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The twenty-first century ushered a new wave and fight for gender equality. Since women were first introduced in the workplace, they have desired the same pay and opportunities as their male counterparts. Finally, after decades of petitioning and protesting, equality is transpiring; however, inequality is still present in other domains such as politics. Government officials and policymakers are still mostly men; therefore, policies reflect a male point of view. Previous societal biases,which include education and appearance expectations, are still present. Seventeenth and eighteenth-century literature reflect some of those biases. Throughout various literature eras, including Puritanism, Romanticism, and Realism, women have played the role of the “villain”. In The Crucible, The Raven, “Editha”, Ethan Frome, and “The Yellow Wallpaper”, women manipulate their male counterparts to act in ways that reflect various degrees of evil, thus leading to the male’s demise; representing the evident narrow-minded anti-feminist views of those centuries.          Abigail Williams of The Crucible is a shining example of how women are agents of destruction for men. Because Abigail and John Proctor have an affair, Abigail desires John and wishes to eradicate Elizabeth from his life. Fueled by lust, Abigail causes the village to turn against him and Elizabeth. Abigail possesses a strong understanding of her sensuality and innocence and its effect on others. Abigail believes she is worthy of John’s love and Elizabeth is not. She says, “I marvel how such a strong man can be with such a sickly wife”( 24). This is the driving factor for her to continue the hysteria within Salem. She cannot come to terms that the affair is over because she believes John still loves her; however, she brings about John’s demise. Because her plot is too far in motion to be stopped, John has to give himself and his sins up, causing the village to convict him of witchcraft. Moreover, Abigail is seen as an evil, selfish, girl throughout the play rather than a smart and cunning woman who wants control of her own destiny.Additionally, Abigail is also an example of societies narrow -minded view on women. Abigail does not want to be deemed a “whore” while John will continue to remain a good man in the eyes of the villagers if their affair is exposed. This shows a one-sided view of women. Women were at fault if they were in an affair with a married man, not the other way around. John should be more culpable because he is married in the eyes of God; however, this would not be the case in Salem. She would be more culpable. In Act III, Abigail is able to convince the villagers that she and the rest of the girls are seeing a bird (106). This exhibition of power demonstrates how Abigail is able to gain control. The village believes she is vocalizing the words of God rather than those of the devil and Abigail knows how to use that to her advantage. When her plan starts to unravel and her lies are exposed, she is able to twist the truth and divert the attention away from herself. She knows if she condemns innocent people to die; it will divert attention from herself. Her goal is to escape punishment and embarrassment. She is determined not to be defined by her sins and constricted by everyone’s negative opinion of her. Abigail shows real strength in the sight of adversity, which many would consider positive; however, this is overlooked because she sent innocent people to die so she can get what she wants. This demonstrates the inequity in the portrayal of women. Abigail is smart and clever, however, she is seen as a villain. John sins and commits adultery, yet, he is seen as the hero of the play. Abigail clearly reflects the power struggle between men and women. She possesses power over John and the village; however, the power she has is negative. Abigail represents everything bad puritanism women were capable of and did, deception, adultery, and using one’s sensuality to manipulate situations. She represents the devil and his work, rather the pureness and goodness of God, making her a “villain”; however, this is a one-sided view. Abigail acted in necessity and what she believed would aid her self-preservation, yet, she is seen as the villain because she prevailed. Furthermore, Edgar Allan Poe’s notable poem The Raven reflects the same concept that women are agents of destruction and evil. Throughout the dark romantic poem, Lenore’s “presence” looms over the text and the subconscious of the narrator. In line 10, the narrator feels “sorrow for the lost Lenore.” Presumably, she died in a manner which was tragic for the narrator. Although she is never physically appears in the text, she still has a negative effect on the narrator. At first, Lenore is seen in a positive light. She is described as “rare and radiant” (11). In Greek “Lenore” means light. By creating a dark and eerie setting, the description of Lenore’s radiance juxtaposes the melancholy attitude the narrator possesses. However, as the plot progresses, Lenore changes from a positive character to a negative one. In the beginning, the narrator is able to control his emotion about his lost love, but by the end of the poem, he cannot control his emotion. This is reflected in the urgency in the narrator’s tone. He shrieks (97), implores (92), and exclaims consistently. He obsesses over forgetting Lenore so he does not have to mourn death. His subconscious is controlled by her memory and beauty; therefore he desires “Balm in Gilead” (89). The more agitated he becomes, the more he loses control over his emotions. Lenore left a mark on him that cannot be removed; therefore, he is incapable of moving on from the woman he loved. Despite being described as angelic, “saintly,” and pure, she is in death, demonic, evil, and destructive because she can control his actions from beyond the grave.Lenore reflects the narrow-minded view of women. Lenore description is very superficial. The narrator gives details about her appearance, “rare and radiant”, but none about her intellect or why she represents goodness. This demonstrates the focus society puts on women’s appearance over their intellect. Lenore possesses control over the narrator thoughts and actions. In line 83 the memory has become a curse, for the narrator. This realization represents the memory of Lenore being tarnished. The Raven and Lenore exhibit control over the narrator sending him into grief, inanity, and destroying his soul. To the narrator, Lenore is perfect and heavenly and the Raven is demonic and evil, but both are one and the same. Just like in The Crucible, the female character prevails; however, her traits are tainted by the destruction