Since prehistoric times, gender stereotyping has been a common concept in society. This stereotyping occurs since there is a perception that roles and positions in society are different for men and women. Moreover, the roles are assigned based on gender (Valenzano et al., 23). This article addresses the concept of gender stereotyping by referencing two arts of work; ‘Daddy,’ a poem by Sylvia Plath, and Edwin Landseer’s painting Windsor Castle in Modern Times.
‘Daddy,’ a poem by Sylvia Plath
In Plath’s poem, she describes her childhood experience in a male-dominated society. The narrator opens the poem by lamenting her present situation, claiming that they are no longer suitable. She likens herself to a foot encased in a dark shoe. She’s been like this for three decades, devoid of color and lacking the bravery to sneeze or breathe (Poetry Foundation). The persona then confronts her father, telling him that she had no choice but to murder him; however, she later claims he perished before she could do so. Her father is described as massive as a stone and as “a bag full of God,” and a terrifying sculpture with one toe resembling a large and grey San Francisco seal. The persona recalls his head being discovered near Nauset, a coastal town in Massachusetts, in the strange Atlantic waters. The narrator tells her father that she hoped for his resurrection (Poetry Foundation). She additionally says that all ladies prefer Fascists because someone with a creature’s mentality ruthlessly treads on them.
The narrator then remembers her father standing in front of a blackboard in a picture. Although he appears to have a strong jawline in the photograph, the persona implies that he also has devilish split feet. She concludes that her father, like the vile creature who broke her passionate heart to shreds, is an embodiment of evil. She contemplated suicide when she was 20 years old to be reconciled with him. She believed that being interred with him might suffice (Poetry Foundation).
Through her work, Path expresses the oppression that women go through in her society. The poem addresses the conflict between the male authority and the female desire for self-control. Throughout the poem, the poet uses her father to represent the patriarchal society in which she lives. She compares her life to a foot that has lived inside “a black shoe for thirty years.” In the patriarchal setting, men are considered leaders and, through their masculinity, had to control whatever was going on in their households. The poet portrays her father as a fascist, bringing in the concept of dictatorship in the male-dominated world. Further, the persona compares his father to Fascists, describing her father’s brutality. Additionally, she implies that women adore their oppressors, identifying a normalization of gender-based violence.
Windsor Castle in Modern Times
On the other hand, in Windsor Castle in Modern Times, Landseer portrays Albert and Queen Victoria meeting in a ballroom at Windsor Fortress (a castle in Windsor that Queen Victoria utilized as her main royal palace), shortly after Albert comes from a hunting spree (see Figure 1). Victoria welcomes Albert with a little arrangement of flowers. At the same time, their eldest daughter, Victoria, is seen toying with a dead bird, triumphant in his endeavours, as seen from the game that is strewn out all over the place (see Figure 1). The scene implies that while men are linked to the outside world of hunting, women are confined in their households, where they are dominant. Prince is portrayed in the traditional position of royal hunter. Albert seems to be a male character in the household upholding the British countryside values. In the meantime, Queen is portrayed as a compassionate and supportive wife and the ultimate example of feminine gender roles, welcoming her partner with a bouquet when he returns from his duties despite her royalty status.
Poetry Foundation. “Daddy by Sylvia Plath.” Poetry Foundation, 1992, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48999/daddy-56d22aafa45b2.
Royal Collection Trust. “Sir Edwin Landseer (1802–73) – Windsor Castle in Modern Times; Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and Victoria, Princess Royal.” Royal Collection Trust, 1841, www.rct.uk/collection/406903/windsor-castle-in-modern-times-queen-victoria-prince-albert-and-victoria-princess.
Valenzano, Joseph, III, et al. Communication Pathways. Fountainhead Press, 2022.