Effect of Gender on Conflicts
Being social creatures, we have an innate need to belong to and be accepted by a group. Through the eyes of others, we get a better understanding of the world around us. Our forefathers’ ability to endure in the ancient world was primarily due to this need. As a result of this collaboration, we have what we have today. In contrast, women are expected to be beautiful to obtain a “good husband” and are more emotional than men, who are viewed as more calculating (Graham, p.18). Males must also be formidable and show their masculinity. Assumptions about gender roles are only a handful of the many forced on us by our society. Is blaming society appropriate? This paper will discuss the effects of gender on conflicts as depicted in different societies from different sources.
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Irving’s ‘Rip Van Winkle’
The society is set up in a way that each gender should undertake different roles, failure to which conflicts arise. There are people in the society who run away from their responsibilities. This is represented by the theme of subordinated manhood in Irving’s Rip Van Winkle. Rip is a good man to the society, who is loved by everyone in his village and easily associates with people, except his wife Dame Van Winkle. He disappears to the mountains because he doesn’t want to work on their farm as his wife suggests, and he there takes a drink from men, which makes him sleep for twenty years (Irving, 14). By the time he wakes up, things are changed so much. This clearly reflects how men flee from domestic and wife responsibilities, which is a significant conflict when women are left to do their husbands’ duties. Dame takes up work, authority, and leadership. Fights and confrontations between Dame and Rip due to negligence lead to the breakage of marriage, sex, and responsibility. Certainly, conflicts must arise when women take up male responsibilities. Rip has to escape from his wife, and he prefers wandering outside his home (Irving, 3).
Escape from gender responsibilities also brings societal conflicts. The then society deemed an independent man as one who would rule over their wife, children, poor relatives, and other dependent people and take up political and economic responsibilities. Rip disappears at a period there is war in the country and comes back when it is done, and the nation is stable. This escape was an exile punishment for disorderly men, and therefore he would be termed ‘disorderly.’ Throughout Rip’s life, he does not meet any moment’s societal view of what a man should be. At one time, he is termed as an ‘obedient and a hen-pecked husband,’ who does not provide for his children’s education and respects his wife (Irving, 10).
The character of women in Irving’s Rip Van Winkle is also said to be a source of conflicts. Women are shown as temperamental and nagging characters. Rip’s escape is attributed to her wife’s nagging and temperamental character. The author refers to her as a ‘termagant and a shrew’ woman. She would nag her husband in the morning, in the noontime, and at night, trying to push him to carry out his responsibilities, to no attempt. In fact, he would go the village to get away from her. The villagers knew him as a kind man, but they would not understand why his wife was complaining, and thus they thought he was the bad one. All along, Rip was quiet. The author also captures that one of the women’s dogs was afraid of her, claiming that she had a vicious tongue. The portrayal of women as temperamental explains the family conflicts in this context. This is not lacking in the society today. There are families where men have fled from their homes due to their wives’ hot-temperedness.
The society also shows men who will do what they want, even if they do not accomplish their manly responsibilities, just because they are ‘the men’ in the family. Rip is such a character since he feels that his wife should not instruct him to do anything, which leads to conflicts between them. Rip comfortably helps his village’s wives and husband, but he won’t work on his own farm. It is the worst-looking farm in his village. He also teaches his neighbors’ children to fly kites and play marbles and narrates stories to them, but he doesn’t do so for his children. When his wife gets angry about it, he goes fishing, hunting with his dog, or gossiping with villagers.
Cooper’s ‘The Last of the Mohicans
Male chauvinism is a dominant theme in some societies, where male characters are dominant, and cannot undertake certain responsibilities because they are deemed feminine. Also, females in such a society are expected to be weak and submissive to men at all cost. In Cooper’s ‘The Last of the Mohicans,’ female characters are not supposed to go to war. Men are expected to sacrifice their everything to protect women and children, even if it calls for sacrificing their lives. However, there are female characters from a different society who believe in active participation in war and ritual ceremonies before war. A man would be termed as a woman if they left battle before killing all their enemies or if they showed mercy, which was such great an insult. Magua deems his ability to kidnap Alice and Cora as an outstanding achievement, and he values Cora as a grand ‘prize or achievement.’
