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This book American Jezebel written by Eve LaPlante focuses on the society in the "new world" and on religion. A society where the role of of a woman was viewed to be of sub importants to a man. It was commonly viewed that a woman of that time should take care of her children, cook and take care of the house. The majority of woman could not read or write and Ann was well educated. For Ann these "old world" rules need to be broken and woman should have the right to be educated. Anne's viewpoint of woman does not go well with the "man's world" especial with the judge of governor John Winthrop.
The book by Eve LaPlante focus on the American religion in which the argument is that it is lowly practiced. To this end, this book is a strong condemnation of this and the woman Jezebel is used to define this condemnation. In the book, she is given all sorts of names like Satan and a witch which in contemporary interpretation refers to somebody who generally posses evil or is evil herself. She is described as dangerous to the common living by others and the association she tried to develop with other people was viewed as aiming to win them towards her living style. An evil woman, and guilty of foul evil is the best description of this woman; however, some of these talks as highlighted by Eve were just to scare her potential followers or those who would have attempted to be lured by her kind of living style. It is a kind of book which goes contrary to the arguments that God can only be found in the bible rather than following other people.
Woman in the Book: American Jezebel
In this book, what is most common is the depiction of the woman in the contemporary and early American living. This book is dedicated to Anne Hutchinson, and she is regarded as the woman who defined the Puritans. According to LaPlante (2004), the woman is seen to be somebody who can keep her strength and actually had a reputation she had built around for herself. She can therefore be said to be a kind of woman who defied the kind of contemporary thinking that existed then regarding the woman in the society. She continued until she was executed by the law or until when the civil justice saw it wise to get hold of her. Even though she went with many names like Satan or evil, she went down as the woman who stood by what she believed in, and that is the kind of woman who struggles to achieve their status and recognition in the society.
The excommunication as defined by LaPlante (2004) is the trial in 1637 where the woman or Ann Hutchinson was found to be actually heretic and was banished from the land, that is, Massachusetts. This is the colony over which Mr. Winthrop was the governor, and the courts that decided on her fate refer to the ones that he presided over. Therefore, it can be said that Mr. Winthrop was the accuser and the person who determined her excommunication from the land. The larger society tries to find fault in this woman, and to a large extent, they got hold of her so as to prevent her from achieving what she dreamt of. More particularly, she can be described as a woman who sought equal status for all in the land. The woman for long has been regarded as inferior and as somebody who cannot perform some duties. However, in this book, we find this woman as somebody who contravenes these conventions or cultures, and goes for areas that were a preserve of the men folk.
LaPlante (2004) is more categorical that the places of the woman is in raising the children and take care of the husbands. By going against this convention held by the society, she was seen as going against the Puritans. She was judged heavily by these Puritans that came from the English law. More astonishing is that the law that they applied is the one they had viewed as oppressing when the English law was being applied to them. While applying it on the woman, they therefore tried to apply the law selected, that is, they wanted to banish the woman when in real sense, they themselves contravened it earlier. LaPlante as the author of this book therefore presents to the reader her contempt for these people who only act according to their feelings and not according to what their conscience directs them. The subsequent trials by the church are also to be blamed for this kind of thinking where, while it is viewed that the church should try to bring together its people towards God's mercy, it however tried to find fault in people just for the sake of persecution when they contravene its laws.
The husband to man was criticized for taking instructions from her and this is because Anne was not a puritan. They had come to establish a living in American and follow the laws and ideas of the state as well as those of the church. By seemingly controlling him, it is seen as going against the kind of freedom which the founding fathers fought for, and when she really went against what many can follow, she is seen as somebody practicing outside laws. She interpreted the scriptures to suit her thinking of the living, and this is one of the strict laws from the church. The collaboration of the church and the state seemed to work well in trying her in both courts. However, it is the state courts that finally decided to banish her from the land, while the church contributed a lot to this decision. The likes of Governor John Winthrop and other men saw her dealings and how she behaved in the society as a real threat to the purity and the sweetness of the colony that was established. To them, her death was justice done from God, but this was to be reviewed during the time of Michael Dukakis as the governor of Massachusetts in the year 1987.
The author of this book has two sides to this kind of judgment, and while she waves the flag over her head, she was on the other side not claiming to do it. She views this as the attack to the woman power, and she develops a strong paronia towards the practice. She calls men as hypocrites for their one sided kind of thinking, while Anne is given by her writing a balanced approach to life. Men are portrayed as people who are very cold, ruthless, and clinical and people who are stark religion (LaPlante, 2004). Anne is a role model to all kinds of women who may possess the direction of their lives rather than wait for men to rule their destiny. Even though they are not directed to be contemptuous of what men direct them, she should as well reject the rules that they think just pin them to the ground or the wall and not move sideways. The call by the author is for the freedom to ring but not the kind of freedom that the forefathers tried to mould for the men living the woman to search for their own.
