The Feminist Approach

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Feminist literary criticism is approach that is most concerned with the role of women within the context of literature. This includes how female characters are created and understood within any given text, in addition to the role of female authors and female readers. This paper shall focus on some of the theoretical concepts which have been contributed to the feminist literary discourse. It shall compare and contrast aspects of theory put forth by three prominent feminist critics, while also considering the arguments raised by three écriture feminine scholars. The feminist critics to be considered in this essay are Simone de Beauvoir, Elaine Showalter, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar. Their arguments about the role of sexual difference,…show more content…
Showalter also refers to this approach as “gynocritics”, appropriated from the French terminology “la gyncritique” (147). What this approach relies upon for its focus of analysis is the role women themselves play in the creation and understanding of literature. The focus then is upon literature created by women themselves, and is not limited in its analysis to female characters because of this. Showalter describes this approach as “more self-contained and experimental, with connections to other modes of new feminist research” (147). One of the majour goals in literary criticism that the gynocritic approach aims for is the creation of a specialized language unique to the criticism of female created literature. This is required, Showalter describes, in order to truly step away from the male-dominated rhetoric often associated and employed in the criticism otherwise. The third feminist critique to discuss is put forth by the theorists Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, from their text, “The Madwoman in the Attic”. Within this text, Gilbert and Gubar discuss the phenomenon in male-authored texts of creating two very distinct binary roles which categorize their female characters. The female characters within these texts are either angels, so to speak, or monsters. As Gilbert and Gubar identify, for “every angelically selfless Snow White must be
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