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Stephanie Bailey Dr.

Karpay ENL 4132 11 December 2012 Transposing Hierarchy and Gender Roles in The Good Soldier and The Passion Ford and Winterson depict gender relations between their characters as strained in The Good Soldier and The Passion. In both novels, the power structures between genders shifts to reflect the historical changes of the modern era. These changes have a profound impact on the relationship dynamic between sexes. In the major relationships of these texts, the conventional hierarchies and gender roles are inverted. The women wield the power of the relationships while the men are submissive. As a result, women are portrayed with masculine characteristics and the men are depicted with more feminine attributes. The female main characters challenge the patriarchal system in society to escape its oppressive authority. In The Good Soldier, the traditional hierarchy of relationships weakens and conventional gender roles become destabilized. Florence and Leonora are the dominate forces in their relationships. They seize power from Dowell and Edward by taking advantage of their weaknesses. Florence uses Dowells naivety and innocence against him. Through the narrative, it becomes increasingly obvious that Dowell is an unperceptive man who is metaphorically blind to the world around him. Florence exploits that flaw in order to gain control over him so that she can pursue her own selfish desires. Florence is reliant on subtle deception to dominate Dowell. Her feigned heart condition is the main method she uses to manipulate him. She keeps Dowell busy playing the role of the male nurse what Dowel refers as an engrossing profession to distract him from discovering her affairs with Jimmy and Edward. Florences pursuit of these

Bailey 2 affairs shakes upwomens place in British and American patriarchy (Hoffmann 42). Leonora takes advantage of Edwards passion and generosity to take the power in their relationship from him. She jumps on his financial troubles, which are caused by his affairs and kindness to tenants, and uses them as justification to control him and his finances. Dowell states, Well Mrs. Ashburnham had simply forced Edward to settle all his property upon her. She could force him to do anythinghe was as frightened of her as of the devil (Ford 44). In contrast to Florences stealthy control over Dowell, Leonoras dominance over Edward is much more overt and extreme. Edwards fear of Leonora reflects the patriarchal worry of the rise in female power and bourgeois values (Hoffmann 32). Eventually, Leonora uses the blackmail letters as an excuse to try to handle his extramarital affairs. She resorts to buying Maisie from her husband because she sees Edwards affair with her as more safe and suitable than the other women hes carried on with. Dowell accuses her of pimping for Edward, which is a role reserved for men instead of women (Ford 53). Leonora is portrayed as an overbearing figure with masculine tendencies. At times, Leonora adopts a paternal position in the novel by attempting to protect Edward and Dowell from the painful truths. When Maisie dies, Leonora wantedto spare poor dear Edwards feelings. He could never bear the sight of a corpse so she does not let Edward see Maisies body or learn the circumstances surrounding her death because she is unwilling to upset his sensitive nature (Ford 56). Likewise, she tries to protect Dowell from the truth of Florences affair to spare his feelings as well. The Good Soldier depicts Leonora and Florence as trying to snatch power from the patriarchal authority through deception and force. Dowell clearly portrays these domineering women in a negative manner: The general trend in his narrative is toward depictions of the women as increasingly transgressive, power-hungry schemers who victimize men (Hoffmann

Bailey 3 41). While The Good Soldier primarily focuses on the negative effects the shift in power has on the men, The Passion focuses on the negative effect the traditional hierarchy has on its characters. Villanelles conventional marriage to the cook is filled with violence and abuse. He physically assaults her and even sells her as a military prostitute. Bonaparte, who is the supreme symbol of patriarchy, divorced the only person who understood himbecause she couldnt give him a child (Winterson 13). Napoleons decision emphasizes how this hierarchical structure views women as mere reproductive possessions. The Passion explores the way women undermine this system to produce constructive change in society through lifting the veil of patriarchal oppression. Wintersons novel shows the freedom and independence women gain by rejecting patriarchy and traditional gender roles. The power structure and gender roles in The Passion are also subverted. Like Leonora, Villanelle assumes a paternal role in her relationship with Henri. Villanelle declares, I will take care of Henri (Winterson 136). She tries to protect him from the law, and even goes as far as attempting to break him out of San Servelo. When Henri imagines a future with Villanelle, he is relegated to the role of the distressed housewife whereas Villanelle is the neglectful and absentee father and husband: Shed vanish for days at a time and Id weep. Shed forget we had any children and leave me to take care of them. Shed gamble our house away at the Casino (Winterson 123). This quotation reveals the inversion of the hierarchal structure in their relationship; Villanelle adopts the masculine role while Henri assumes feminine position. After Villanelle tells Henri she is pregnant, he responds with a patriarchal statement that they should get married: She told me she was going to have a baby, but she didnt want to marry me. How can that be? (Winterson 152). Henri is a traditional man, who thinks that marriage is the logical progression of their situation. French observes, He seems particularly effected by Villanelles

