Link of Feminism, Postcolonialism and Existentialism to Literary Texts

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The theories of existentialism, feminism, and postcolonialism are explored in different ways in the works of literature. Various stories in literature bring out these theories, or they connect with the theories in various ways. The three theories tackle important issues such as the existence of an individual as a free agent (existentialism), women’s rights and equality (feminism) and lasting impacts of colonization (postcolonialism) (Waugh & Rice, 2016). All these issues are tackled in different forms of literature showing a linkage of the three theories to literary works. This paper presents the connection of the stories with the theories.

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Existentialism in the Wall by Sartre

This theory emphasizes the existence of the individuals, their freedom, and their choice. It comes with that view of the human beings defining their own lives and what they mean and making decisions that are rational irrespective of existing in a world that is irrational (Kaufmann, 2016). This is shown by Pablo Ibbieta, one of the characters by viewing his life as useless for being condemned to death. It mainly focuses on the existence of the humans and their feeling that they do not have a purpose for existing and that there is no clear explanation why they are living or continue to exist in this world. This is brought out by Pablo not having any interest in life after learning about the death he was going to face. He was disinterested even when the doctor came to talk them. The only way to find the meaning of existence is to the living human beings to embrace the fact that they are existing.

The various individuals that exist on this earth are free and must take personal responsibility for themselves even though it comes with anguish or dread. It holds the fact that for humans to rise above the absurd conditions in this world, which comprise suffering of greater levels, and death that is inevitable is by them embracing their freedom and making their personal choices (Raymond, 1991). It is upon the humans that are in this world to decide whether they will exist in the environments of the world that are not conducive in so many ways especially in denying them the freedom to live. It was Ibbieta himself who could have determined the meaning of his life even if he was going to die. Therefore, to exist is a personal choice made by the particular individuals undergoing any hardships.

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The setting of the story is prison, which brings the suffering and the fact that prisons did not promote existence by Ibbieta and his friends being condemned to death. The prison hardships range from poor conditions that inhibit their existence (Ke, 2006).The conditions may not be by an individual’s making, and they end up in ending someone’s life. These unbearable conditions bring mixed reactions from the people undergoing them. However, the most important thing is for those who are undergoing through them to determine whether they will be destroyed by the conditions that may seem not to be favorable or face them and conquer them. Even after the reprieve of Ibbieta from death, he still lacks hope in life. Therefore, to exist is a personal choice that one makes. Regardless of what happens, one will manage to exist. With a strong will and mentality, one may exist and face death with the determination of conquering it. Without a strong will and mental strength, one succumbs to death like Ibbieta. Existentialism takes two forms. One is the belief that one exists by the powers of the Supreme Being that is God, and the other is the belief that people exist and survive through their own will.

Feminism in the Giant Wistaria by Charlotte P. Stetson

Feminism is used when describing a cultural, political or economic association with an objective of ensuring that women are entitled to rights that are equal and that they are legally protected from any suppression and oppression. The story of the Giant Wistaria by Charlotte P. Stetson is about championing and promoting the rights of women (Biamonte, 1988). It highlights these by highlighting the challenges that women go through or the rights that they are denied by the society especially men. It is concerned with the theories both sociological and political that focus on matters that involve the difference in gender and campaigns that promote equality of gender for women, their rights and interests. The theory of feminism supports the equality of women to men. There are some principles that feminists agree on and which are portrayed in the story. The author of the story is a feminist who is championing and focusing on the rights that women are supposed to be entitled to. This is by showing the world the obstacles that women go through in their lives which are caused by the society especially men.

The objective of the story is to call for fair treatment for women. Her thoughts are linked to the challenges that women face that have solutions (Knight, 2008). For instance, by pointing out the young woman being denied the opportunity to stay with her kid because she bore him out of wedlock shows how women are suppressed by the society. She is denied the chance of loving her child and staying with someone that she loves. This shows that women are denied the opportunity of being with their loved ones. This tells how women are mistreated. They are supposed to be given equal rights like men and allowed to be with people they desire and not be condemned for making mistakes. In the story, the young woman was being punished by her parents because of bearing a kid out of wedlock. The story also brings out how women are suppressed by not being allowed to be married to the people of their choice. The men that they marry depends on their parents. In the story, the parents decide their daughter to be married to his cousin despite him not being a good person.

