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A discussion on how Men are Portrayed in the two texts Woman at Point Zero by El Saadawi and Lysistrata by Aristophanes.

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Introduction

Session: November 2004 ENGLISH A1 WORLD LITERATURE ASSIGNMENT 1 School: The Kilmore International School Topic: A discussion on how Men are Portrayed in the two texts Woman at Point Zero by El Saadawi and Lysistrata by Aristophanes Candidate Name: Mckiterick, Brenton Candidate Number: bzt874 Word Count: 1461 El Sadaawi and Aristophanes convey their perspectives of men from two different times and societies, however both share their view on men that whilst they enforce their dominance on society, they become weak and powerless to their sexual appetites. Men are portrayed by both authors as being at the mercy of their sexual desires, driven by their lust to dominate and abuse society for control. Aristophanes employs the use of raw sexual connotation and metaphor within the dialogue to powerfully provide the male characters with the freedom to convey their explicitly depicted emotion and sexual frustration. El Saadawi takes a different approach to Aristophanes, utilizing a first person perspective to add inclusive and intimate details to the story, such that the reader is given a greater insight into the feelings and emotions of a woman dominated by a male society. The narrative perspectives of both texts powerfully convey the authors' intentions. In Woman at Point Zero, El Saadawi writes from the account of Firdaus in a first-person perspective; a woman facing execution who has endured the hardships and brutality of an Egyptian society established upon male domination and oppression. In Lysistrata, Aristophanes yields to a wider range of perspectives to portray his story. However, the central focus is on the coalition formed by Lysistrata and the other women, who swear an oath to refrain from sex until the male militarism ceases. There is an omnipresent narration that depicts the viewpoints of all the major characters and groups; Lysistrata and her force, the Men, the Male Chorus and the Female Chorus. This is effective in that the issues submerge and are dealt with in conflicting dialogue, "(Stratyllis)If you do such a thing, we tell you plain, your mum won't recognize your face again! ...read more.

Middle

a society bounded by domination and hypocrisy, "I have triumphed over both life and death because I no longer desire to live, nor do I any longer fear to die. I want nothing. I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. Therefore I am free" 4. In denying the epitome of the male essence Firdaus so boldly loathed, she symbolizes her escape from the male grasp by tearing up the Prince's money on page 98. In this, she sets herself free from the imprisonment set upon her by men; finally severing the chains that bound her to a world where sex was her only safe passage beyond leading a life confined to a pointless existence, as she states earlier in the novel "..in that case I want to be one of the masters and not one of the slaves"5. The authors explore the behaviour and reactions of the men when refused sexual services similarly; they experience sexual frustration when denied these services and as such often resort to abuse and force. Aristophanes exercises a different approach to express the attitude of men by powerfully describing their sexual status with metaphors and connotations, "And what might you be? A man, or a walking phallus?" (Cinesias)6. Particular detail is given to the erectile status of the men, "(Cinesias).. you've got a spear hidden in your clothes.."7 As "the crisis is getting more inflamed than ever! (Leader)8" the description of this status is revealed more thoroughly throughout the play as they experience uncontrollable erections; the First Athenian states on Page 186 as "..dying of erectile hyperfunction!". The frustration within the male sector of society in Woman At Point Zero is dealt with differently; Firdaus stands a lone fight against men, as revolutionary as the sex strike in Lysistrata. She discovered in her experiences that "the law punishes women, but turns a blind eye to what men do."9 Initially in Lysistrata, the men resort to violence to overthrow the women and take control once again, however their efforts are ...read more.

Conclusion

Her duty was perfect obedience. (Uncle's Wife)13". El Saadawi and Aristophanes portray men in their texts as oppressors of society, dominating and forcing control, however when sex becomes an issue they are powerless and the roles are reversed where women obtain the power and can bring the men to satisfy any fulfilment. Using different narrative approaches, they convey their messages from two different times and societies. Aristophanes writes from a male perspective, ironically conveying a similar view of men in society as Firdaus, a woman. He demonstrates the imperfections in societies undermined by male authority, where a coalition of women meet in solemn conclave; Lysistrata expounds her scheme, the rigorous application to husbands and lovers of a self-denying ordinance - "(Lysistrata) We must renounce - sex."14. The story is successful in that initially the men seek to intimidate the women into abandoning their deals and stand down, however when this comes to be a false realization they eventually falter as a group and accept the women's wishes. El Saadawi reveals the life of a woman victimized by male oppression in a society also governed by males, as she describes on Page 88 "Men imposed deception on women and punish them for being deceived, force them down to the lowest level and punish them for falling so low, bind them in marriage or chastise them with menial services for life, or insults, or blows". She illustrates the flaws in such a society; the male dictatorship and double standards that caused unprecedented corruption. Both texts convey the power of sex as an ultimate tool; it brought an ancient Greek society into order, and brought a modern day Egyptian society into chaos and destruction. Through brilliant depiction both authors portray men as both masters and slaves to sex. They found that their sexual hunger was often one they could not satisfy without force, where quite often it was they who became the slaves to this desire. ...read more.

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