Tag Archives: Steinbeck’s women

A Story of Repressed Feminism: Exploring Steinbeck’s Women Characters with Special Reference to ‘The Chrysanthemums’ (Published)

Historically speaking, women have been considered symbolic objects of use in a masculine structure and linguistic tokens, rather than wielders of words in their own right. Deleted or distorted by male-manipulated language, the female’s quest for self-respect and fulfillment has been lost from culture and even consciousness for centuries. In the works of a writer like Steinbeck, who had strong confidence in his thorough understanding of “women’s heart of hearts,” one might encode indices of a forgotten language, decipherable hieroglyphs.  The primary theme of the story The Chrysanthemums is one that appears throughout Steinbeck’s canon, the issue of creative frustration. While The Long Valley is undeniably rich in female portraits, and in the portrayal of husband-and-wife relationships, Elisa’s and Mary’s portraits stand out as two sides of one conception: they seem to have been produced one after the other, if not conjointly, and to corroborate each other in the formulation of a correct relation of humans to their environment. Here understood through Elisa’s constant efforts at establishing herself as a successful planter of chrysanthemums, belittled by her materialistic, practical-minded husband, Henry Allen and betrayed rather robbed emotionally by the stranger with assurances of false dreams finally making her realize that her seeds of creative desire shall always be wasted. Some critics have viewed Elisa as a feminist figure, trying to express her identity but failing constantly in a patriarchal post-depression American Labour Class Society

Keywords: Steinbeck’s women, male-manipulated language, repressed desires, silenced and objectified feminity.