Alice depicts the societal expectation of feminism where she only talks when talked to and faints under pressure. On the contrary, her sister Cora depicts male characters. She even says that she would rather die than get married to Magua. Cora lives a life away from the societal stereotypes of what a woman is. She is said to be courageous and self-reliant even in the face of battle. She is also said to be unsuitable for marriage because no man wants a self-reliant and firm woman. She then marries from another race and is killed for this reason, which is a conflict. This reflects this society as one that society a woman who tries to come out strong and demand an equal position in the society, depicting male chauvinism. The survival of Alice shows that women are supposed to be weakly and submissive, demanding protection from men, unlike Cora, who even saved their lives at one point in the context.
Apess’ ‘An Indian’s Looking-Glass for the White Man’
In Apess’ An Indian’s Looking-Glass for the White Man, women, especially Indian, are discriminated against and mistreated. The author says that from house to house, women were left alone, with their children half-starved and some almost naked as they came to the world (Apess, 155). Women were left unprotected, seduced by white men, raped, and left to be common whores to be destroyed by the fiery and burning curse, heading to the grave. Women in this society are treated so because their husbands are away to the sea, or the agents are unfaithful (Apess, 156), and they have been made to believe that they are minors and should take care of them themselves.
The death of Indian women does not matter at all. In fact, some people will go to their farms and take up for themselves the most valuable treasures since these women are uneducated and can neither take care of themselves nor protect their property. Although in this context Indians are degraded, women, either White or Indian, are lowly esteemed. Women are forced into marriage as people’s wives are chosen for them
Gender stereotypes in societies greatly influence how people in the society behave and interact with each other (Mills 81).. In most communities, the female gender is looked down upon, as these three primary sources portray. Women are made to believe that their role is to sit back at home and carry out household chores as they take care of children, which is a major source of conflicts. Most societies are male dominant, and any woman trying to rise up against those stereotypes is punished, such as Rip’s wife by being left to take care of her family for 20 years, or they are killed, such as Cora in ‘The Last of Mohicans.
Leadership, politics, and economic responsibilities are believed to be manly chores. In the face of war, women should be protected by men, and in the absence of men to take care of them, they are abused sexually and even left to die, as they are deemed minors.
Apess, William. “An Indian’s Looking-Glass for the White Man” p.155-156. (1833)
Cooper, James F. “The Last of the Mohicans” p. 530-36. (1826)
Graham, Chad. “Is It Nurture over Nature?” The Advocate, 5 June 2001, p. 18
Irving, Washington. “Rip Van Winkle” p.1-14 (1819)
Mills, Randy. “Adolescents’ Attitude Toward Female Gender Roles: Implications for Education.” Adolescence, vol. 31, no. 123, fall 1996, pp. 741+.
The purpose of a literary argumentative essay is to construct an argument on a debatable topic and synthesize evidence from literary primary sources and secondary research sources to support your assertions/claims.
Choose a topic
-Construct an argument
-Utilize evidence from the sources to support your argument
-Examples of Debatable Topics (Or propose your own topic):
Effect of gender on conflict
Contribution of alcohol as an antagonist
-Degree that Biblical/spiritual/cultural principles guide the actions of the characters
Ability of literature to change the course of American History
3 Primary Sources:
“Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving (515-527)
The Last of the Mohicans I, CH. III by James Fenimore Cooper (530-36)
“An Indian’s Looking-Glass for the White Man” by William Apess (545-50)
2-3 Secondary Sources
Scholarly sources only (no popular sources such as websites)
Use Galileo (Links to an external site.), Google Scholar (Links to an external site.), or sign up for a free Jstor (Links to an external site.) account
MLA Style, including in-text citations and Works Cited page
5 pages minimum. No summary, only analysis
Strong thesis backed by evidence from the texts and outside sources
Consider, and refute, the opposing argument (counterclaim)
Additional Resources: How to Write a Literary Argumentative Essay link on Canvas. Writing About Literature Videos on Canvas, Grammarly, Upswing, & IWRC.
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