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Waterland

Within feminist debate, a terminology for gender issues developed over the 1970s. By 1980, most feminist writings had agreed on using the term gender only for socio-culturally adapted traits. In gender studies, the term gender is used to refer to proposed social and cultural constructions of masculinity and femininity. In this context, gender explicitly excludes reference to biological differences, and specifically focuses on cultural differences (Garrett vii.). Sexologist John Money coined the term gender role in 1955. The term gender role is employed to indicate all the things that a person says or does to disclose himself or herself as having the status of boy or man, girl or woman, respectively. Elements of a gender role include clothing, speech patterns, movement, occupations, and other factors that are not limited to biological sex (253264). The French philosopher Foucault claims that society enforces the distinctions made between that which is assumed to be male and female, and allows for the domination of masculinity over femininity (Foucault 1978). The conception that people are gendered rather than sexed also coincides with Judith Butlers theories of gender performativity. Butler argues that gender is not an expression of what one is, but rather something that one does. Butler also claims that if gender is acted out in a repetitive manner; it is in fact re-creating and effectively embedding itself within the social consciousness (9). Gender attributes are often displayed and taught within institutions such as the family and the media, and the simplistic generalizations about gender attributes, differences, and roles of individuals and/or groups are called gender stereotypes. Gender stereotypes can be either positive or negative, but they rarely communicate accurate information about others. When people automatically apply gender assumptions to others regardless of evidence to the contrary, they perpetuate gender stereotyping. Many people recognize the dangers of gender

stereotyping, yet continue to make these types of generalizations. Gender stereotypes are dangerous because they may lead to inequalities in society. Stereotyping a person could also lead to acts of discrimination. A list of the most common gender stereotypes is included in the appendix (Weiten 304). One useful tool that can be helpful in exploring the issue of gender and gender stereotypes in the novel is Greimas actantial model, which was developed by the French semiotician Algirdas Julius Greimas, who, along with Roland Barthes, is considered the most prominent of the French semioticians. Greimas has added to the theory of signification and laid the foundations for the Paris School of Semiotics. The concept of the actantial model is among the major contributions Greimas made to the study of semiotics. The actantial model is a useful tool that breaks an action down into six components, or actants. This model is going to be applied on The Da Vinci Codes male protagonist in the first chapter, and then to the female protagonist in the second chapter. For clarity in reading this essay, a description of the actantial model is in order. Firstly, the actantial model contains six actants, which are the following; 1- The subject, which is the hero of the story e.g. the prince who is supposed to retrieve something, or save the princess. 2-The object, which is something/someone that the hero wants to be united/reunited with e.g. the prince wants to be reunited with the kidnapped princess. 3- The helper, which is something/someone that aids the hero during his /her mission e.g. a secret map or a magic sword. 4- The opponent, which can be e.g. a person who opposes the hero, and tries to prevent him from uniting/reuniting with the object. The opponent can also be an ideology, a social problem, etc.

5-The sender, which can be e.g. a person or an event that sends the hero for the mission e.g. the king sends the hero to save the princess. 6- The receiver, which is/are the one/ones who benefits/benefit from the subject united/reunited with the object e.g. the king and the entire kingdom are the beneficiaries of saving the princess. Secondly, after breaking the story into six actants, these six actants are further conceptualized into three oppositions, each of which forms an axis of the description: 1- The axis of desire, which discusses the relationship established between the subject and the object. That relation between the subject and the object is called a junction/union. 2- The axis of power, which explores the helper who assists with achieving the desired junction between the subject and object, and the opponent who hinders that junction. 3- The axis of knowledge, which explores the sender who requests the establishment of the junction between the subject and the object, and the receiver, which is the element for which the mission/quest is being undertaken (Bertens 69-75). With the help of Greimas actantial model, this essay will explore the issue of gender and the use of gender stereotypes within the novel, and will probe whether the use of gender stereotypes places emphasis on any certain idea within the text. At a first glance, the novel is about a male and a female who are working together to achieve a certain objective. However, a close reading of the novel suggests that the male and female protagonists are not equal. This inequality appears to be related to the difference of gender. In the first chapter of this essay, Greimas actantial model will be applied, with the male protagonist as the subject. In the second chapter, Greimas actantial model will be applied as well, but this time with the female protagonist as the subject. In the third chapter, the essay will further analyse the issue of gender, and will discuss which gender has a superior

role in the novel, and which idea this superiority (if any) may have emphasized in the text. In short, there are three layers of analysis in the essay, the first layer includes the analysis of the register that form each axis, the second layer explores each axis through a gender lens, and the third layer further analyses the issue of gender by comparing the masculine axes with the feminine axes.

