Breaking Patriarchy: the Utopias and Discontents of Gilman, Atwood, Le Guin, and Burgess

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Carpenter, Milo
patriarchy; feminist utopias; dystopia; atwood; burgess; le guin; gilman; Literature in English, British Isles
thesis / dissertation description
The utopian/dystopian genre of literature tends to marginalize women into subservient roles to men. This Independent Study examines four novels that break these patriarchal expectations of utopian/dystopian literature, Charlotte Gilman's Herland, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Ursula Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, and Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange. Through these four novels I determine different areas of society in which women are oppressed and the consequences that has on society. Men use rape, sex, gender binaries, and gender roles to oppress women. Gilman, Atwood, Le Guin, and Burgess all present arguments for how these binaries are detrimental to society through utopian paradises without men and dark satires of societies that specifically oppress women. These four novels argue to discontinue gender oppression and show the improvements society would have if women were given positions of power. Finally, these four authors directly show the flaws in traditional utopian/dystopian literature that are rooted in patriarchal ideas.