Bailey 4 resistance to the traditional romance plot, according to which he should be cast in the active, questing role of the hero and she in the role of passive victim (239). For Villanelle, conventional marriage is a threat to her identity and her lifestyle. Thus, she rejects his marriage proposal, having already experienced the damaging and constraining effects of a traditional marriage with the cook. Through her rejection, Winterson strikes at the patriarchal notion of woman as a mere commodity, forever deprived of her independence (Asensio 275). Like Edward and Dowell, Henri briefly expresses his fear of Villanelles power over him: I will always be afraid of her body because of the power it has (Winterson 123). Also, he feels helpless because the need to roll over like a pet dog is never far away (Winterson 123). Henris powerlessness and obedience toward Villanelle is reflected through this passage; it is comparable to Dowell calling himself a trained poodle because of Florences manipulation of him (Ford 83). Villanelle displays physical and social characteristics of masculinity. Villanelle has physical markers of her masculinity such as being tall and small-breasted. More notably, she is born with webbed feet, which is only something that the male boatmen are born with in Venetian society. Villanelle describes herself as a pragmatic about love (Winterson 60). Being practical about love is typically a masculine trait. Women are mostly thought to be romantic and idealistic when it comes to love. Throughout the text, Villanelle is depicted as an independent and freespirited woman. She believes that what you are one day will not constrain you on the next. You may explore yourself freely (Winterson 150). She is not afraid to fully explore her sexuality and identity outside the bounds of social and gender norms. The most radical example of gender role reversal in the text is Villanelles cross-dressing. She worebreechesand a pirates shirt that concealed my breasts with a moustache and codpiece (Winterson 55). Villanelles gender

Bailey 5 ambiguity is also shown by her bisexuality. She takes pleasure with both men and women (Winterson 60). Asensio observes that Winterson is subverting those values which traditionally have been regarded as either masculine or feminine (266). While the women take on the masculine roles in The Passion and The Good Soldier, the men are relegated into a submissive role, and as a result, they lose some of their masculinity. In The Good Soldier, Edward is supposed to be the supreme symbol for patriarchy and masculinity, but he has some traits that are not masculine, and some that are overtly feminine. Dowell defines a good soldier as being a sentimentalist, but in reality, good soldiers are generally depicted to be rigidly masculine and unemotional. However, Edward is consistently being referred to as a kindhearted and loving man. Unlike the archetype of the unemotional soldier, he is sympathetic toward the plights of others. He is always trying to help others in need at his own expense. He risks his life to jump off the deck of a troopship to rescueTommies who had fallen overboard (Ford 68). Additionally, he helps his tenants when they have financial difficulties by letting them stay on his land for free. Furthermore, Edward reads romance novels and poetry. Dowell states, I have seen his eyes filled with tears at reading of a hopeless parting. And he loved, with a sentimental yearning, all children, puppies, and the feeble generally (Ford 25). These hobbies and tendencies are certainly not masculine. Additionally, Edward is dependent on the women in his life. He depends on Leonora for financial support, and his lovers for moral support. Being dependent on a spouse or companion is generally thought to be a feminine attribute. Comparably, Dowell is described as a weak and emasculated character: "The selfportrait we have of Dowell thus far is that of an effeminate, inconspicuous passionless clown" (Micklus 2). He refers to himself as a nurse and an old maid; these roles are traditionally designated for women. Edward views him in a similar manner: He regarded me not so much as

