Feminist Ideals in Zora Neale Hustron´s Eyes Were Watching God

Decent Essays

America witnessed the birth of the Women’s Rights Movement over 150 years ago with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. Since this historic event, American women have not ceased fighting for equality and free will in every aspect of their lives. While first-wave feminism involved suffrage and political equality, second-wave feminism combatted social and cultural inequalities. Despite limitations to their personal freedom, women have overcome adversity to advocate for and acquire a more equal position in society. Among these progressive women stands Zora Neale Hurston, whose works are viewed as essential to the continuum of American feminist literature. One of the first great American black female writers, Hurston refused to concede to …show more content…

While Janie yearns for “idyllic union” and emotional fulfillment, Nanny maintains the “prevailing sexual and racial milieu” by arranging her marriage with wealthy landowner Logan Killicks (Meese 264). Hurston purposefully compares Janie’s progressive ideals to those of feminists who were coined as “New Women” who sought marriages based on equality. She directly relates this contrast in beliefs to feminist’s dreams of and efforts towards success and equality through female autonomy rather than material wealth and security under a man’s control. Furthermore, as Janie settles in her second marriage with Jody Starks, she becomes increasingly dissatisfied. Janie’s feelings of confinement and entrapment steadily rise as Jody orders her to remain introverted and shuttle between the general store and home (Moss and Wilson 3). He forces Janie to play the role of a beautiful and submissive wife and “does not allow her to articulate her feelings or ideas [although she] longs to participate in everyday town life” (Moss and Wilson 3). Accordingly, Hurston scorns Jody for believing “She’s uh woman and her place is in de home” (43) and utilizes his chauvinistic outlook to promote women to establish importance outside of homemaking and caregiving. Hurston’s proposal directly reflects and supports Catharine Beecher’s influential efforts to “reconcile women to the limitations of the domestic sphere” (Cott 40) and expand women’s ability to excel in a multitude of different

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