Societal Parity in the Book; American Jezebel
Apart from the role of the woman in the society as presented in our earlier discussion, the theme of gender parity also strongly comes out. According to LaPlante (2004), Anne was made to stand in the courtroom to face 20 males. To summarize this situation, it is one woman against 20 males, and going by the gender parity or societal parity, it can be seen that this rule was highly violated. By extension, this is the kind of social disparity that existed in the American society where the woman was denied most of her rights. For example, she was not to vote, teach outside the confines of her home, and could not hold any public office. All those were the preserves of men who continued to match ahead while spitting on the faces of the women. To this end, our reformist Anne is thus somebody who wanted to reverse this trend and make the whole society realize that women are as important as the men in the society.
The woman in this book can be seen to be somebody who is also powerful and as somebody who can drive the society forward as far as she is given a chance. For example, according to LaPlante (2004), Anne made a perfect defense of herself even though the judges could hear none of this. The case was determined that her behavior was a demeanor to the whole society even when she had a sizeable backing from the women and other like minded people in the society. Largely, it can be seen that it was a case between a woman (Anne) and a man (Governor Winthrop). Men were the majority of the people in the court, where, the ratio was 1: 20. With such, there was no way she could have won bearing in mind that most of the men were against the social reforms that she was trying to bring.
As highlighted by the author Eve LaPlante, this kind of story illuminates the concept of gender discrimination, lack of equal rights and no or little freedom of speech. However, the lesson we get from this is that she had showcased a kind of extra ordinary woman whose achievements and social fight for reforms were astonishing, especially when this is contextualized in the kind of era the actors were in. She wielded political power that can only be termed as actually remarkable, but this was down trashed by the judges where in our context, we can term them as men judges. Going by this, the men who enjoyed much of backing from the forefathers were deemed to win in this war. However, she left a legacy that probably set the stage for letting the woman in the society gain some rights too.
Eve LaPlante wants to give uncommon life of a feminist, and a woman generally and could be viewed as evil or satanic life in a society with its own religious believes. He recounts the life and achievements of a woman in such early times as the 17th century. More astonishing is that the kind of feminism that she had was put in the political struggles which even to the today's societies, it has become a preserve of the men. When a woman attains some political levels such as becoming a president; for example, in Liberia, it is something that is celebrated across the societies, or when a woman was elected to the post of the speaker of the national assembly of Tanzania, it was viewed as a major milestone. The sad story however, is that, such efforts by Anne were down trodden by the likes of the judge and the men in general. To culminate all, if such efforts were not curtailed by the judges, the woman in the society could not have achieved near parity or there could be sharing of some roles in the society between the males and the females. The woman still has a long way to go before she can achieve anything that can be said to be tangible in regard to gender or societal parity, and some societies talk of a third of the opportunities to be preserved for the woman.
The 'Balanced Approach' in American Jezebel
The name Jezebel is seen to be taken from the biblical Jezebel who is regarded by the Christians as an evil or a ruler who persecuted anything coming from God. From this analysis, Eve LaPlante could have used this title to refer to the woman whose works can only be termed by the majority as evil or satanic. However, these words can be put in italics, bracket, or in quotes to mean that they are not the real words that can be described of such a progressive woman. Generally, this woman represents the modernity, and the only difference is that she acted as a modern woman in the past. She represents a balanced approach to life where she did not go against what is believed or practiced but wanted everyone to have a fair representation. The woman did not have a public role to play, and therefore, what she fought for was a balanced approach in regard to the two genders.
Her non conformity to the conventions is praised by the author as bold steps towards redeeming the face of the woman. Perhaps, the work by Eve LaPlante can be criticized because she writes from the point of view of a woman, and if it were a man who was writing this story, perhaps it could have a been a different story altogether. Therefore, the balanced approach here could also be seen as biased and does not represent or accommodate the views of the other gender. She is a woman, and her main character is a woman, and therefore, while we can praise it for the approach the book has taken, it is also critical of the use of balanced approach.
Some conventions can be good and as well be bad, and from our analysis, the conventions presented are to be criticized. The woman is made to follow demeaning conventions or culture practices that put her in the kitchen, and a caretaker for the family members. The role of the man is not seen in the confines of a house as those of a woman, but out there in the public domain. If a woman was to break these and open the gate to the public domain, she is to be criticized and prosecuted, and the worrying trend is that even the church is entangled as a defender of the societal values or state laws. Our woman is persecuted for what she believed to be the true reforms in the society while the man came out as victorious.