Bailey 6 a man. I had to be regarded as a woman or a solicitor (Ford 26). Additionally, Leonora recognizes that Dowell is the weak one in his marriage with Florence. She always treated me [Dowell] and not Florence as if I were the invalid (Ford 29). In The Passion, Henri is a submissive man that is described with feminine attributes. He is depicted as a gentle man with a skinny frame (Winterson 147, 5). Throughout the text, Henri is associated with flowers which are symbolic of femininity. Henri is always dreaming of dandelions. Moreover, upon Villanelles rejection of his proposal, he curled in a corner and began to weep (Winterson 148). This outwardly emotional behavior is not a typical masculine response. This reaction is reflected in the relationship of Henris parents as well: When [Henri] left, Mother didnt cry. It was Claude who cried (Winterson 12). Asensio asserts, It is the men who are weak and passive in this novel (267). He had a thin boys body that covered mine as light as a sheet and, because I had taught him to love me, he loved me well. He had no notion of what men do, he had no notion of what his own body did until I showed him (Winterson 148). This passage reveals a great deal about Henris physical appearance and characteristic traits. Even though, Henri is a man, she describes him with a boyish figure. By illustrating him to be light as a sheet, it shows him as physically weak (Winterson 148). Furthermore, this quotation reflects his inexperience and innocence which is reminiscent of Dowells nativity. Henri is portrayed as being unaware of himself and others. He is entirely nave about his sexuality, identity, and the world around him. Just as he needs Villanelle to show him how to use his own body, he becomes dependent on her to form his identity. Henri writes in his journal: Wordlessly she explains to me to myself (Winterson 159). He believes that she understands him better than he understands himself. Eventually, he starts identifying himself through her. Even though he is

Bailey 7 French, he pictures himself as a Venetian like her: I suffer from catarrh. That proves Im a Venetian now (Winterson 135). She has a strong influence on his identity. As a result, Henri attaches himself to her because without her, he does not know who he is. Stimided by Villanelles usurpation of his role, Henris quest in this case results inidentity confusionleaving him with no core sense of self (French 239). He becomes increasingly dependent on her out of love and fear. He stays out of fear of being parted from a woman whomakes the rest of my life seem like shadows (Winterson 122). His dependence on her reverses the stereotype that women are dependent on men, which highlights his femininity and the hierarchal subversion in the text even more. Like Edward, Henri is a romantic and passionate man. He reflects, I think about her body a lot; not possessing it but watching it twist in sleep (Winterson 123). This quotation portrays his romantic side because it shows that he is not fueled by sexual desire or physical ownership of her, but by true love and passion. In an ultimate show of passion, he kills Villanelles husband for her and confesses to the crime to save her from prosecution. This act of love is further emphasized by the fact that during the eight years as a soldier in one of the bloodiest wars in history, he did not kill a single person. Yet, his passionate love for Villanelle drives him to kill a person. Killing the cook goes against his sensitive nature and is part of the reason he goes crazy. Asensio observes, Henri describes himself as a very sentimental emotional man (267). Similar to Edward, Henri is a bad soldier because [he] cared too much (Winterson 122). Both Edward and Henri are too sentimental to be good soldiers. Instead of taking lives in the war, they save them. Henri risked his own life over and over again to get a man off the field (Winterson 147). Moreover, Henri is more like Bonapartes housewife than an actual soldier. His primary role in the war is to cook for Napoleon, and not to fight. Being a cook

Bailey 8 is traditionally a womans job. Thus, Henris function in the war further cements the notion that he subverts the conventional gender role for men in society. Ford and Winterson explore the effects of patriarchy and untraditional gender roles on these relationships. They show the consequences that hierarchal institutions have on these characters by portraying unhappy conventional relationships. Ford and Winterson offer a critique of the hierarchy in these novels through uncovering patriarchys inherent instability. The authors suggest that trying to categorize identity strictly in masculine and feminine terms is destructive to the characters and their relationships.

Bailey 9 Works Cited Ford, Ford, Maddox. The Good Soldier. New York: W. W. Norton Critical Edition, 1995. Print. French, Jana L. "'I'm Telling You Stories Trust Me': Gender, Desire, And Identity In Jeanette Winterson's Historical Fantasies." Journal Of The Fantastic In The Arts 10.3 [39] (1999): 231-252. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 10 Dec. 2012. Hoffmann, Karen A. "'Am I No Better Than A Eunuch?': Narrating Masculinity And Empire In Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier." Journal Of Modern Literature 27.3 (2004): 3046. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 7 Dec. 2012. del Mar Asensio, Maria. "Subversion Of Sexual Identity In Jeanette Winterson's The Passion." Gender, Ideology: Essays on Theory, Fiction and Film. Ed. Chantal Cornut-Gentille D'Arcy and Jos Angel Garca Landa. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Rodopi, 1996, 265-279. Print. Micklus, Robert. "Dowell's Passion In The Good Soldier." English Literature In Transition (1880-1920) 22.(1979): 281-292. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 7 Dec. 2012. Winterson, Jeanette. The Passion. New York: Grove Press, 1987. Print.