Gender Roles In The Literature Of The 1920's

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Many writers in the 1920’s struggled with the change that they saw in the world, but there were also writers who wished to embrace and evoke the social amendments. A reoccurring theme in the literature of this time is exploring individuality and having pride in who you are. This includes things such as living in the present, moving past racism and redefining gender roles. Examples of this theme can be found in many works written around the 1920’s, including The Great Gatsby, poetry by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Hills Like White Elephants, Harlem Renaissance poetry, and Respectable Woman. For many, this period was a time of pushing boundaries, especially for African-Americans who had migrated north looking to get away from the harsh Jim Crow …show more content…
This was met with so much resistance because, with the changing of gender roles, the functionality of society and the relations between men and women would change as well. Women struggled with balancing the expectations of what was proper and respectable with their own desires, and it showed in the literature that women were writing. "She wanted to reach out her hand in the darkness and touch him with the sensitive tips of her fingers... whisper against his cheek--she did not care what--as she might have done if she had not been a respectable woman." Like the character in Respectable Woman, many young women knew that their desires were unrespectable, especially from older generations’ point of view. The liberation of women in literature is paired with the idea of moving forward from the past and living in the present. Edna St. Vincent Millay’s A Few Figs From Thistles shows her wish for women to choose their lives for themselves and enjoy their youth on their own terms. "Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand: Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!" Edna’s “Second Fig” is about living life to the fullest; while she recognizes that the lifestyle she is leading may not last very long, she sees the importance of self-discovery and freedom in

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