An Analysis Of Chinua Achebe's Silencing Of Women In The Novel Things Fall Apart - English - Essay

1033 words - 5 pages

Written Task 2 - Rewrite
Gabriela Kovarsky Rotta
Due Jan. 16th
Which social groups are marginalized, excluded or silenced within the text?
The act of silencing a person or a social group - a number of people who share common
characteristics, like gender - is the act of prohibiting or preventing them to speak. This is directly
related to power, for inhibiting someone to speak up and be heard goes hand in hand with
powerlessness. Also, silencing has to be enforced by certain people, thus evidencing power
hierarchization - the silence of one group is the speaking space of another. Power relations are
dynamic and change depending on which particular time and place one is observing. Misogyny,
for example, is the belief that men are superior to women. Due to stereotyping and gender role
idealization, women are deemed less capable than men. In line with this belief, then, is the idea
that women - who in theory are inferior to men - should not be granted the power of speech. In
“Things Fall Apart”, Chinua Achebe uses literary devices such as characterization and setting to
show the silencing of women by men. The author does so in order to convey the idea that in
Umuofia there is direct correlation between gender and power.
Initially, one example that showcases the silencing of women by men in Umuofia are Achebe’s
deliberate characterization choices for Nwoye’s mother. This character is not, at any point in the
novel, given a name. When Obierika is visiting Okonkwo in his motherland, for instance, she is
referred to as “Okonkwo’s wife” (page 141). In other occasions she is referred to as “Nwoye’s
mother”, but never with a particular name. This is directly related to silencing, for the act of
depriving her character from a basic aspect of one’s personality makes her powerless. It
conforms to the pattern of deeming women less than men. By referring to her as a man’s
possession she is belittled and put in the position of something to be owned. It can be argued
that this specific characterization choice suggests that her entire existence is dependent on the
role she plays when connected to the lives of these men. It is as if, when being the first woman
to marry Okonkwo, the rest of her life would be solely centered around him and no longer on
herself. The man’s other wives were given names, but not his first; no matter what else she
accomplished, she would always be “Okonkwo’s first wife” or the bearer of his first child, Nwoye,
because their importance was greater than hers. Thus, it draws attention from her character - as
if she was not worthy of the reader’s full attention because of where she stands in society and
focuses on men. In this manner, Achebe is depicting a misogynistic society, as well as an act of
silencing those below one due to power hierarchy. Furthermore, Achebe uses Okonkwo’s
domineering temper to evidence how he takes advantage of his prestigious position of power
and downgrades his first wife. After she voices her concerns regard...

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