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Examine how the women in two stories are treated by the men in their lives.

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Introduction

March 2002 Keri Roberts Examine how the women in two stories are treated by the men in their lives Two short fiction stories which show how women are treated by the men in their lives are The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion and Weekend. The first story is a pre-1914 story called 'The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion' and it is written by Thomas Hardy. The story is set in 1801 and it was published in 1891.The other story is a more modern story as it is set in the late twentieth century and was published in 1981. It is called 'Weekend' and it is written by a feminist writer called Fay Weldon. The main theme of The Melancholy of the German Legion is how a woman is treated with little independence and how the main female character, Phyllis Grove, tries to find her own freedom by forming a strong friendship with a German soldier that escalates into a relationship. Phyllis is a shy, young character who lives in a secluded manor house with her father, Dr Grove, who was a professional and well-respected gentleman. There now appears to be a lack of money in the Grove household. ...read more.

Middle

He treated Phyllis as though she were equal to him and there was no hint of a divide between them due to her being female. He respected her fully and never let her down, unlike Humphrey Gould who broke off the engagement. He may have treated her with more respect and freedom than the other main men in her life as he was German and in his country they may have been more hospitable towards women. Martin is the male in focus in Weekend and his is a very obnoxious character. He is married to Martha and he is a freelance designer and there are clues in the story which suggest that he is in his forties, for example 'he watches the BBC2 news,' which is typical of a middle-aged person. Martin treats Martha as more of a servant than a wife and he puts all of the responsibilities onto her. He seems to think that he is too good to be doing housework and odd-jobs and Martha is left to do long lists of chores, 'prepare tea and sandwiches for the family: then she would strip four beds,' the chores seem endless. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are many non-sentences, such as 'Katy versus Janet,' which do not contain a verb and are more of a thought .There are many compound sentences that use words such as then, but, and, so, which helps Martha to express how many jobs she has to do. This use of language is well suited to the date in which the story was set. The role and rights of women changed quite a lot in the period of time between when the two books were written. In 1801, nobody had the chance to vote and your right to a say depended on your position in society. Men with homes got the vote in 1867, all men got the vote in 1916 and women didn't get the vote until 1926. This meant that for along time women were seen as being lower than men and were provided for by their husbands. Other turning points for women in this time span were that they were able to get jobs and were protected by The Sex Discrimination Act,1975. This explains why Martha had a job and Phyllis didn't, but there is still no explanation to support why Martha was treated so badly in modern day Britain. My conclusion is that Fay Weldon was trying to get across that some traditions never change. ...read more.

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