Feminist Lens vs Marxist Lens BY JasK05 When reading a book, or any piece of literature of that matter, the readers background is important. It is apart of how the reader perceives the piece. Two different readers with different viewpoints and backgrounds are naturally going to have different opinions and will analyze the same piece of writing very differently. For example, a feminist lens and a marxist lens. A feminist lens would notice all cases where a man and a women are not being compared as equal or a woman is being more dependent .
A marxist lens would analyze everything as a higher power and a lower power, everything from their viewpoint would involve rank of importance and power. In Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, there were many ways a person with a feminist lens and a person with a marxist lens would analyze the same situation completely different. When the main character Janie moved to Eatonville with her new found husband, Joe Starks, he became the mayor, making Janie the first lady. On the night of recognition when everyone celebrated Joe’s accomplishment, Janie was asked to give speech.
Instead of Janie turning down the offer, Joe turned it down before Janie had the chance. A feminist would see this action as Joe speaking for his wife because she’s not strong enough to speak for herself. Around this time in history, women didn’t have much right to speak. They were known as unknowledgable because they were too emotional, so their men spoke for them. A marxist would see this as a subliminal message of Joe saying “There is no reason for her to speak. She is not in control, I am. She makes no decisions. since he wouldn’t let her reject the offer erself, and instead made this and many other decisions for her. Janie was well known for her long hair which was a very important aspect of her character since it was mostly how she was identified and was a representation of her power. Janie’s hair is what set her apart from everyone else and she took pride in it. While Janie was with Joe Starks she was forced to wear her hair in a rag. The only time she was allowed to wear her hair down was when she was at home with Joe. A feminist would see this as Janie following the conservative rule.
Back in these days, omen were not supposed to show too much of themselves to everybody. Although, they would also see this is as Joe controlling Janie and her submitting to him, as a wife was unfortunately expected to do. This is proven when the men of the town are talking about her and see nothing wrong with Janie wearing her hair up. A marxist would analyze this situation as Joe wanting to have power over Janie. By Joe forcing Janie to put her hair up, it made her feel powerless and him feel as if he was dominating her. Throughout Joe and Janie’s relationship, he emotionally and verbally abused her.
He would often talk about how old she began to look. Joe would say things to Janie to lower her self esteem so that she would want to stay with him, because he was so insecure in himself. At some point and time in the book, Janie stood up for herself in Tront 0T tne men 0T tne cl ty, deeply emoarrasslng Joe. Atter tnls, Janle Olan’t llsten to anything Joe said and he had no control over her. A feminist would see this as Janie finally not submitting to what is expected of her in this time era which was continue to be beat down.
Since she was an African American woman, she was not allowed to e independent which is exactly what Janie was, and this was her way of showing that to Joe and the rest of the city. A marxist would see this as Janie “robbing him of his authority”. After being controlled throughout the relationship, Janie flipped the tables and she became the one in charge. Later on in the book, Tea Cake and Janie had a different relationship from her prior relationships. They were considered more as equals to each other. Although at some point in the relationship, Tea Cake beats Janie for personal satisfaction.
When hey live in the Everglades, he realizes that another man is interested in Janie which is when he chooses to beat her. The men in the Everglades almost worship Tea Cake since “his woman” did not fight back, the only thing she did was cry which apparently was becoming rare for African American women. The women were Jealous of Janie and admired Tea Cake because of how he nurtured her and how sweet he was to her when they were seen together after this incident. A feminist would see this as male dominance and the woman submitting to him again which is expected because Janie espects Tea Cake.
A marxist would see this as Tea Cake proving his authority to Janie and everyone else. This is his way of letting everyone know he is the one who runs the relationship and she isn’t going anywhere. To conclude, when analyzing a piece of writing, two different readers would interpret it differently due to beliefs. A reader with a feminist lens would notice more situations involving gender roles and stereotypes while a reader with a marxist lens would inspect situations where there is a power struggle. Throughout Their Eyes
Were Watching God, a feminist would be upset with Janie due to her submitting to her husbands because society feels as if women should be below men. Although, they would also be proud of Janie because she turned the tables, making the role of a man and a woman in the relationship equal eventually. A marxist would be very interested in the way that Janie let mostly everyone in the story overpower her, but would not consider it to be okay. Overall, how readers interpret text changes with each individual. Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Novle. New York: Perennial Library, 1990. Print.