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Jamie Connelly

Mrs. Pierce
AP English IV
May 14, 2016
Gender Roles
The majority of the world is controlled by the different roles society has bestowed within
people as the proper way each gender should behave. Gender roles have changed throughout
time, but society today still holds certain traits, behaviors and tasks for each gender. Society has
exaggerated these roles, forcing each gender to follow in the footsteps that have been put in
place; if the duties or roles are not fulfilled, then that character is usually criticized. Gender roles
are portrayed in multiple different ways throughout George Orwell's 1984, Jane Austens Pride
and Prejudice, and Khaled Hosseinis The Kite Runner.
Gender roles refer to the set of social and behavioral norms that are considered to be
socially appropriate for individuals of a specific sex. All throughout history there are views of
how women and men are treated and expected to act. In the earlier centuries, women were
expected to be extremely conservative and take care of the men amongst their lives and care for
children. Over the years, societys rules and expectations for men and women have differed
very much. Men were expected to go to work and engage in manual labor to provide for
themselves as well as their families. Todays society is not nearly as strict when it comes to
biding by the rules of each gender.

Within traditional gender roles, men are expected to provide for their families by doing
manual labor. Men are often times expected to have strength, honor and take action. Women
often are looked at as caretakers; they nurture in every aspect possible to them. The role of
women in society has been greatly overseen in the last few decades but now are coming to a
more perspective to people. In the early days women were seen as wives who were intended to
cook, clean, and take care of the kids. They were not allowed to vote while men took care of
having jobs and paying any bills that had to be paid. Today in the world, there is a vast
difference in how women and men are allowed to live; theyre not required to follow every bit of
the traits, behaviors and tasks of their gender.
Gender issues are blatant in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. One of the aspects of
gender criticism is the idea that feminine is always seen as negative while masculine is always
shown as positive. Austens book was mostly read by females when it was published, and is
mainly about finding a decent, educated, economically stable husband. Also, a discussion of

"accomplished women" takes place. In Austen's day, an accomplished woman would be skilled
in arts and social skills, but these accomplished women would have no real education or work
experience outside of the home. Here it would be clear to theorists that these ideals about
accomplished women in Pride and Prejudice show that women are trivial. They have no real
purpose other than having children and being socially acceptable.
However, theorists may also note that Lizzie, the protagonist of Pride and Prejudice, breaks
some of the traditional gender roles of women during Austen's time. Lizzie loves to read, she

turns down two proposals of marriage, she loves the outdoors, and she is outspoken and bold.
Theorists may argue that, since Lizzie crosses the traditional gender boundaries, Austen was
creating a more progressive view of women in her novel.
Jane Austens Pride and Prejudice is very much set around a womans way and a mans
way. Women are reduced to commodities for marriage on account of their gender, with few
opportunities to support themselves in society aside from becoming governesses or marrying into
wealth and prestige. Females had little opportunity for employment, to become a governess was
considered degrading, and when there are no brothers or heirs to the estate, as in the case of
Elizabeth Bennetts family, the family then has to entail its fortune, in this case to a distant
cousin, Mr Collins. Women thus suffer on many counts on account of their gender, in the
suffocating society of manners and class pretension that Austen depicts, marriage becomes a
need for survival.
In 19th Century society it was seen as a mans duty to marry a woman within the same
social circle that would uphold the family status. Mr. Darcy says that by proposing to Elizabeth
it is going against the wishes of my family, my friends and my own better judgment,
because she is below him. However both Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley marry someone below them
and both are very happy by this. This is highlighted particularly in Mr. Darcy who after
marrying Elizabeth is seen smiling for the first time in the series. This shows how rebelling
against societys gender roles can lead to happiness.

Pride and Prejudice looks at the very common roles men and women both are expected to
follow. Whereas George Orwells 1984 does not care about gender. The Party attempts to make
gender irrelevant. The whole purpose of gender is to procreate and to have the family unit. The
Party has successfully obliterated the need for both of these by implanting in the girls' heads that
sex is wrong and shameful, the Party ensures that none of them will try to engage in a behavior
of such manner with anyone.
George Orwell tries to create his own stereotype of how he believes women should be
portrayed by the men around. He patronises the women he creates we see an insight into the
weaker sex who are often degraded with humiliating names and vulnerability. Orwell stereotypes
the female characters, which reflects his somewhat limited view of women and their important
role in society. He creates a problem in the way that masculinity and femininity lose all value in
the totalitarian state.
Within 1984, the Party doesn't believe gender matters that everyone regardless of
everything they're treated the same; however, Orwells beliefs are clearly not seen through the
way in which he wrote 1984. Focusing mainly on the masculinity and femininity of all the
characters and people throughout the novel.
Presented with Julia, a female character who accepts her sexuality, uses her
promiscuousness to rebel against Big Brother, and has an affair with Winston. She is sexually
objectified; her actions strengthen the conviction that men are in control. In addition, the motif
of makeup contributes in showing how Julia conforms to western societys obsessive culture of

women becoming feminine through cosmetics, which inevitably triggers identity concerns with
young adult readers as well.
In Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner the Afghan boys were expected to be athletic,
social, confident and their fathers; they were expected to make choices for their families.
Women were to be demure, modest, beautiful and pure. A women's ultimate role is to provide
children for her family. Amir and Hassan both go out of the normal gender parallel they
should be in.
Hassan is Amir's most loyal and devoted servant, who is born with a cleft lip. He and
Amir were nursed by the same woman and, unknown to them both, they are half-brothers.
Hassan is illiterate but smart and stands up for others. He is also the best kite runner in Kabul.
He dies at the hands of the Taliban, defending Baba's house from takeover.
Before Hassan's death, he and Amir had a very special relationship. Amir, the son of a
wealthy and well-known man in the northern area of Kabul, developed a friendship with his
servant named Hassan. As years progressed, Amir had a chance to save Hassan from a horrific
problem that was occurring but the way he acted affected their lives which led them to follow
two separate paths in life.
Amir not taking action showed that he was not as masculine, strong or manly as he
should've been. Amir was very jealous of the relationship between Hassan and Amirs father,
Baba. The jealousy shown by him also showed the femininity within Amirs personality.
Gender roles are all around the world today. Society places ideas concerning proper
behaviors regarding gender roles that when followed people are considered the norm of society

but if you step outside these you're criticized. Todays society is not as judgemental when one is
taken out of their gender norm.
Works Cited
"Are Men and Women's Roles in Society Changing?" HowStuffWorks. N.p., 05 Oct. 2010.
Web. 25 May 2016.
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. New York: Modern Library, 1995. Print.
Dean, Mike, and George Orwell. 1984. Harlow: Pearson Education, 2003. Print.
"Gender and Sociology - Boundless Open Textbook." Boundless. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May
2016.
"Gender Identity | Stereotypical Masculine & Feminine Traits." Gender Identity |
Stereotypical Masculine & Feminine Traits. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2016.
Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. New York: Riverhead, 2003. Print.
"The Proceedings of the Old Bailey." Historical Background. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May
2016.