Many literary texts during the nineteenth and early twentieth century buttress the superiority/inferiority paradigm when depicting the relationship between England and the colonies. Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness is a good example of a literary work that engendered negative connotations toward Africa and Africans. The Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe famously criticized Heart of Darkness in his 1975 lecture An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness", saying the novella de-humanized Africans, denied them language and culture and reduced them to a metaphorical extension of the dark and dangerous jungle into which the Europeans venture (The Failure interview). Many postcolonial novels and novellas such as Heart of Darkness are largely criticized with purposely muting the voice of the colonized ones, and present them only through the eyes and the voices of the colonizers. Waterland by Graham Swift seems to adopt similar trait. Although there are no colonies in Waterland, the issue of gender however, seems to substitute for colonization. After all, the female protagonist, Mary, is voiceless, and she is only represented to the readers through the voice of the male protagonist Tom, which seems to reiterate the dilemma of the voiceless colonized people in novels and novellas such as Heart of Darkness. With the help of Greimas's actantial model, this short essay will explore Marys silence in contrast to her husbands storytelling. The story with Tom as the subject When Tom Crick was placed as the subject the following actants were identified. Subject: Tom Object: keeping his job/find a meaning to his life Helper: telling stories. Opponent: Price, the student who questions the need for telling stories. Sender: present-time Tom

Receiver: present time Tom.

Axis of Desire

Tom Crick, the subject, a middle-aged history teacher, who is facing a personal crisis, since he is about to be laid off from his job and his wife has been admitted to a mental hospital. He is a man who is enthusiastically interested in ideas about the nature and purpose of history. Faced with a class of bored and rebellious students, he scraps the traditional history curriculum and tells them stories from his own past instead. These stories form the substance of the novel, which takes place mainly in two time frames: the present, and the year 1943, when Tom Crick is fifteen years old. The traumatic events of his adolescence reach forward in time to influence the present. Tom describes teaching history as a way of escaping reality. The horrors of the past are no longer scary when they are looked on as a history, or as the old adage says water under the bridge. Toms job as a history teacher seems to represent much more than a way to make a living. His job was described in the text as his savior and his way to cope with the horrors that he witnessed as a teen during the Second World War. Losing this job however, will be a traumatic event for Tom. Therefore he has to keep his job, which symbolizes an escape from traumatic past events, and his life seems to revolve around his job. Another object recognized, is Toms desire to find a meaning for his life. Trying to understand why -- trying to understand, that is, what has happened to him and his life -- Crick retells the story of his life. By relating the events of his life in some sort of an order he makes it into a story. He constructs history -- his story. He constructs himself, and in the course of doing so he recognizes that "Perhaps history is just story-telling" (133); "History itself, the Grand Narrative, the filler of vacuums, the dispeller of fears of the dark" (53).

The Axis of Power According to the text, Toms helper is telling stories. The novel states that history is just stories or a form of story telling that helps people to cope with the harsh present, or in other words, a way to escape from the painful reality. Just as telling stories or bedtime stories helps children to relax (Landow 197). The opponent on the other hand is Price, Toms student who encompasses the resistance to history by the youngwho want to live in the here and now (Powell 60). Swift expresses

this resistance by the young in the following statement What is the point of history? (92). Price in particular and the history students in general raises many questions in the text regarding why learning history is relevant, and what is the importance of learning about past events and people who are no longer alive or exist. Tom himself seem to join the opponents and validate their position, he says the past is irrelevant, the present alone is vital (Swift 143). Price also makes a second appealing attack on history and historiography, namely, that it is a means of avoidance: "You know what your trouble is, sir? You're hooked on explanation. Explain, explain. Everything's got to have an explanation. . . . Explaining's a way of avoiding facts while you pretend to get near to them" (145). To be against history is thus for Price anti-explanation, because according to him, both history and explanation evade life in the present -- an attitude based on the assumption that the present is pleasant, nurturing, and not deadly Toms own words in the novel reflect that he chooses to ignore the fact that the past influences the present and that in order to move forward we have to learn from the mistakes of our past. He seems to reduce history, which represents our past and our heritage to a simple story telling. Toms own life stories however, express and emphasize that the past has an enormous influence on the present and the future. Thus learning from the past or from history will help with avoiding repeating mistakes that were already committed in the past by historical figures or by people from the past in general.

The Axis of Knowledge

The sender is present-time Tom, who wants himself to keep his job and find a meaning to his life. Therefore, present-time Tom keeps telling stories, in order to relive and be reunited with the time of young Tom before the murder of Freddie Parr, which symbolises a time that Toms life had a meaning. These stories are about the time when he and young Mary lived outside of time and history, outside that stream of events he is trying to teach to his class. But with the discovery of Freddie's body floating in the canal lock and with the discovery of a beer bottle, Tom and Mary fall into time and history (Landow 199). Previously, "Mary was fifteen, and so was I . . . in prehistorical, pubescent times, when we drifted instinctively" (44). As Tom explains, "it is precisely these surprise attacks of the Here and Now which, far from launching us into the present tense, which they do, it is true, for a brief and giddy interval, announce that time has taken us prisoner" (52). Writing history, like writing autobiography, only comes after a fall (Landow 200). Apparently, present-time Tom has sent himself on a

mission that aims to achieve some psychological comfort and perhaps find a meaning to his life. Telling the story of young Tom and Mary before they fall into history seems to do the trick. The receiver is present time Tom, who will benefit from the psychological comfort that he will experience after retelling and reliving even for a very brief period of time the stories of young Tom before he falls into history.

