story, Mirrie makes a very detailed description of the movements of Caroline, she try to show Caroline like an envious woman. In the conversation they are all the time making destroyer commentaries.

Caroline is a woman who likes to be with old and rich man. She needs to have a relationship; she doesn't like to be alone, but nowadays is alone. Mirrie is a woman who likes to be alone, she says she doesn't like the marriage, but nowadays is alone. During the entire story they tell their lives like if they were wonderful.

Mirrie pretend to show Caroline's life as an unhappy life, but at the end of the story, the “wonderful” boyfriend of Mirrie seems to be not so wonderful, because he is impolite and an angry man.

This story doesn't show a strong friendship, it shows the hypocrisy of two women who are trying to compete. They both have a life they have not dreamt with but want to affect it.

It is a kind of game like in the English novel Vanity Fair, by William Thackeray, where every women affect they are rich and happy when really they aren't.

Like in the previous topic, The woman as a girl looking for marriage, in this one, the author represent a kind of women who thinks that she can't be happy without a relationship with a man, and when they have a boyfriend or a husband, they try to make other women envy her, although he is a bad man. The important for her is not the true, but what the other women think about her.

Something interesting in this story is that who tells the story is not a subjective character. She, Mirrie, tells the things like she sees them, not like they are, so the reader can think that the bad person is Caroline. Maybe it is not like that, maybe the bad person is Mirrie or maybe they are both good persons.

3. The Woman As A Housewife: Wife, Mother And Landlady

The woman has been sight always as the person in charge of the houseworks. She had to clean, cook, look after the children, etc. She could be the perfect housewife if her house was all clear, and if her husband and her children were happy.

But when women began to work, things began to change. Because she couldn't do the housework alone, she needed the help of someone, normally, her husband or her children. But in some cases, men didn't agree in doing the houseworks, so the women had to charge with everything.

An example of this topic is the short story Wednesdays and Fridays, by Elisabeth Jolley. This is a very interesting story because is narrated in an epistolary way.

In this story, Mabel Doris Morgan writes letter to her son. They live in the same house, but it seems that her son doesn't listen her asks. Her son, seems to be hopeless and she doesn't know another way to make her son pay attention to her.