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Soloman Macon Dead Women--英国论文代写范文精选

2015-11-17 | 来源:51Due教员组 | 类别:更多范文

Female Archetypes
 
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison was a story of development and growth. “In Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison depicts her characters’ efforts to explore the central conflict informing all her works—the fate of more or less rigid ways of understanding and of creating meaning in a ‘universe’ characterized by extreme fluidity,” stated Theodore Mason (176).
This was no truer than how it applied to the women that were present throughout the story. There were three female archetypes in the story that converged into the heart of Hagar: domestic, natural, and combination. Together, but in dissonance, the female archetypes came together and made up the world and circumstance of Hagar.
The sphere that the Macon Dead women inhabited and the first female archetype was domesticity. Nowhere was the “Cult of True Womanhood” more embodied than in Ruth, Corinthians, and Magdalena. Although the characters each played their own unique role within the family and had distinguishing features, what tied the women together in the Macon Dead family were their relationships with men and the core virtues or womanhood.
According to Barbra Welter, true womanhood is characterized by qualities of piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity, all of which the women in the Macon Dead household had (151). The Macon Dead women served as domestics in their household, contrasting sharply with the roles of Pilate, Reba, and Hagar. Ron David states, “Pilate’s house (with Reba & Hagar) was the Maternal Household where everyone was free and equal; Macon’s house was the Paternal Household, arranged in hierarchy from Boss to Invisible” (86).
This meant that life for the Macon Dead women was merely a state of existence, and they were supposed to support and embrace the lives, not of their own, but of their male family members. For example, in a tryst that developed between Magdalena and Milkman about responsibility and roles, Magdalena stated “When you slept, we were quiet; when you were hungry, we cooked; when you wanted to play, we entertained you …You have yet to wash your own underwear, spread a bed…or move a fleck of your dirt from one place to another” (Morrison 215). Magdalena not only stated her discontent with the Macon Dead household, but also illustrated how her existence centered on Milkman’s wants and needs.
The Macon Dead women did not have an independent existence away from serving men. They were tied to their roles at the expense of their own lives because that was what they learned from their mother. Jill Matus stated that Ruth was “fiercely protective of her son when his life is being threatened by Hagar, she nevertheless does little to prevent her daughters being pressed as small as she was” (82). Therefore, Magdalena and Corinthians were as much subject to oppression as their mother was, and they seemed altogether unimportant to the novel and to the Macon Dead family, but “when Corinthians woke up one day to find herself a forty-two-year-old maker of rose petals, she suffered a severe depression which lasted until she made up her mind to get out of the house” (Morrison 189).(51Due责任编辑:cari)
It can be inferred that staying at the Macon Dead household could have caused Corinthians death and continued the oppressive cycle that her mother endured. As a balm on their non-existent lives and as a form of escape, Ruth, Magdalena, and Corinthians sought solace in nature. There were the rose petals (artificial love) of Corinthians, the tree (growth) of Magdalena, and the garden (freedom) of Ruth that served as their escape from reality. In these outlets, the Dead women could mimic growth, something they were not able to do living in Macon Dead’s household. Ruth had a garden that served as her outlet where she planted flowers.
This served as a form of escape for her because of the oppressive environment she lived in. Even though Milkman noticed how unhappy his mother was, even while planting, he failed to make the connection that it was because of her life with his father. Milkman was telling Guitar that “The point is that she wanted to put those bulbs in. She didn’t have to. She likes to plant flowers. She really likes it. But you should have seen her face. She looked like the unhappiest woman in the world. The most miserable” (Morrison 104). The same situation was true for Milkman’s sisters. According to Jill Matus, “Lena and Corinthians, inhibited and diminished by their father, exist to show the overwhelming effects of the combination of powerfully repressive forces such as black patriarchy and white racism” (83).
Not only did Ruth serve as an example, but everyone else in the home that was not male served as an example too. Magdalena, who became the least developed of the three women, had one moment where she talked about the maple tree and its symbolism. Magdalena stated, “the flowers I’d stuck in the ground, the ones you peed on—well, they died, of course, but not the twig. It lived. It’s that maple” (Morrison 214). Magdalena said “of course” in reference to the flowers having died. Because of Milkman’s oppressive behavior, the flowers that represented freedom were snuffed out; however, the twig grew into a tree.
This gave hope to Magdalena and also calmed the rage she felt towards her brother. Her response, “I wanted to kill you. I even tried once or twice” (213). In essence, despite the Macon Dead women’s outlets that symbolized longed-for freedom, even as characters in Song of Solomon, they were still secondary and never really manifested or developed outside their role. It was worth noting that whether Morrison meant it as a warning or not, the Macon Dead women all survived, whether it was a menial existence or not.
Unlike the Macon Dead women, independent, natural, and mythical were the characteristics that described the second type of women in Song of Solomon. These characteristics are personified in Pilate and to a lesser degree in Reba. “Although there is something free and exciting about her household of women, its nutritional and other eccentricities, wonderful singing, and hand-to-mouth existence, Pilate’s line neither thrives nor survives,” said Jill Matus (84). The women in Pilate’s household, who identify as the antithesis to the Macon Dead women, were fiercely independent and did not answer to men.(51Due责任编辑:cari)
Moreover, because the Pilate household had no men to answer to, this often allowed them to create their own rules, habits, and behaviors. This was most evident in the way that Pilate’s household went about their daily lives. To begin with, Pilate supported herself from the selling and making of wine which was illegal at the time because they lived in a dry county. Additionally, the Pilate household did things differently. For example, there were never any meals that were planned, and Pilate may or may not bake hot bread, depending on if she felt like it, and there was Reba cutting her toenails with a kitchen knife (Morrison 29).
