Children’s Literature Research
The Changing Representation of Female Characters and Feminist Heroines in Children’s Literature from Baum to Montgomery
Once children can read, they are cast into the literature world â€“ characters, themes, settings, and plots. Children’s literature brings concepts like friendship, nature, education, discovery, religion, and the structure and operation of society so that the child feels connected to the material. Some have argued that children’s literature only comes to existence when it can portray child or child-like characters or appeal to the child’s point of view (Grenby, 2007, p.277). children’s literature has a long, global history that originates in the traditional and folk oral tales. In Britain, children’s books can be traced back to the eighteenth century, with such classics as John Newbery’s A Little Pretty Pocket-Book (1744). In the nineteenth century, children’s books formed a distinguishable genre within the literary world. Expansion of children’s literature to the international level in the nineteenth century saw the female protagonists’ advancement, considering early children’s readings used the male-child protagonists only. Some of the influential literary works in producing strong female protagonists are Lyman Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of OZ (1900), together with Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (1908). This paper will explore the changing representation of female characters in children’s literature by focusing on these two literary works.
Born in 1856, Lyman Frank Baum spends most of his early years indoors after being diagnosed with a week heart. This allowed for extensive reading. His cultural career began with writing articles for local newspapers. Baum’s life experiences permeated the setting and plot structure of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. at some point, Baum attended the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, which included the White City, a model city with lights that created the impression of a jewel. This impression is credited with assisting Baum to create the Emerald City in the novel (Rogers, 2002).
On the other hand, Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in 1874, and at the age of twenty-one months, her mother passed away. Shortly after that, Lucy’s father remarried and moved with her new wife, leaving her daughter to be brought up by her maternal grandparents. In her childhood, Montgomery undertook extensive reading and led a life with strict discipline, for she lived in an isolated area with few friendships (Bienert, 2009). Both Baum and Montgomery had a reading culture that stimulated their imaginations and influenced the passion for writing.
These selected readings, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Anne of Green Gables, creatively allude to the two writers’ personal life experiences. Despite being born in different decades, in different counties, and their gender differences â€“ Baum is male and Montgomery a female, they both produced two strikingly similar children’s novels that deal with female protagonists and their respective journeys (Becker, 2013). Given the difference in publication dates for the two novels, they are well placed in exploring the change in women’s representation in children’s literature.
Feminist Theory and children’s literature
The nineteenth-century saw the initial shifting of the representation of women in children’s literature. An example of this is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Alcott writes a perfect read for young girls, but the novel transcends most gender stereotypes of the nineteenth century. For example, through the characters Jo and Laurie, Alcott portrays the two as nonconforming to their gender-stereotypical roles. Jo vacillates between a more traditional role and feminist character, while Laurie has more stereotypical feminine attributions (Bender, 2017). Though Alcott explores the women’s roles in the nineteenth century, the book Little Women is also a strong affirmation of feminist’s beliefs, and she presents them with respect and empathy. The enduring effect of this book is evident in that it has been adapted into a film (Sony Pictures Entertainment, 2019).
Exploring children’s literature all through the decades has been done through various literary theories; however, feminist literary theory is considered to provide the most insightful approach for this paper. For this paper, analysis is done using the concept of influential feminist theorist Simone de Beauvoir (Simons, 2010). Concerning The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Anne of Green Gables, analysis is done through the characterization of two female protagonists, the secondary female characters, and secondary male characters through the lens of feminist literary theory.
Feminists analysis of selected texts
1. The wonderful Wizard of Oz
1.1. Analysis of Dorothy
The creation of Dorothy – female protagonists marked a change in bursting with make oriented children’s literature. However, it is to be noted from the onset that, even though Dorothy is presented as a self-reliant young woman, there are still some elements within the text that bring out the notion of stereotypes and the presentation of women’s traditional roles. Most of Dorothy’s qualities are designed to contest the traditional subordination feature of females. For example, she slaps the lion on the none after fearing Toto’s safety (Baum, 1900, p.3). Even though she can counter the female’s timidity stereotype and slap the lion, she still, deep, portrays the fearful concern typical of a female.
She also portrays bravery that defeats the stereotype of a woman when she speaks to the lion and says, “don’t you dare bite Toto! You ought to be ashamed of yourselfâ€¦” (Baum, 1900, p. 43). In addition to bravery, she also breaks the typical roles of women in society by engaging in manly and muscular tasks; for example, she helps her friends push the raft to the shore, even though this puts her life in danger (Baum, 1900, p.60). Through Dorothy, Baum has designed a character who is Brave and Kind. The kind virtue represents her feminine behavior; however, the masculine discourse revolves around the concept of female liberation. Bearing in mind that in the nineteenth century, male characters’ dominance in children’s literature was at its epitome, this is considered a bold move that provided the starting and the baby-steps for feminist theorists.
