Argumentative free essay: The Role of Women in “Women in Black” and Portrayal of Postmodernist Gender Ideas
The Role of Women in “Women in Black” and Portrayal of Postmodernist Gender Ideas
The novel, “Women in Black,” by Susan Hill, is about a recollection of Arthur Kipps, the protagonist who decides to write down horrific experiences from his past. This is a book with a haunting experience because it touches on the death of a son and her mother after Kipps’ family struggles to hide secrets about the real mother of a child. There is Jennet Humfrye, a woman who gives birth to a child, Nathaniel. Because she is unmarried, she is forced to give the child to Kipps and her wife, Drablow. Jennet goes away and returns after one year since she cannot part with her son. Mrs. Drablow agrees to let her back at Eel Marsh House on a condition that she should never disclose to Nathaniel that she is the biological mother. Due to the pain and anguish for being denied the freedom to be united with her son, Jennet decides to flee with a horse and a carriage carrying him, which sinks into marshes; killing everyone on board. When Kipps returns to London, marries Stella and have a child, the ghost of Jennet returns and kills the child by frightening a horse in a carriage ride. The various incidences in this story show that women play various roles and portray postmodernist feminist idealisms. The essay will show that goal of the ghost of the woman in black was to exert vengeance upon a man who caused his son’s death.
One of the roles of women evidenced throughout the novel is that women are a source of revenge. Jennet is a woman that throughout the story likes to revenge. What that means is that even though it was not Kipps’ and Mrs. Drablow’s fault that her son died inside the carriage when it sank into the marshes, she still exerts revenge upon Kipps’ family. She is angry at the injustices that have been done on her insofar she cannot contain the hatred within her. She kills children to avenge her son’s death, and at the final heartbreaking end, she takes Kipp’s happiness. However, this is not the end of her revenge; she haunts Eel Marsh House and the town of Causeway by making the community not to tell what really happened.
Another role revealed in the novel is that women represent memory and the past of men that they want to forget. These women’s roles are shown through Kipps’ rational and modernistic way of thinking. Kipps when threatened with ghostly sounds; his mind jumps to the reality that it is a person drowning in the marshes rather than believing in ghosts. He believes in tangible and real things. For example, from the novel, he says that he deliberately avoided all the contemplations that the woman in black was supernatural-ness and relishes most part of his modern life-his relationship with Esmé. Thus, Kipps is a modern, proud man who wants nothing more than to forget embarrassing moments of his past life, which includes confrontations with the woman in black, Jennet (Hill 30). Kipps demonstrates by his actions that Jennet is a woman lost in memories by saying that though she has been in his heart, she is an inextricable part of the past (Hill 62).
Women also play the role of being the victims of the discrimination by a society that is controlled by male dominance. In other words, it means that someone did something bad to a woman which is not just. Jennet is denied to a right to be with her son because she is unmarried and instead, he is taken from her by force and given to married couples for adoption. This act is discriminative against women. She writes in a letter that “she wonders why she should not have what is hers. She will not allow her son to go to strangers and will kill everyone before she lets him go” (Hill 36). This excerpt from the letter reveals painful feelings that Jennet has for her son being taken away.
Women also play the role of retribution to those who have done wrong in the society. Retribution means that women in the novel inflict punishment upon those that have done something wrong. Stella represents a woman with everything that is safe; Kipps is convinced that everything will resume as normal when he returns to her from all the unpleasantness he experienced at Eel Marsh House. Unfortunately, Jennet returns in form of a ‘woman in black’ and kills Kipps’ son, and Stella is sacrificed for a woman she not even meet before. The revenge is a form of retribution against Kipps for taking away a son from his mother. The weight this punishment is felt in Kipps’ words when he says, “They asked for my story. I have told it. Enough” (Hill 30).
Moreover, the behaviors of some characters from the novel demonstrate postmodernist gender ideas. Feminism movements aimed at helping women to achieve their rights; postmodernism addresses women’s rights as they should be. They include women stepping out of bounds from their stances with the general societal rules. For instance, Jennet’s vengeance by killing even innocent people that did not contribute to the death of her son is an act that portrays postmodernism gender ideas.
The story from the novel centers on a ghost of a woman in black that returns to haunt a family for causing the death of her son. The presence of the ghost of the angry woman in black is a result of a discriminative social system that views unmarried as being unfit to have children. However, the ghost haunts Kipps’ family and kills his son and wife as retribution for contributing to her son’s death.
Hill, Susan. (2015). Woman in Black. New York: Random House.
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