Can writers write of traditional gender roles, or does recent political correctness render this impossible? This article studies Dan Brown‘s attempt at defying gender roles, but falling into the same old traps.
Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle give a typical literary gender representation in their analysis of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper (1892). They write that ‘the man is active, “practical”, dominant, unemotional… the woman, appears to be passive, non-practical, subordinate, emotional. The opposition between the man and the woman is underscored by the insistent stress on the man’s actions, qualities and characteristics and the corresponding absence of information regarding the woman.’ This is written about a short story written over a century ago, but this representation is present in literary works from every literary period and continues to this day in many forms, such as the male and female representation in romance novels, in action films, in pop music, etc. In Victorian times, it was controversial to represent women as independent and active, such as Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre; in contemporary culture, due to feminist movements, it is now the opposite. In Literature, if it is not controversial to adhere to conventional gender stereotypes, especially regarding women, it is at least frowned upon. Critics expect deeper characterisation as opposed to plot, although mainstream audiences are less concerned with such issues. Continue reading