Feminist Criticism

July 14, 2011 by James M  
Published in Women

Loooking at Dead Poets Society with a feminist criticism point of view.

Panel Discussion Post-Viewing Task: Feminist Criticism

Feminist criticism focuses on studying and advocating women’s rights. Three fundamental aspects of feminist criticism are gynocriticism, the Marxist approach, and the modern approach. Gynocriticism refers to the study of women as writers, and the Marxist approach (British feminism) is the idea that power structures, being male-dominated, oppress and influence women. Moreover, the modern approach argues that men and women use language, view reality, make judgements, and solve problems in different manners. Hence, feminist criticism works towards gender equality.

Watching “Dead Poets Society” whilst keeping the feminist criticism theory in mind allows one to come to the realization that the movie contains many situations involving the repression of women. The movie features one of the top schools in the country, an all-male prep school, and hence brings about the idea that only males are worthy enough to receive the finest education. The famous line used throughout the movie, “Oh Captain, My Captain” is a famous line from a poem by Walt Whitman, a male poet. All of the writers and poets mentioned in the movie were male. In connection to the Marxist approach, the women depicted in the movie were rarely seen to have professions outside of the home. Hence, the female class was degraded in this film.

Finally, the group which presented the Freudian theory was very effective as they clearly identified the concepts of the id, the ego, and the superego. This was very interesting as these three ideologies influence many decisions teenagers make in life, as can be seen in the movie. Neil’s ego and superego controlled much of his life. His superego is shown when he obeys both his parents and school masters; His ego when he decides to give up the school paper, according to his father’s will, and focuses on more school work. However, he was dominated by his id to the point when he did not care about anything anymore, and he consequently stars in the play. In reality, the Id results in sexual desires, feelings, and urges, and this results in people looking at women as sex objects, rather than individual people. This concept is connected to the feminist criticism theory as looking upon women in this way affects how people treat them. The film shows the Dead Poets Society looking at a picture of a naked girl in the cave, indicating how the men in their society regard women. Hence, the Freudian theory provided a great insight on the film, and related to the feminist criticism.

Liked it

Tell us what you're thinking...

comments powered by Disqus