Discuss The Ways In Which Brokeback Mountain By Annie Proulx And The Comfort Of Strangers By Ian Mcewaneither Reinforce, Or Seek To Disrupt, The Identification Of Femininity And Passivity And/Or Masculinity And Activity

3571 words - 15 pages

‘Women readers gain access to the seductive taste of power only at the cost of identifying against their own interests as women. The active, judging consciousness within most texts, as we have seen, is male; the female is almost always the passive object of the narrative gaze, to be judged or praised or punished.’ Pam Morris.
Discuss the ways in which any two texts either reinforce, or seek to disrupt, this identification of femininity and passivity and/or masculinity and activity.

In this essay I will be focusing on two texts, BrokeBack Mountain by Annie Proulx and The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan. I will be looking at how these two texts both reinforce and at the same time ...view middle of the document...

Robert’s gender is exaggerated, for example he is over compensating due to his probable insecurity over his homosexuality after being brought up by a very patriarchal dominating figure such as his father and his loss of manhood due to not being able to produce any children.
Brokeback Mountain both reinforces and disrupts the identification of masculinity within each character. They are both the ideal representation of masculinity, they are tough cowboys, out in the unforgiving wilderness, alone and in control of their surroundings which is a very traditional masculine trait. We soon discover however that they both have another side to them and that this is a love story between two men. Both Jack and Ennis have stereotypical masculine qualities of which you would expect to find in the portrayal of a ‘cowboy`, whether consciously or sub-consciously it is a way of masking their own true natures for themselves and to society at large. Ennis is the more masculine character, the strong silent type who marries and has children in an effort to escape from himself perhaps, as when he leaves Jack for the first time after being upon the mountain for the first time he tells Jack that he will soon be married, it seems as though he is somewhat reluctant in this and that he may be doing it to simply conform and do the right thing. Ennis’s marriage reinforces the stereotypical identification of masculinity and marriage in the eyes of society and himself. Ennis is in control, the more active figure where as Alma is more passive; a traditional scenario in marriage and very stereotypical. However the tables are turned when Alma becomes more active and turns the gaze upon Ennis and Jack when she catches them in a lovers embrace outside the house. Similarly Joe Aguirre, their foreman, turns the gaze upon Ennis and Jack when he catches them both fooling around with each other on the mountain as he spies them through his binoculars, Joe says “You boys found a way to make time pass up there, didn’t you,” Jack is portrayed as having more feminine qualities, being more emotional and needy, he also conforms by marrying and fathering a child, however Jacks marriage disrupts the masculine norm as in that Lureen, Jacks wife, is portrayed as being more masculine, she displays a very masculine trait of being in control within the marriage, she is Jacks boss at work, she controls the money and generally controls many aspects of Jacks life. Both Jack and Ennis finds wives and are married, they father children while turning their backs upon their true nature and try to conform to society’s rules and become the epitome of masculinity. Judith Butler suggests that social determinism plays a large part in the construction of gender:
Is there ‘a’ gender which persons are said to have, or is it an essential attribute that a person Is said to be, as implied in the question ‘What gender are you?’ When feminist theorist claim that gender is the cultural interpretation of...

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