The story also brings out an idea of feminism that focuses on the expansion of the choices made by humans. The idea of feminism is that both the males and the females are supposed to be given freedom in developing their interests even if they bring about status quo conflict (Biamonte, 1988). Women are supposed to be given freedom of making important choices concerning their lives such as marriage. In the story, women are denied this right by the parents denying their daughter the right to have her kid because according to the society she has gone against the morals of the society. According to the society, women are not allowed to have a children if they have not been married, which explains why her parents punished her. She is expected to be morally upright, and there is no provision of her making any mistake. The parents are also furious because the society will blame them for the poor upbringing of their daughter. That explains why they even wish death for their daughter because according to them, she has disgraced them. They further force her to be married to her cousin even if he is not morally upright. This indicates that men are never blamed even if their behaviors are questionable, unlike the women who are condemned.

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The feminist idea in this story is to bring out how women are discriminated for going against the status quo. Her parents feel that she has negatively interfered with their status quo (Knight, 2008). Therefore, the setting of the story brings out the oppression that is subjected by men to the women. The men have made the women believe that they do not deserve any rights, which is why the mother sided with the father in punishing their daughter. The story contains another part that shows how women unraveled the evil that was happening in a certain house and this shows their significance to the society. The story also brings out an idea of feminism of promoting sexual freedom. By pointing out how the women are not supposed to bear a child out of wedlock, the story is advocates women be allowed to control their sexuality and reproduction.

Postcolonialism in Campfire by Philip Jeyaretnam

The story brings out the theme of postcolonialism. This is in the sense that the narrator was previously in love which means that he was colonized (Koh, 2008). The narrator had fallen in love, but the love had been brought to a sudden death following the death of her girlfriend. He shares the story of her lover a story that he has never shared before. The story brings out the emotional suffering that he was going through as a result of the loss. The narrator’s act of not sharing the pain of his story with his friends for a long time is similar to the pain that was associated with colonialism. He had kept the story to himself and was reluctant to share the story with his friends. Him sharing the sharing the story was a relief because he was he was able to share his pain with the others on how he had been affected by the death of her girlfriend. This can be likened with the relief a country gets after successfully overcoming colonialism. Colonialism brought suffering to the people, but the suffering and oppression ended with independence. The pain and suffering of the narrator can be likened to the abuse that colonized countries went through under the Colonials and which even in the postcolonial era has not been forgotten. The suffering of the character can be likened to the suffering during the colonial times.

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The Wall reflects the theory of existentialism in that it is the humans who can determine their existence even when faced with conditions that undermine their existence. Feminism is a theory connected with the Giant Wistaria as the story promotes the rights of the women by pointing out the oppression and suffering that they go through. This is in a bid to highlight how the society discriminates against women so that the trend can change. The Campfire story is connected with postcolonialism highlighting the suffering through the colonial and postcolonial era.

Did you like this sample?
  1. Biamonte, G. A. (1988). “…there is a story, if we could only find it”: CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN’S” THE GIANT WISTARIA. Legacy, 33-38.
  2. Kaufmann, W. (2016). Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre. Pickle Partners Publishing.
  3. Ke, L. I. (2006). A Graphic Demonstration of Existentialist Philosophy: An Interpretation of The Wall by Sartre [J]. Shenzhen University Journal (Humanities & Social Sciences)6, 016.
  4. Knight, D. D. (2008). New Evidence about the Origins of Gilman’s” The Giant Wistaria”. American Literary Realism40(2), 173-179.
  5. Koh, T. A. (2008). Singapore literature in English: an annotated bibliography. National Library Board Singapore and Centre for Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University.
  6. Raymond, D. B. (1991). Existentialism and the philosophical tradition. Pearson College Division.
  7. Waugh, P., & Rice, P. (Eds.). (2016). Modern literary theory: A reader. Bloomsbury Publishing.
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