Doris Lessing’s To Room Nineteen

October 15, 2017 Cultural

The construct of Simone de Beauvoir’s myth of adult females discussed in ‘The Second Sex’ was still really much prevalent in the sixtiess when ‘To Room nineteen’ was set and surely at the clip of ‘Strange instance of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ . In the sixtiess. in conformity with the 2nd moving ridge of feminism. adult females were thought to be more witting and cognizant of their rights as a adult female because of the media ( Hanisch ) 1 and this is what we. as a reader could easy infer from the beginning of Doris Lessing’s ‘To room nineteen’ . This new- found consciousness nevertheless some would reason was non the instance during the 1960s and is surely non the instance in the text.

‘The Strange instance of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ is a male dominated thriller where female instabilities are ne’er exposed as females are barely of all time mentioned ( Shuo and Dan. 2012 ) 2. This Victorian marginalisation of adult females was really common at the clip and besides links to adult female being classified. harmonizing to Simone de Beauvoir in ‘The Second Sex’ as the ‘Other’ ( de Beauvoir. 1949 p. 16 ) 3 and non worthy of being the topic of the novelette. Both texts involve the impression of a devil pickings over the chief character. whether this devil is a consequence of their ain creative activity or a consequence of society. The undermentioned essay will try to pull similarities and differences between the two texts in relation to Simone de Beauvoir’s ‘The Second Sex’ .

‘The Second Sex’ is arguably one of the earliest efforts to undertake human history from a feminist perspective4 and expresses the thought that work forces basically oppress adult females by qualifying them as the ‘Other’ . It states. ‘the minute when adult male asserts himself as topic and a free being. the thought of ‘Other’ arises ( de Beauvoir. 1949 p. 19 ) . Although in ‘To Room Nineteen’ it would look that both Susan and Matthew are doing a joint. educated determination by Susan discontinuing her occupation to raise the kids and tend to her house. it appears to be more of a determination harmonizing to societal outlooks alternatively of what Susan truly wants. Without a 2nd thought ‘Susan became pregnant [ … ] gave up her occupation. and they bought a house in Richmond’ .

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This sentence structurally is placed in the center of a paragraph. non at the terminal or in a paragraph of it’s ain. This would propose that it is non a large determination that involves careful idea and planning but more something that was decided because it was the obvious determination. Susan made a ‘concession to popular decision’ or a determination that was implied by society to discontinue her occupation and a determination implied by society for Matthew to remain at work and gain an income to back up the household. Harmonizing to de Beauvoir. by Susan accepting her function as ‘Other’ this denies a great trade of her humanity therefore climaxing in her depression. hallucinations and eventual self-destruction.

In ‘Strange instance of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ as there is a distinguishable deficiency of female characters. this would connote that the males have taken the function of the ‘subject’ ( de Beauvoir. 1949 p. 19 ) and free being as the Victorian civilization would order. This would of course so do the really few female characters mentioned in the novelette presume the function of the object ; constrained by the dominant male characters and being a type of low. opposite number to males 5. The first reference of a female in the novelette is the small miss that gets trampled.

Enfield describes this brush as “natural” ( Stevenson. 1886 p. 9 ) . which we as an audience know would clearly non be the instance. The manner in which Enfield blindly denies that this brush was no accident highlights the solidarity of work forces 6and accentuates their power over incapacitated female characters. The small girl doesn’t semen to great harm nevertheless does depend on others to assist her this is because she is the ‘other’ ( de Beauvoir. 1949 ) ; she is basically seen as lame and evil because work forces are unable to visualise themselves as such.

The character of Susan. in ‘To room nineteen’ although apparently independent and equal at the beginning of the text. becomes wholly dependent towards the terminal. She relies on Matthew for comfort when she isn’t experiencing herself and she finally relies on him to give her the money so that she can lease out a room in a hotel ; room 19. ‘She merely had to run across and fling herself into them. onto his hard. warm thorax. and melt into herself. into Susan’ . This shows how Susan relies on Matthew to experience herself. without him she feels like a alien: soulless. nil. ‘She can non believe of herself without man” ( de Beauvoir. 1949 p. 16 ) . At this point nevertheless she feels excessively distant from him that that topographic point in his weaponries isn’t hers any longer and she finally feels like ‘ [ … ] an imposter’ .

