Female Repression and Its Consequences: The Unknown Truth Essay

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Walter Olejarski

3 February 2014
Female Repression and Its Consequences:
The Unknown Truth Human oppression in any form will contribute a certain level of anxiety, depression, hatred, and can lead to severe mental illness. Up until early in the twentieth century, the repression of women was a largely unrecognized problem in society. Men told women what to do and how to act, and too many were beaten or otherwise physically abused. However, most did not speak out for fear of rejection from society or of receiving more bodily harm. Freethinkers and non-conformists are usually the first people to understand potential problems and present them to the world. Zora Neal Hurston and William Faulkner were both profoundly deep thinkers about their respective societies. In their stories, “Sweat,” and “A Rose for Emily,” these writers illustrate how the effects of the repression of women can be harmful to the oppressed and the oppressor. In “Sweat,” an innocent young woman naively marries a man with an abusive personality. He quickly begins physically and mentally abusing her, for “[t]wo months after the wedding, he [gave] her the first brutal beating” (Hurston 177). After fifteen years of a marriage tainted with Sykes’ verbal and physical hatred, not to mention his infidelity, she decides to make a stand. While she is preparing her work for the week, Sykes comes home and proceeds to torment her as usual; however, as he attempts to hit her “[she seizes] the iron skillet from the stove and [strikes] a defensive pose” (177). Unlike many oppressed women, Delia has spunk and spirit, which rises up at this point. Sykes knows Delia is afraid of snakes, and terrifies her by hanging his horsewhip on her shoulder or back. Finally, he brings a live rattlesnake home, which will ironically put an end to his cruelty. The climax of the story reveals the oppressors much deserved fate. After Delia flees the house into the garden, eventually the rattler bites him. When Delia hears him calling for her and moaning in agony, she feels a brief pity, but quickly realizes that Sykes will never appreciate her soul, so she abandons him in the house to die. She has reached her breaking point; she will take no more. Understandably, a physically abused person will have a breaking point, but what happens when the abuse is simply an over-protective father of a prominent family? We will address this question as we delve into “A Rose for Emily.” A deep-rooted mental suppression can be just as dangerous, and William Faulkner portrays the risk in his famous short story, “A Rose for Emily”. Miss Emily’s father, a repressive man, does not allow men to court her as she enters into womanhood. Yet perversely, she appears to love him (perhaps like the Stockholm syndrome). When her father dies, three whole days pass before the town’s people convince her to bury him; she will not let go. Although the townspeople harass Miss Emily, they also humor her oddities because they pity her: “[they remember] all the young men her father had driven away, and [they