Professor Tatiana Nunez
10 March 2019
Societal Gender Roles Through Texts
Throughout history many social constructs have been developed based on expectations, values and beliefs of the sexes. These roles were placed among men and women hundreds of years ago to organize positions and duties that had to be done. These traditions have been passed down from generation to generation, making it difficult to break the barriers of social stigmas. These tasks and expectations have been burdened by both men and women because it creates a standard that everyone expects individuals to live up to, even though it is no longer required to keep these duties gender specific. Gender roles can be easily viewed throughout texts from the 1600s and 1700s such as Tartuffe by Moliere, Candide by Voltaire and Story of the Duchess of C*** by Mary S. Trouille, proving that over time these roles of women being viewed as unequal to man have stayed stagnant just to maintain tradition.
According to the Oxford Dictionary and Planned Parenthood, gender roles are the roles or behavior learned by a person as appropriate to their gender, determined by the prevailing cultural norms or, how we’re expected to act, speak, dress, groom, and conduct ourselves based upon our assigned sex. This all means that there is a supposed specific way that each gender has to behave in order to be deemed as accepted in society, but if done differently it may be viewed is incorrect or immoral. For example, back in the day it was expected that women stayed home, did all the chores and watched the kids, meanwhile men were to go out into the work place to acquire money. In today’s society, most barriers have been broken, but the stigma still remains. For instance, it is expected for men to be the executives while women are the secretaries and men are pilots while women are the flight attendants. In terms of children, we see girls play with barbie dolls and kitchen sets, while boys play with action figures and toy weapons. In general, women are told that they should be soft, delicate, dependent and submissive to the man, while men are taught to be aggressive and dominant, and these characteristics can be seen across various texts.
In Tartuffe by Moliere (1664), Orgon, the head of the house, has allowed a fraud, Tartuffe, into his home. Tartuffe was believed to be a pious man by Orgon, but he is actually a good-for-nothing that wants to take advantage of gullible Orgon. Orgon even wanted Mariane, his daughter, to marry Tartuffe. He was blinded by Tartuffe’s pious facade for so long and refused to believe anyone else in his household when they told him that he was a fraud that only wanted his wife and money. It came to him having to hide under a table while Tartuffe spoke to Orgon’s wife, Elmire, for him to believe that Tartuffe was not the man he presented himself to be. In the end, Tartuffe tried to run away with the deed of the family’s property ...