IB Sample World Literature Paper

July 10, 2012 by ambiemouse  
Published in Women

Feminist aspects in Madame Bovary and Like Water for Chocolate that undermine male characters.

There are multiple aspects of feminism in Madame Bovary by Flaubert and Like Water for Chocolate by Esquivel. The authors utilize devices such as diction, setting, and symbolism in order to present female characters that exhibit feminist aspects that undermine male characters and provide strong women in both novels. In both Madame Bovary and Like Water for Chocolate the female characters show feminist aspects such as, the women having control over the portrayal of the culture and expression in the novels. The women also have control in matters that are usually taken care of by men in society and the male characters do not have significant power or influence in the relationships with the women in the novels.     

            A commonality between Madame Bovary and Like Water for Chocolate is that the women in the novels are in control of the culture and expression presented in the novel. There are other characters who express opinion throughout each novel however because the main characters are female, their perspectives are the view points that are mostly seen and accepted as valuable to the novel. Emma Bovary in Madame Bovary constantly gives her opinion about the places that she lives and wants to go. At one point she states “I hate everyday heroes and restrained emotions like the ones in real life” (Flaubert, 97). Emma states her view on culture and expresses an opinion that can be very true and contributes to her escapist characteristics. Women were excluded from power; an opinion is valued as power and Flaubert allows her opinion to be clearly stated through diction such as “hate.”  Emma Bovary had control over expressing herself and whomever she wanted to in her thoughts. The author allowed the reader into most of her thoughts however for most of the male characters the reader was only able to have knowledge of their actions. The author also uses symbolism to display the undermining of male characters. Emma Bovary had been defying society and there wasn’t any doubt as she was “stepping down from the Hirondelle, wearing a masculine-styled tight-fitting waistcoat” (Flaubert, 188). This is seen as the ultimate defiance to the society she lives in, this also expresses her culture in France. Clothing and appearance in public was very important to ones reputation. Her change in habits and clothing provide the reader with the evidence that she began to take on the characteristics that her husband was lacking in their relationship. The control of expression and culture is also displayed in Like Water for Chocolate.–Sentences Ommitted. The women’s eyewitness accounts aren’t distorted however because they are provided as the true story. It is later stated that “Tita saw the incident from a completely different perspective than the rebel soldiers” (Esquivel, 56). This also undermines male characters because only Tita’s perspective of the event is provided over the men suggesting that their account of the situation is irrelevant and/or wrong.

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