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2013 Master's Level Graduate Research Conference

Session I - Session II - Session III

Unsexed Women: Warnings Against Gender Equality in Orwell's 1984

George Orwell’s 1984 is a classic representation of dystopian literature. What is often missed throughout the text is the way in which Orwell characterizes his women under a misogynistic lens. The women in the text are the embodiment of a few tropes showcased as mother, wife, and sexual being. Women, I argue according to Orwell’s text belong in the home, producing and nurturing children. The only woman who holds any real esteem is Winston’s mother and significantly she has died/been killed prior to the text and the changed roles. She is represented as a true woman whereas Julia and the other women are empty and shown as equal to men. What is horrifying for Julia is that she cannot play the mother role. Big Brother has eliminated all notions of mother as caregiver under the ideology that a mother/child bond is stronger than human/government tie. My overall critique is that George Orwell allows his misogynistic beliefs that women belong in the home to dictate his female characters in ability to truly cope with this futuristic society. The text underlines the imagined horrors that women face by not allowing to play this mother role. He pities these women as losing their femininity, never allowing the text to believe women could have desires outside the home. His staunch patriarchy is a challenge to feminism, limiting his text by claiming the worst thing to happen to women was equality.

Presenter: Jennifer O'Dee (Buffalo State College) -- odeeje99@mail.buffalostate.edu
Topic: English - Panel
Location: 216 Hartwell
Time: 9:30 am (Session I)