Focus on Feminism in American Lit

Posted on 11/19/2021
Focus on Feminism in American Literature
Skylar Rozyckie
Staff Writer
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The first marking period of American Literature class focused on articles and pieces of literature dealing with feminism. Lesson on these issues can help inform students on problems that tend to be hidden. In contrast from the previous lessons in freshman and sophomore year English classes, American Literature is being taught from a new perspective.

The first short story the class read was “The Story of an Hour,” by Kate Chopin. It is about a woman who receives news of her husband being in a car crash. Rather than feeling grief, she starts to feel relief and happiness. She learns that she is no longer trapped in a marriage and can live freely and independently. Though, the story ends with her husband showing up and her dying of a heart attack due to shock.

Chopin argues in the short story that unhappy marriages are oppressive. The husbands hold the power, while the women are powerless. This clearly shows the theme of feminism, since it shows the narrator's realization that women hold no sense of freedom and individuality in an upset marriage.

The second short story read in class was “The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Gilman. The story is about a woman who suffers from a mental illness. Her husband, a physician, brings her to a mansion to help her be healed.

Through her stay she is alone and trapped, causing her mental health to unravel. She starts to see a woman trapped in the wallpaper. She rips the wallpaper apart to “free the woman” just in time for her husband to find her. She tells him “I've got out at last... in spite of you."

The unit culminated in a socratic circle. The class was assigned three articles dealing with feminism. The first article was about women in the job force and how much longer it takes for a woman to be promoted verus a man. It also discusses sexism and bias. The second article talked more about the issues of women in the workforce, but this time women of color, and how much harder they have it versus everyone else. Lastly, the third article was about jobs affecting women the most during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The articles enlightened and even shocked the class as they gained a new perspective on women in the workforce and how many hardships they face versus men. The seminar format allowed the class to openly talk about these issues and opinions with other classmates.

The feminism lessons taught in American Literature are very beneficial. They help prepare students for real-world problems and make us aware of feminist issues. These problems tend to be hidden and forgotten in school, but the American Literature course is bringing them to the surface.  
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