The story when Mary was placed as the subject

When Mary was placed as the subject, the following six actants were identified. Subject: Mary Object: to be a sexually desired, and to be a wife and a mother as a woman. Helper: sexual curiosity Opponent: the attack of the Here and Now, and the Patriarchal expectation of a woman. Sender: present-time Tom Receivers: present-time Tom and Mary The story with Mary as the subject is problematic, due to the fact that her own voice is silenced in the novel. She resembles to some extent Mrs. Rochester the crazy silent wife from Jane Eyre, who is like Mary only existed through the male protagonist Mr. Rochester, the same way that Mary only exists through the male protagonist Tom. Therefore the story with Mary as the subject will be more like the story with Mary as the subject according to Tom, not according to Mary herself. Mary seems to reflect the old Victorian notion, which states that a woman only exists in the shadow of a man.

The Axis of Desire

Due to the fact that Mary exists only in the novel through the voice of the male protagonist, Young Mary as a subject is basically described as a sexual object. During one of the storytelling about Mary, the young students made comments about the nature of the upcoming new story, and if it is going to be a sexual story as well, and to no ones surprise, it was about sex as well. It seems that Mary as a subject in the eyes of Tom is just a sexual object with nothing more to her. Young Mary is only referenced to in the novel as a sexual object, who wants to discover her sexuality and use it to become an object of desire as a young woman, and according to the text, Marys object as a woman is to become a mother.

According to Powell article, Mays body mirrors the Fens, and both are subject for invasion and reclamation (61). Like many postcolonial works e.g. Heart of Darkness, Marys body is the land that is going to be conquered by the male subject/s. On the other hand, Marys voice was silenced, and like the colonized people, who were only seen through the eyes of the colonizer, Mary was only heard through the male protagonists voice.

The Axis of Power Marys helper according to the text is her sexual curiosity. As a young woman, she is empowered as long as she is willing to explore her sexuality. All the boys in the text were competing to attract her and get her attention when she was willing to explore her sexuality. As a woman, she was reduced to a womb that is only serve to give birth to children, and because she was not able to give birth to children, because of the traumatic back-alley abortion that she did when she was a young woman, she becomes a subject of displacement within society. After all, she could not fulfill the mother role that she is expected to undertake as a woman (Powell 62). The novel suggests that her only option as a woman is to become a mother (Powell 62). Therefore, the opponent here is the attack of the Here and Now, in other words, the time when she entered history, after the back-alley abortion, which made her a barren woman. This abortion has transformed Mary from a young woman who is full of life, and willing to explore her sexuality, to a barren mentally ill woman that ends up losing her mind and stealing a baby. The Patriarchal expectation of a woman could also be the opponent of Mary.

The Axis of Knowledge

Young Mary is described in the text as an independent and strong woman. In reference to the abortion, she says firmly I know what I am going to do (Swift 133). Crick describes Mary as an adolescent as a sexually aggressive young woman. He says: she is the bolder of the two of us (Swift 51). Because Mary exists only through Toms stories, thus, present-time Tom is the sender. According to Toms stories, young Mary represents the time before he and Mary entered history i.e. the murder of Freddie and the back-alley abortion. That time represented normality to Tom, and that is the time that he wants to be reunited with, and believes that Mary wants to be reunited with as well. Throughout the novel, Tom tells numerous stories about young Mary. After all, he believes that if he continues to tell the story when Mary was

strong, independent and sexually active, he will not have to face the reality that his wife is no longer a strong woman. In fact, his wife is currently a weak woman who punishes herself for the abortion (Powell 66). Marys life could have been so much different if the abortion did not go wrong, and she was able to conceive babies and become a mother and a grandmother. After all, according to the text, her only option as a woman is to become a mother (Powell 62). The receivers are present-time Mary and present-time Tom. Marys insanity seems to be the result of Mary punishing herself for the back-alley abortion, and Marys insanity is what fuels Toms desire to tell stories. After all, he believes that if he continues to tell the story when Mary was strong and sexually active, he will not have to face the reality that his wife is no longer a strong woman (Powell 66). Marys axis of knowledge is a little perplexing; therefore, here is another way to interpret it. The sender could also be Tom, Freddie, and Dick. They apparently send Mary on journey of sexual discovery by validating her enormously as long as she is willing to explore her sexuality. They were also the receivers, because they have enjoyed the company of Mary as long as she is willing to experiment with her sexuality.