There are some writings which you can only write when it strikes your mind, all of a sudden. These writings, often can’t be defined as literature from the view point of Eagleton, but surely does strike a chord with the contemporary readers. The following writing is one of them, based on some borrowed feelings.
The ‘claustrophobia’ we learn from the dictionary tells us it’s a fear of small, confined spaces. But is it essential that you feel ‘confined’ only in petite spaces? No, it’s not. Often it’s the small spaces that give you the freedom of living in your own world and big spaces trap you, emotionally. Quite often, physically too.
There are shreds of evidence in undistorted history and art on how castles were never actually the dream of those who lived there, women to be more specific. Even though they were bestowed to be princesses and queens, they were merely the wives of princes and kings, just filling a few gaps now and then. True that they had all the luxuries of jewels and silks, but can any opulence of the high walls substitute the magnificence of the sky?
Jane Eyre, for one, could have had all that the world craves. That’s in relevance to her times and her life before Rochester. But the self-esteem and dignity (often termed as ego when we talk of women) which she chose, isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Spinning off, the mad woman in the attic is another way of looking at the story. Jean Rhys’ take on the tale isn’t just a criticism of colour conscious literature of the time. It’s a story of a significant number of women over the world. Some end up mad, some with an emotional claustrophobia.
Paul Morel (Lawrence’s character) and Stephan Dedalus (Joyce’s) reach an epiphany and take along their own way, leaving behind everything. How many of the women in literature ended up doing so? Not many. It’s only literature, you say? Literature might be fictional but it reflects the factual. One of the very first definitions of literature I read was that it’s a mirror of life.
In spite of scriptures and intellect suggesting the contrary, women always had a controlled role. And what’s the reason? ‘It’s always had been like this’. Rational enough! Why don’t we stitch clothes out of leaves and feed on hunting then? And there are thousands of other things which we have changed over time, in spite of them being the other way from times immemorial. The comparisons aren’t digestible to many people, for obvious reasons.
Well, I don’t know how to come to a conclusion for there isn’t any, not yet. And quite remorsefully, it doesn’t seem to be near too. Maybe it will take as much time as the evolution, or maybe more. But more importantly, will it ever be? I mean, a perfect culmination of this, when people will astonishingly listen to stories of the past when women had so many walls restricting them?