Feminist analysis of the representation of female and male characters in selected drama plays in Ishashalazi.
Zuma, Ruth Nombuso.
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This dissertation focuses on the textual analysis of the representation of female and male characters in the drama book Ishashalazi, based on the two drama stories: Kwakuhle kwethu! and Umninimuzi. Both of these stories depict male and female characters differently. The findings of this study suggest that the representation of male characters in the selected stories is generally in line with patriarchal attitudes and reflect women's suppression. Male characters are positively represented by most texts and reflect triumph, intelligence, and strength and these forms of representation affirm the traditionally held beliefs about men as rulers and heads of families. On the contrary, this study finds that the representation of women differs greatly from that in which males are represented. Women are given feminine roles represented negatively as failures or as being capricious and disrespectful of social norms. The division of labour into gender-hyper-specific roles widens the gap of differences in the representation of female and male characters. Situated in the imbalance representation is culture. Texts and Ishashalazi in particular, echo unequal representation of male and female characters by promoting the observation of cultural principles in the roles played by characters. African culture is the major phenomenon that promotes patriarchy and ensures that women remain suppressed by the rule of men. Such processes are perpetuated by texts that we read every day. Texts are powerful means of sending messages. It is through texts that social actions and processes are interpreted and acted. Thus textual meaning is both visible and invisible. Through analysis of the two drama plays the hidden meaning of text is disclosed and it is through this analysis that actions that promote the marginalization of women are challenged. Family is one of the institutions where women are oppressed on the pretext of culture (Cameron. 1990). The findings of this study allude to Cameron's observation that the roles assigned to female characters serve as a valuable clue to the constitution of women's silence. Roles represented by female characters in Ishashalazi do not gain the respect of the greater community instead, some (such as women who violate cultural principles) actually damage the reputation of women and tarnish their image. Thus culture oppresses women while giving opportunities to their male counterparts to dominate and exercise authority over women. It is with such social actions and processes that this study concerns itself. Sexist language and stereotypes used by society continue to pose problems that reflect negatively on women. In responding to such challenges this study analyses the representation of female and male characters from a feminist standpoint and calls for the emancipation of women and children.
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