“I would venture to guess that Anon. who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman” – Virginia Woolf.
Women have been an important part of literature and have been writing since ages but most of the work written by and about the women of the early centuries was deeply influenced by the patriarchal society. During the middle ages lasting from the 5th century to the 15th-century, females were not allowed to acquire any sort of knowledge other than that of household chores and this was the period when male chauvinism ruled over women’s desires and dreams which is why the women were always portrayed as mothers, mistress, nuns, etc., as we can see in the poem ‘’My Last Duchess’’ by Robert Browning written during the Victorian Era which is known to be the era of suppression for women.
Although there have been works by writers who wrote about women’s rights and females getting out of their houses during war times. During the 1450s and 1550s as the print culture boosted, the books became easily accessible to the people, the women also started reading. The women in a picture by Jean Renoir (1841-1919) showed the women of the nineteenth century reading secretly in the privacy of the room. Novels became highly popular during the 18th and 19th century, also marked the beginning of a new woman who now participated not in just reading but in writing as well. An Era that helped women to liberate herself from the constraints of the patriarchal society and bring grace and power into the play. Some of the famous works include Jane Austen’s Pride and prejudice which explored the theme of women’s desire to have a say in choosing a good and wealthy husband. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre was about a young Jane an independent and assertive woman who was blunt and protested against the hypocrisy of others.
As the times passed and the feminist movement helped women achieve rights and grow independent, the works of the women started depicting the true desires, fantasies and wants and they started being vocal about their sexual preferences, aspirations and penned them down. Molly Keane an Irish author in her novel ‘The Good Behavior (1981)’ satirically contrasted the desires of the undesirable girls with their fates in a dying society. Virginia Woolf’s work ‘A room of one’s own’ in 1929 is accepted as the first beginning text of feminist criticism.
Today’s spectrum is totally different from the past centuries as there is more acceptance in society than it was ever. Women of this century write fearlessly and are thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated by the readers. The worldwide famous works like Harry Potter by JK Rowling, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, Nobody’s Child by Kanchana Banerjee, House of Screams by Andaleeb Wajid, The Power by Naomi Alderson are some of the explicit works by female writers which also explains how diverse the women’s writing has become. A tale that started in secrecy from within the boundaries of domestic duties has now reached beyond the clouds shattering all the norms that once grounded women for being a ‘Woman’.
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