Occurrences like these were something that probably never happened in Milkman’s household; his father was controlling, and there were his mother and sisters to take care of things like dinner. Since Pilate lived without any male intrusion and was often rejected by society, independence was something that Pilate had to acquire in order to survive. In addition, before Pilate became the woman she was, she often tried to fit in with society and nab herself a husband or boyfriend, often ending with the men discovering she had no navel, becoming disenchanted, and leaving her.
When Pilate recounted the story of her younger years to Ruth, she told of such an occasion. As a result, “Pilate refused to marry the man, who was eager to take her as his wife. Pilate was afraid the she wouldn’t be able to hide her stomach from a husband forever. And once he saw that uninterrupted flesh, he would respond the same way everybody else had” (Morrison 147). This physical difference helped to account for Pilate’s personality and now unorthodox behavior, according to society. “Because she lacks a navel, Pilate is ostracized by many of the people she meets on her travels through Pennsylvania and Virginia.
She overcomes this ostracism by means of the power of love and self-knowledge,” said Theodore Mason (183). This provided for the framework and the inner-strength that Pilate had and also developed, in a way, in Reba. As a result to this unusual lifestyle that the Pilate household relished in, “…there are no others like her nor does she have female descendants who will raise and possess her for their futures” (Matus 84). Because Pilate was so estranged from society, Jill Matus believed that it was what led to the end of her family lineage, without a footprint left of her on earth (84).
The result of the domestic woman merged together with the natural self-reliant woman is the third female archetype seen in Song of Solomon. Hagar best exemplified this third archetype and stood in opposition to the Macon Dead women and her own household. Living with her mother at Pilate’s house, Hagar had already adopted some of Pilate’s characteristics, but, in the end, she still struggled with her own womanhood. A case in point was how Hagar chased and obsessed over Milkman and their lost love.(51Due责任编辑:cari)
Often, Hagar found herself brooding about Milkman first thing is the morning: “It literally knocked her down at night, and raised her up in the morning, for when she dragged herself off to bed, having spent another day without his presence, her heart beat like a gloved fist against her ribs. And in the morning…it yanked her out of a sleep swept clean of dreams” (Morrison 127). Even in Hagar’s dreams, she struggles to reconcile the two halves of her personality.
Hagar maintained her independent personality by never having tried to marry Milkman, just as long as they were still lovers, she was fine. However, Milkman believed otherwise. When recollecting one Christmas about Hagar, he thought about how she was no longer appealing, mostly because she was so willing and gave in easily and never put up much of a fight anymore to sleep with him (Morrison 91). Milkman thought, “Now, after more than a dozen years, he was getting tired of her” (Morrison 91). Milkman seemed to completely miss that point that since it had been a dozen years and she never pressured him to marry her already, she was not likely to start pressuring him now. It was not until after her rejection that she began exhibiting signs of the domestic female.
In her last frenzied attempt to win Milkman’s love, Hagar illustrated how she had a distorted view of self-image and was not able to meet the standard of beauty that she believed Milkman had. In one of the most memorable lines in the story, Hagar exclaimed, “No wonder… Look at that. No wonder...Look at how I look. I look awful. No wonder he didn’t want me” (Morrison 308). Without any role models to look up to, she struggled in the middle between these two standards of living. She, shamelessly and unabashed, tried to throw herself at Milkman’s feet one last time, but instead died of a broken heart.
In a response from Toni Morrison about her character Hagar, she said it is precisely because she lacked the appropriate role models that she is unaware of how to act. Morrison said, “Her daughter Hagar had even less of an association with men as a child, so the progression is really diminishing of their abilities because of the absence of men in a nourishing way in their lives (Morrison qtd in Awkward 144). It is worth noting that Hagar personified more closely today’s modern woman, trying to do a balancing act between domestic housewife and independent equal. In the end, she died, the entire Pilate household died, and all that was left were the women in the Macon Dead household, disgruntled and unsatisfied.
Not only was this novel a typical bildungsroman in the way that it detailed Milkman’s life, Morrison’s thoughts on female roles and development can also be inferred, however subtle. Not surprising, this novel was written and published around the time of the second wave of the women’s rights movement. Song of Solomon is a story that not only dealt with the hard day-to-day issues a black family faces, but also has feminist undertones that can not be ignored. Even in contemporary America, the faces of these female archetypes can still be seen. Unfortunately, in Song of Solomon, however, these female roles converged into a vertex of dismay and regret—Hagar, the knife-wielding, rejected lover.(51Due责任编辑:cari)

 
Works Cited
Awkward, Michael. "Unruly and Let Loose: Myth, Ideology, and Gender in Song of
Solomon." Negotiating Difference: Race, Gender, and the Politics or Positionality. Ed. Houston A. Baker. Black Literature and Culture. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1995. 137-154.
David, Ron. "Song of Solomon." Toni Morrison Explained: A Reader's Road Map to the
Novels. New York: Random House, 2000. 73-98.
Matus, Jill. "Song of Solomon: raising Dead fathers." Toni Morrison. Ed. John Thieme.
Contemporary World Writers. Manchester: St. Martin's Press, 1998. 72-84.
Morrison, Toni.Song of Solomon. New York: Vintage International, 2004. 3-337.
Mason, Theodore O. "The Novelist as a Conservator: Stories and Comprehension in Toni
Morrison's Song of Solomon." Toni Morrison. Ed. Harold Bloom. Modern Critical Views. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1999. 171-188.
Welter, Barbara. "The Cult of True Womanhood, 1820-1860." American
Quarterly18Summer 1966. 151-174. JSTOR. 28 Mar. 2008 <http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0003-0678%28196622%2918%3A2%3C151%3ATCOTW1%3E2.0.CO%3B2-H>.
(51Due责任编辑:cari)

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