1.2. Analysis of secondary female characters
In addition to Dorothy â€“ a female protagonist, Baum also creates secondary females to show the traditional stereotypical ideology and its change. In the introductory part of the book, Baum explains how to eliminate the stereotypes of “the genie, dwarf, and fairy” to create “modern” children’s literature. According to the theory by Beauvoir, society has placed stereotypes on women such as “The married Woman” and “The Mother,” which indicate a certain pre-designed destiny for a woman (Simons, 2010). In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, women presented as “good” possess traditionally ascribed to women. Aunt Em is described as having been “a young, pretty wife” who has been changed by hard work and the rough terrain (Baum, 1900, p.8). This use of “pretty wife” feminine discourse oppresses this secondary character and indicates how their beauty traditionally describes women. Also, the Queen of the Field-Mice is described as being “good.” The princess made from China described as being “beautifully dressed” and “speaks in a frightened little voice” (Baum, 1900, p.117) serves to cement the position of secondary females in the text. However, Glinda’s innovative creation, a good witch’s, female soldiers, in a reversal of roles. The creation of female soldiers counters the traditional image that a soldier is a male.
1.3. Analysis of secondary male characters
Role reversal and change in feminine and masculine discourse are evident through the secondary male characters, including the Scarecrow, the Lion, the Tin Woodman, and Oz. The scarecrow is a male character described as having now brains (Baum, 1900, p.23), and his stripped of the masculine qualities â€“ has low self-confidence, is dependent on Dorothy, and lacks knowledge. The Tin Woodman also lacks masculine characterizations, for he is helpless and subordinate (Baum, 1900, p.31). The Lion, though he first appears to be a ferocious male beast, close inspections reveal he is a coward who is frightened by Dorothy’s assertive nature (Baum, 1900, p.40). Oz’s character is the reverse of the other male characters as he is the one with power, but in the end, he is exposed as being a liar and a humbug.
2. Anne of Green Gables
2.1. Analysis of Anne
Montgomery portrays Anne Shirley with traditional women’s roles and yearning for change in the social order. The first illustration is in Marilla and Matthew’s discovery that Ann is not a boy (Montgomery, 2004, p.18). The stereotypically female role is illustrated when she responds to Marilla that she can wash dishes, but she is better at looking after children (Montgomery, 2004, p.23). Despite the numerous characterizations that depict Anne as fitting the traditional feminine image attached to women by society, the Author has also portrayed Anne qualities that counter the societal norms, expectations, ad standards.
When Anne is introduced, she is more outspoken and more precocious than expected of passive little girls (Montgomery, 2004, p.8). On her first day at school, Anne doesn’t care much about the male teacher, and she is scolded by Marilla and told she should “criticize the master,” which indicates her willingness to challenge traditional placement (Montgomery, 2004, p.69). Her willingness to challenge the social gender stereotypes is also illustrated in her not taking the role of the “good little girl,” which is an attribute placed on young girls by society (Montgomery, 2004, p.47). Anne is also intelligent, a trait that is normally associated with males. Through Anne’s education, Montgomery challenges females’ patriarchal views as housewives and questions women’s position in society (Montgomery, 2004, p.156). Anne is not only the heroine of the novel but also discovers herself and used her power to change those around her, e.g.., Matthew changes to confident, outspoken, and loving.
2.2. Analysis of Secondary female characters
Secondary female characters, which include Marilla, Diana, and Mrs. Rachel Lynde, are used to reinforce the challenge of stereotypes on women. Marilla is introduced as unmarried, which counters women’s stereotypical role and considers that Beauvoir portrays marriage as an oppressive institution (Simons, 2010). She is a representation of the liberated woman. Moreover, she doesn’t desire to be a mother, and her need to adopt s boy is to provide help for Matthew on the farm (Montgomery, 2004, p.5). The physical figure is also described in a masculine manner, i.e., “tall, thin woman with angles and without curves” (Montgomery, 2004, p.4). Rachel Lynde is characterized as a believer in the modern woman’s place, and she holds the view that the traditional role of women is changing (Montgomery, 2004, p.6). Diana Barry is described as being “a very pretty little girl” who is “good and smart” (Montgomery, 2004, p.38), which is an indication of her inclination to the feminine attributes of a woman by society.
2.3. Analysis of secondary male characters
The characterization of secondary male characters in Anne of Green Gables emphasizes their subservient behavior, which shows the reversal of male and female roles in society (Becker, 2013). First, male characters in the novel are scarce, which illustrates females’ significance and counters male leads’ reliance. Only two male characters are identifiable in the novel; Matthew Cuthbert and Gilbert Blythe. Matthew is portrayed as “the shyest man alive” who “hated to have to go among strangers or to any place where he might have to talk” (Montgomery, 2004, p.3). Gilbert Blythe first appears strong and dominant, but as the story progresses, he is gentle and soft (Montgomery, 2004, 72). These characters serve to cement the emancipated role of the woman in the twentieth century.