In add-on. although being dependent on Matthew. Susan is given the freedom to basically make what she wants. Matthew gives her the money for the room. allows them to hold an au brace miss and is even accepting of Susan’s fabricated lover. This would. at the surface travel against de Beauvoir’s position of the ‘Other’ being a individual who is non free. On closer scrutiny nevertheless this statement seems to be basically flawed. To Susan. even when entirely in the house with Mrs. Parkes. she still feels a certain restraint and ineluctable fond regard to her life and concerns. When she foremost rents room 19. the texts quotes ‘She was entirely. She was entirely.

She was entirely. ’ The repeat of this highlights how unhappy she is around the distractions and duties of existent. household life. It besides points out how adult females. without the input of work forces can be wholly happy without them. by themselves. In this text nevertheless Susan evidently can non happen complete felicity as she is tied to her household and tied to the cultural outlooks of the clip. When she talks to Miss. Townsend she conveys echt green-eyed monster and want for a life in purdah. ‘I wish I was perfectly entirely in the universe. like you’ . This draws on the traditional aim in life to get married and hold kids non really being the ideal for some adult females. In fact. being entirely for Susan is the ideal and what we can observe from this is even today. this can be the ideal for other adult females excessively.

Matthew would be seen to hold freedom and is decidedly non concerned with conforming to societal outlooks when he so openly discusses his personal businesss. This may be because his function as a adult male dictates that he can act how he likes and other adult female. as they are the ‘Other’ ( de Beauvoir. 1949 ) . will non oppugn him. When Susan inquiries as to why Matthew does non experience the same depression as her it states.

‘The good matrimony. the house. the kids. depended merely every bit much on his voluntary bondage as it did on hers. But why did he non experience bound? ’

This could arguably be because there is an mute force per unit area on Susan. as a adult female from society. which is unknown to the twosome. This makes all picks. apparently decided by them both. really decided by society. This unknown force per unit area on Susan is why Matthew doesn’t feel edge.

The thought of freedom is besides prevailing in ‘Strange instance of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ . If the adult females detailed in the novelette are of low societal position. therefore presuming the function of the object and other which is limited and oppressed so arguably Dr. Jekyll should be wholly free and non restrained by these categorizations. The monster that is Mr. Hyde nevertheless easy takes over Dr. Jekyll until he is no more and nil but the monster that remains. ‘This brief superciliousness to my evil eventually destroyed the balance of my soul’ . marks the point where Dr. Jekyll knows that the monster will shortly wholly take over and therefore Dr. Jekyll will no longer hold any control or freedom over his organic structure and over his actions.

The novelette describes the dichotomy of adult male and non the dichotomy of adult females. The Victorian epoch in which it was written would propose that this is because adult females are merely delighting objects to be viewed and do non hold a complex nature about them ; they are submissive animals that will adhere to the function that work forces give them and are basically unworldly. De Beauvoir states a woman’s map is. ‘simply what adult male decrees ; therefore she is called the sex’ ( de Beauvoir. 1949 p. 16 ) by which we can infer that in footings of the novelette. the female characters are merely at that place to function the work forces. non holding a encephalon of their ain and to be complacent in all facets of their lives.

This citation besides has sexual intensions. If adult females are called ‘the sex’ so this could intend that adult females appear to work forces. chiefly as sexual existences. De Beauvoir states that there ‘is an absolute human type. the masculine. Woman has ovaries. a womb ; these distinctive features imprison her in subjectiveness. circumscribe her within the bounds of her ain nature’ . ( de Beauvoir. 1949. p. 15 ) significance that adult females are discriminated against because of their sexual variety meats which. through physical and hormonal distinction paves the manner for female subjugation. The character of Susan in ‘To room nineteen’ towards the terminal of the text doesn’t feel like a adult female any longer. On believing about when all of her kids are ‘off her hands’ during school term it states. ‘She would turn herself back into being a adult female with a life of her own’ . Her holding kids and her utilizing her generative variety meats to bring forth kids makes her experience like that is all she is ; a female parent. a uterus but non a adult female ( de Beauvoir. 1949 p. 13 ) .

