The society placed stereotypes to women and the defined their roles in the society and these women were to conform to the stipulated rules without questioning. There were negative stereotypes that were related to women, and they were thought to be only good in homemaking and performing the roles of mother and a wife. The crucible and the secret of the bees are books that usher in gender role reversal and show that the old roles are utterly inconsequential. The two books break the bonds of women oppression who live in the male-dominated world where the identity of the woman is tied to her husband. Indeed, Kidd and Miller found encouragement from their interests in creating female characters who have dying desires of freeing themselves from the conventional roles that are defined to them by the society. The role of women are ever changing as evidenced by the limited role in The Crucible to their feminist roles in the Secret Life of Bees.
The Role of Women
From the novel of The Crucible, women depict to be strong characters and exercise some form of independence. Evidently, such women in the novel have control over wealth that was either left behind by their parents or husbands. These women also do not follow the traditional roles of being housewives and mothers and characters like Abigail deify the traditional stereotypes. Cinderella’s stepmother is seen to impact fear in men due to her independence. The independence and power that women depict to have in the novel of The Crucible are thought by men to translate to the trail of manipulation and vindictiveness. There is limited roles of women in doing the housework jobs and evidently, Elizabeth is the only character that still upholds the traditional requirement of submissiveness to the husband and traditional women roles. Women also seek revenge in the novel evidenced by Abigail who commits adultery and thus violates the norms of the Puritan society.
The book of The Crucible indicates that women have the ability to manage their lives without the help of a man. Initially, the woman’s life was tied to that of man and marriage was considered to be an important feature in the woman’s lifetime. Abigail portrays a good example as she believes, acts and behaves in a different manner compared to Elizabeth. Abigail stands up for her rights and exposes to being one of the strongest women in the story. The men develop a fear of being replaced by women on many occasions including the workplace. Tituba and Abigail show different characters and do not choose to be submissive to men (Karen 8). Mary Warren is a notable example of women who choose to follow their careers and not men or marriage. She thus shows the limited and the changing roles of women in the society. She has a job where she works in a court and she is an independent woman. Mary Warren revolutionizes the societal thinking concerning women and imply that women are able to do the jobs that were only thought to be designated to men. She portrays a strong personality and communicates the women’s capabilities in handling legal matters. There is also a growing number of single women such as Mary Warren. Warren tells Mr. Proctor that, “Mr. Proctor! I am eighteen and a woman, however single!” (Miller 60). Warren has the enough vigor to stands for herself, and she is not intimidated by the male characters. The women in the novel of the Crucible do not follow the strict societal obligation like taking care of children, homes and be submissive to their husbands.
In the novel, the secret of bees, Kidd portrays the theme of feminism in the entire novel and the changing roles of women. She reveals the aspects and the significance of having feminine power along with matriarchy against the typical role of masculine authority and leadership. The novel makes emphasis on the importance of feminine values and the need to be free from the male dominance. The novel is majorly centered on Lily who has desires to become a mother and in search of the woman’s guidance in her life. The book also depicts the changing aspect of women brings submissive to their husbands. Notably, when men start stirring up trouble with Rosaleen, “Rosaleen lifted her snuff jug, which was filled with black spit, and calmly poured it across the top’s men’s shoes” (Kidd 32). Rosaleen refuses to succumb to the men’s requirement of giving them an apology. Besides, June Boatwright does imply to being a strong character when she refuses to marry Neil. June also indicate depicts changes in the role of women and the mandatory requirement of women to get married. She chooses not to give up her life to a man. Furthermore, the sister to June, August shows a strong feminine character and does distinguish herself with the wise, cultural and interesting personality. August is seen as a bright and an intelligent character that challenges the typical traditional societal a woman who is defined by stereotypes.
The book also portrays female power in the modern society. The father to Lily has no respect for women and teaches Lily into being a victim. However, the teacher to Lily does her best to encourage Lily to become a career woman. Lily starts to recognize her power when she hears the voice of her mother and later on comes to a realization that she must have self-confidence to face the male dominated society. Women such as August believe in the need for a woman to become free. August influences Lily’s thinking and makes her understand that she can live a happy life without the need for a man and marriage. Women in this novel know that they have the choice to decide for themselves their course of life. Lily yearns to have freedom and a life that is not tied to men and being told what to do. This aspect shows the changing role of women in the society and the quest for freedom. Notably, August is an educated, intelligent, sensitive businesswoman and a problem solver which were roles that were never only thought to be labeled for men. Indeed, Lily emulates August and learns the importance of appreciating the power and strength of being a woman. When the novel ends “Lily has learned how powerful women can be, and she joyfully tells Rosaleen how proud she is of her voter registration” (Eleanore 34). Lily comes into her woman strength and power and chooses not to follow the traditional stereotypes that define women.
The two books The Crucible and the Secret Life of Bees show the changing role of women in the society. Women in these novels are seen to go against the traditional stereotypes that define then, and they yearn to become free from the bondage of the society. Undoubtedly, the traditional roles that were placed on women by the society proved to be detrimental and damaging to women. They undermined and diminished women making them look inferior in the eyes of the men and the entire society. Nevertheless Miller and Kidd’s books are a clear indication of the need for equality concerning both genders for everyone to live in peace.
Eleanore Ryan. Feminism in the Secret of Bees. Governors State University, 2009
Karen Vieira Powers. Women in the Crucible of Conquest. UNM Press, 2005
Kidd Monk Sue. The Secret of Bees. Will Smith. 2008
Miller Arthur. The Crucible. Massachusetts Bay. 1953.