Classical children’s books are meant to be educational and entertaining, and through-provoking to make the reader explore imaginative freedom and excitement. Baum and Montgomery have developed vivid imageries of female protagonists; however, consider that these books where written in different centuries. The level at which feminist ideologies have been employed can be seen. Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, penned in the nineteenth century, has employed feminists at a fairly subtle level; moreover, at this time, it was only when the society had begun to challenge societal ascribed gender roles. On the other hand, in Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, feminist concepts are well developed, and the setting of the literary piece indicates this. In Baum’s work, the female protagonist still has some major stereotypical elements of the female. Even though the secondary male characters do not largely measure male stereotypes, they still are present and still shine throughout the novel.
On the other hand, Montgomery significantly develops female protagonists while simultaneously making secondary male characters very dime. Therefore, it is evident that there is a significant increment in female protagonists’ representation from Baum to Montgomery. This increment is expected to grow, as witnessed in The Little Women (2019).
Alcott, L.M. (1869). Little Women. Little, Brown, and Company.
Baum, L. F. (1900). The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. EBook. Project Gutenberg.
Becker, B. (2013). A feminist analysis of Lyman Frank Baum’s the wonderful wizard of Oz, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s the secret garden (Doctoral dissertation, University of Fort Hare).
Bender, C. (2017). Gender Stereotyping in Little Women: “Let Us Be Elegant or Die!”. MJUR, Issue 8, 140-153.
Bienert, M. (2009). Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of LM Montgomery. The Lion and the Unicorn, 33(1), 115-116.
Grenby, M. O. (2007). Chapbooks, children, and children’s literature. Library, 8(3), 277-303.
Montgomery, L. M. (2004). Anne of Green Gables. Broadview Press.
Rogers, K. M. (2002). L. Frank Baum: Creator of Oz: A Biography. Macmillan.
Simons, M. A. (Ed.). (2010). Feminist interpretations of Simone de Beauvoir. Penn State Press.
Sony Pictures Entertainment, (2019, Aug. 13). Little Women â€“ Official Trailer (HD). YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AST2-4db4ic
Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?
Whichever your reason is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.
Students barely have time to read. We got you! Have your literature essay or book review written without having the hassle of reading the book. You can get your literature paper custom-written for you by our literature specialists.
Do you struggle with finance? No need to torture yourself if finance is not your cup of tea. You can order your finance paper from our academic writing service and get 100% original work from competent finance experts.
While psychology may be an interesting subject, you may lack sufficient time to handle your assignments. Don’t despair; by using our academic writing service, you can be assured of perfect grades. Moreover, your grades will be consistent.
Engineering is quite a demanding subject. Students face a lot of pressure and barely have enough time to do what they love to do. Our academic writing service got you covered! Our engineering specialists follow the paper instructions and ensure timely delivery of the paper.
In the nursing course, you may have difficulties with literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, critical essays, and other assignments. Our nursing assignment writers will offer you professional nursing paper help at low prices.
Truth be told, sociology papers can be quite exhausting. Our academic writing service relieves you of fatigue, pressure, and stress. You can relax and have peace of mind as our academic writers handle your sociology assignment.
We take pride in having some of the best business writers in the industry. Our business writers have a lot of experience in the field. They are reliable, and you can be assured of a high-grade paper. They are able to handle business papers of any subject, length, deadline, and difficulty!
We boast of having some of the most experienced statistics experts in the industry. Our statistics experts have diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to handle any kind of assignment. They have access to all kinds of software to get your assignment done.
Writing a law essay may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, especially when you need to know the peculiarities of the legislative framework. Take advantage of our top-notch law specialists and get superb grades and 100% satisfaction.
We have highlighted some of the most popular subjects we handle above. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We deal in all academic disciplines since our writers are as diverse. They have been drawn from across all disciplines, and orders are assigned to those writers believed to be the best in the field. In a nutshell, there is no task we cannot handle; all you need to do is place your order with us. As long as your instructions are clear, just trust we shall deliver irrespective of the discipline.
Our essay writers are graduates with bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college degree. All our academic writers have a minimum of two years of academic writing. We have a stringent recruitment process to ensure that we get only the most competent essay writers in the industry. We also ensure that the writers are handsomely compensated for their value. The majority of our writers are native English speakers. As such, the fluency of language and grammar is impeccable.
There is a very low likelihood that you won’t like the paper.
Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.
We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.
You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.
We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.
You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.
Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.
You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.
The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.
Delivering a high-quality product at a reasonable price is not enough anymore.
That’s why we have developed 5 beneficial guarantees that will make your experience with our service enjoyable, easy, and safe.
You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.Read more
Each paper is composed from scratch, according to your instructions. It is then checked by our plagiarism-detection software. There is no gap where plagiarism could squeeze in.Read more
Thanks to our free revisions, there is no way for you to be unsatisfied. We will work on your paper until you are completely happy with the result.Read more
Your email is safe, as we store it according to international data protection rules. Your bank details are secure, as we use only reliable payment systems.Read more
By sending us your money, you buy the service we provide. Check out our terms and conditions if you prefer business talks to be laid out in official language.Read more