Thursday, July 9, 2009

Reversed Gender Roles

Question im working on:
How have the gender roles in the story, 'The Matyrdom of Helena Rodrigues ', reversed? Provide an analysis of the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and psychological aspects of the four characters- males (Aloysius and George), versus females (Helana and Caroline).

  • physical

Appearing as sweet and cheerful, Helana and Caroline are the typical pleasant females that men usually go for. Aloysius and George appear as conscientious, with Helena playing a huge role in their carefulness and caution.

  • mental

Helena and Caroline adopted cunning ways to deal with their husbands, creating a devious mentality within them. Both of them appeared as deceptive throughout the story. Helena trained her husband to be submissive and compliant towards her, making him recite his daily plans to her. Smart and scheming, Caroline encouraged George as a counter attack. Helena's mind had control over her body, the more lonely and seperated she thought she was, the more ill she became. As for Aloysius, he felt stressed and aggravated, which was the cause of his death. As taught by Helena, George was brought up to think that insulting or offending his mother was a very wrong thing to do. He had very little initiative and response to challenge, most probably because he had always been by Helena's side, never being let to face challenges alone.

  • emotional

Helena felt very seperated when Aloysius left her side, and even more when she found out that she was losing George to Caroline. Aloysius and George are cowardly and submissive to their wives, or in George's case, his mother. They were willingly blackmailed as they were brought up with the 'I cannot hurt my wife(or mother)' mentality, causing them to be trapped in the endless cycle of the women's emotional blackmail. This caused much regret in the life of George, as he felt regretful for his mother's predicament, blaming and punishing himself for it.

  • spiritual

Helena and Caroline seemed pretty strong in dealing with stuff that were thrown in their faces. For one, Helena never complained, using other cleverer tactics to manipulate Aloysius. The males of the story did not appear as strong as the women, as they easily gave in to their requests and emotional blackmails, causing a whole lot more of suffering and heart wrenching experiences.

  • psychological

Both Helena and Caroline wanted Geaorge for their own interests. They were not willing to lose him to anyone else. When Helena came to realise that she was losing George to Caroline, she tightened her grip on him without hesitation. She felt lonely and wanted George for herself. George was tied to Helena's side, causing him to be very aware about her concerns and sufferings. He cared alot for her, and did not want her to be lonely. When Helena fell sick, he looked to himself to support her.

From all these attributes, we can see some prevailing gender roles that still exist in our society today. The stereotypical notion of females is that they are the more submissive ones, the ones known to stay at home and do chores. This puts them under the category of lesser importance than men. As for the men, they are known to be the one who keeps families going, the soul bread winners of almost every household. In this story however, we see gender roles that are very different as compared to our society. For one, Helena and Caroline are the more domineering ones. The ones who make the decisions and make sure their husbands submit to them, willingly or not. Aloysious and George are portrayed as weak through the famales' devious tactics of manipulation.