If holding kids so for Susan means that you are non a adult female so this does present the reader with the inquiry. ‘what makes a adult female? ’ De Beauvoir provinces. ‘One is non born but instead becomes a woman’ ( de Beauvoir. 1949 ) . For Susan. this could intend that the qualities of a adult female are non unconditioned but instead learned either from society or from oneself. De Beauvoir believes that all existences have the right to specify themselves nevertheless for Susan this seems to already hold been done for her by society even though she appears apparently free. Her determinations are ever in conformity to society’s outlooks. She wants urgently to go the adult female that she was before she quit her occupation and had kids nevertheless this is impossible for her. ensuing in the loss of her voice as a character and the physical loss in voice from her self-destruction.

This thought of voice is of import. as although Susan is the chief character of the text and her feelings and attitudes are foregrounded. this is non the instance in her communicating with others. She feels like she needs to lie to about every other character in the text. most likely because she feels like her ideas are excessively different than the societal norm to be voiced. When Matthew knows that Susan is concealing something. Susan

‘ [ … ] Understood that he hoped she did hold a lover. he was imploring her to state so. because otherwise it would be excessively terrifying’ .

This highlights how stray she is experiencing. Like the devil that finally takes over Dr. Jekyll. a devil takes over Susan and she feels like her one time loving. equal spouse who she so carefully waiting longer than her friends to get married is now person who she fears will roast her and be unaccepting of the devil voice that easy takes over her. Lessing describes Susan’s Satan as being ‘perhaps a middle-aged adult male feigning to be young’ . The word picture of the Satan being a adult male. could be seen as a metaphor for the males and work forces in society. although non voicing their sentiments out loud any more. their positions have become rooted in women’s heads therefore once more foregrounding this mute force per unit area. The comparing to the Satan being a ‘middle-aged adult male feigning to be young’ could propose how even though women’s right to vote is traveling frontward and work forces are going more accepting of woman’s rights. they are ever traveling to hold the somewhat discriminatory position of the older coevals as they have been raised on these positions.

It could be suggested that it is the deficiency of a important female voice in ‘Strange instance of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ that drives work forces to go their dark side. Therefore. Stevenson intentionally decided to highlight the voice of work forces and go forth out any major inside informations about the female characters. The novelette finally illuminates the instabilities of work forces. which. in bend. high spots the stablenesss of adult females. It was non a adult female that led to the eventual ruin of Dr. Jekyll it was the monster that the adult male created or the monster that was ever a portion of the adult male.

On the surface. ‘To Room Nineteen’ tells the narrative of an unrealized adult female in 1960s suburban area and ‘Strange instance of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ deals with issues about the dichotomy of adult male. without reference of adult females nevertheless as antecedently stated there are deeper issues entailed in both. Both texts trade with the jobs environing female individuality and voice and the effects when this voice isn’t expressed. ‘To Room Nineteen’ . being written by a adult female. inquiries the voice of adult females by allowing the reader know her interior ideas but non allowing other characters know them. ‘Strange instance of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ being written by a adult male smartly underlines the inquiries around the place of adult females in society by barely including them in the novelette at all which was really common for literature in the Victorian civilization.

Both use different techniques nevertheless it could be argued that the chief thought that can be taken from a feminist reading of these texts is that in order for equality of genders to come on and for females to be content. they must non let their feelings to be suppressed by persons or society as a whole. The characters in both texts choose to disregard the suppression of adult females and Simone de Beauvoir in ‘The Second Sex’ chooses to convey them to our attending. In order to keep a healthy and balanced being. work forces and adult female need to be equal and non be classed as the ‘other’ or the ‘object’ . Without this. work forces and adult females are destined to neglect.


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