The he uses the imperative command ‘Put.

The oppression of women isapparent in the Afghanistan society through the extremist rules and regulationsset out in society for woman to remain in order. From the very firstintroduction of Mariam in the novel, she recalls her Nana being named a ‘harami’or bastard by her superior male, Jalil, for simply breaking piece of a tea set.It is immediately made apparent by Hosseini through this how women are treatednot only with an unjust disrespect, but shamed for being inferior to their malecounterparts. This sets a precedent for the theme of shame throughout AThousand Splendid Suns, with the use of ‘harami’ being less of a cast offderogatory comment but a standpoint for how women are viewed in the eye ofAfghani society, low status and undeserving of high levels respect. Public expectations offemale propriety are prevalent in the expectations of women within these novels.

This is clear when it is stated “they want us to operate inburqa,” this is a clear condemnation of Afghanistan’s extreme socialregulations by Hosseini.  Another exampleof the unjust nature of the expectation of women in society is Jalil’s many legitimatewives. These wives reinforce the obscene cultural expectations and how thewomen are expected to be comfortable ‘sharing’ a male partner with other women.Due to their lower position in the patriarchy, women are not given a voice insociety, yet women comply with these expectations and highlight the nature ofan anti-feminist character in the novel.

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  The issue of relationshipabuse is apparent throughout the both novels. Whereas Rasheed explicit physicaldominance compared to subtle mental domination of Angel. Rasheed physicallyabuses Mariam, in the most horrific of ways, such as when he uses domesticviolence towards Mariam, making her chew pebbles for simply boiling rice toolong.

This is significant when he uses the imperative command ‘Put. These. Inyour mouth.’ He also puts a complete abusive hold over Mariam when she wants toescape Rasheed, when he says “You try this again and I will find you…And,when I do, there isn’t a court in this godforsaken country that will hold meaccountable for what I will do.”  It could be argued that Angel alsoabuses Tess without even realising it, through being unrealistic in hisexpectations of Tess and forever trying to maintain an idealized ‘child ofnature’ version of Tess and does not give her respect of discovering who shereally is, despite her attempts to come clean. No overt domination yetcontinuing expectations of Tess that is established by his status and Christianvalues established in his society.   Despitethe overwhelming presentation of male dominance in both novels, both Hardy andHosseini also offer moments of female empowerment at the very end of the texts.Thefirst time any female empowerment comes into a Thousand Splendid Suns is whenthe unlikely friendship of Laila and Mariam develops.

Both women were unable tosettle their differences throughout the novel, yet there is a key turning pointfor the pair, as although Rasheed’s dominance over the woman was intended byhim to pin the ladies against each other, the two women actually came togetherand formed a friendship. Hosseini presents the power of the feminine likenessthat males in this novel did not possess. Through the exchange of peaceofferings, Laila and Mariam are able to come to a new understanding. Mariam’sgift of girl clothes shows Laila that she no longer resents Laila and Aziza’spresence. Laila returns the favour by suggesting they ‘drink chai on the porch’.These exchanges are symbols for the change in their relationship. Theiralienation from Rasheed no longer pits them against each other but unites them.

They seal their friendship when the two ‘sinners have us a cup of chai in theyard’. They put this friendship to the test when they unite to try and escapeRasheed’s dominance. When this fails, Mariam and Laila successfully murderRasheed by hitting him with a shovel.

This finalises the juxtaposition betweenthe beginning of the novel and the female empowerment present at the end. It isproof of the women coming together to stand up to violence and reject thedomination of their abusive male.  Thefinal theme of female empowerment is present in Tess of D’Urbervilles. In thebeginning of the novel, Tess could be considered noble to take on the ‘adultrole’ at the fault of her father or superior male, when he gets too drunk to goto work. The dispossession of country people was a common occurrence and forcedyoung women like Tess into work.

 Additionally, Tess fails to react to hermother’s imposition that she must marry Alec even though he raped her. Here,she has stood up for her own morals and self-beliefs by refusing to conform tothe social idealisations of the Victorian society. Finally, at the very end ofthe novel, like Laila and Mariam, Tess retaliates to her ongoing oppression andabuse by her superior male by stabbing Alec in the chest. This is the ultimatemoment of female empowerment within the novel and is a true representation ofhow relentless abuse can lead to female empowerment.

Acrossthese two endings, the accepted pattern of submissive women giving in todominant men is interrupted, and Tess’s act in the eyes of Hardy is heroic.        


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