Monday, December 05, 2005

But What About the Women?

Kyler Robinson

The Republic of Plato, 1984 and Brave New World are three books containing a common outlook on social systems and social organization. While all literary works have some sort of social system as a background in which they are set, the social systems and organization in these three works are more significant in that they present very radical ideas – from being born out of the womb to having a strict caste standard in which they are born. In dealing with these complex proposals however, women are used in different manners which ultimately further empower a male dominated world – even in The Republic of Plato where he states men do all things inherently better than women.

The Republic of Plato is perhaps the backbone for which the other two novels are based around. Besides the fact that this book has become the most influential work that has informed western political thought, there are direct connections such as the metal caste system, which is reflected in 1984 through the disparity of the party members and the proles while in Brave New World the reflection is even more clear to the strict gold, silver, bronze reflected through the conditioning depending on a persons Greek alphabet levels.

Although all of the social systems in each literary works allow some movement in for women, they the novels demonstrate that there still is not enough flexibility. In The Republic of Plato Socrates begins an improvement that allows women to fight along side men and have the same training and education as men and while this is an improvement it is done under pretenses separate from the feminist movement – it is for overall social convenience rather than liberation of women. 1984 and Brave New World reflect a social system that allows women the same basic rights that were proposed by The Republic of Plato – they are given the same education, have the ability to work and in 1984 are able to fight in a sense during the hate time every day.

While these are all good things for the equality of women, there remains an anti women sentiment throughout all of the books. Perhaps this is because the origin – The Republic of Plato – did not do it for the right reasons that we still see the oppression of women appearing in the later two novels. Although in 1984 we see that Julia has a job and is a very strong individual, she cannot succeed because of the male dominant society. This happens because men such as O’Brian control the world and leave no room for women. In Brave New World the characterization of women is even greater. Both of the main female characters are either old and ugly – in the case of Linda, or they are stupid and drugged up – in the case of Lenina. All three of these books make present places where women could flourish but they fail in that the steps are not full steps but are instead often inconsequential for the reality of the women who live in the societies.

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