she causes which reflects society’s view of women as destructive beings. Comparatively, Editha in “Editha” is the Realist perspective of women as the agent of destruction for men. Editha indirectly brings about George’s death, because she convinces him to fight, she breaks societal expectation and expresses ideas against her fiance’s. Howell’s point of view is Editha is ignorant about the destruction war causes, there were consequences. She is the agent of destruction indirectly leading George to his death. Unlike Abigail, Editha intentions were innocent. Unaware her persuasion would lead to George’s death, Editha desires him to fight for America as a grand gesture. She manipulates him through her letter. She writes, “I shall always love you, and therefore I shall never marry anyone else. But the man I marry must love his country first of all, and be able to say to me” (5). This demonstrates her ability to manipulate George to fight in the war. George’s weakness is his love for Editha; therefore sh uses that to her advantage. Editha is portrayed as selfish. Her fixation on fighting and convincing pacifist George to act against his belief reflects her selfishness and inability to respect his view. Editha acts as the agent of destruction, caused George’s death, through her ignorance and selfishness.Howell’s portrayal of Editha represents a narrow perspective of women. During the Spanish American War, there were expectations women have to uphold. They are not allowed to express ideas or “ridiculous” opinions on society and war. They must also remain loyal to their husbands. Editha fails to uphold societal expectations. Howells writes, “She was aware that now at the very beginning she must put a guard upon herself against urging him by any word or act, to take the part that her whole soul willed him to take, for the completion of her ideal of him.” (1) Editha, being strong-willed and assertive, express her expectations for George to fight; however, women were not allowed to do that. This reflects the narrow-minded view of women during the seventeenth century. Women were not allowed to become “individuals” considering they could not express themselves and their own opinions. Editha breaks society standards by manipulating George and by doing so face the consequence of living without him. Her failure to respect and remain loyal to George and society’s ideals reflects a negative portrayal of women. By convincing her fiance to fight she leads to the suffering of many. Howell’s portrayal of Editha represents the narrow point of view of women. Women should not break societal expectations, or there will be consequences.Likewise, Mattie, in Ethan Frome, ushers Ethan’s miserable dissolution. Although Mattie appears to portray youthfulness and goodness, by the end of the novel she becomes the agent of Ethan’s sad demise, reflecting a narrow viewpoint of women. Similarly to Abigail, Mattie takes the role of a household helper for the Frome’s and develops a relationship with Ethan, Zeena’s husband. Throughout the novel, the foreshadowing of the destruction Mattie will bring about is present. On page 4, Ethan is described as, “smash up,” foreshadowing the tragic ending of Mattie and Ethan’s affair. After the sledding accident, Ethan has become cold, “bleak” and “unapproachable” (4). He has lost any of the warmth, Mattie has instilled in him because she is crippled and now similar to Zeena. Ethan is essentially dead inside. Had their relationship not transpired Mattie would not be paralyzed, Zeena would not be well, and Ethan would not be tortured by what happened on the sledding hill. Similar to Abigail,  Mattie, in Zeena’s eyes is responsible for the affair.  Had she not “initiated” the relationship, Ethan would not be behaving the way he is. Zeena believes Mattie has to leave Starkfield. This reflects a narrow view of women in Realism. Women are at fault if they have an affair with a married man. Despite Edith Wharton being a female writer, she still reflects the narrow-minded views of the time period. A woman is a cause of destruction in the novel and receives the blame for being in an affair with a married man. The women are cold-hearted and or problematic.Wharton does not attempt to break societal standards by making the female role be a hero, she follows societal standards by making the female role a villain.Another female realism writer, Charlotte Perkins Stetson also reflects the view of women as the agent of destruction in her piece “The Yellow Wallpaper”. Differing from the other poems and stories, the male character at first glance appears to be the antagonist. John is described as “practical in the extreme,” “no patience with faith,” and has an “intense horror of superstition” (647). He is the complete opposite of his wife, the narrator, who is imaginative and sensitive. John puts down her thoughts, her illness, and her. The narrator writes, “I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus but John says the very worst thing I can do is think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad” (648). The narrator has internalized her thoughts and her husband’s directions, recognizing that she wants to do more. This causes her to move from obsession toward madness because she substitutes her lack of enjoyment and stimulation with symbolizing her emotions into the wallpaper. When the narrator is able to identify herself with the women trapped in the wallpaper, she has officially gone crazy and lost herself within the wallpaper. When she tries free herself, the person present has been corrupted by the “rest” cure. This causes John to faint in disbelief and horror. His fainting represents his demise. He lost his wife to the rest cure. A once good narrator has become an agent of John’s destruction.”The Yellow Wallpaper”  reflects the narrow-minded view of the time period. The rest cure was administered to treat hysteria, anxiety, and other nervous illnesses. It also removed the patient from the society to relax them. However, the cure often did more harm than good and this is present in  “The Yellow Wallpaper.” The rest cure reflects a narrow-minded view on women. The rest cure’s goal was to break the patient’s free will. The cure is old fashion and restricting. Women should not submit to male control because it was good for their “health.” Women should be individuals rather than under control of men.Throughout Puritanism, Romanticism, and Realism, women were seen as objects to be control rather than an equal human being. Society believed women should submit themselves to be under male authority. The female role in the house was too cook, clean, and nurture the young. Not much intellectual growth was encouraged. All the women in The Crucible, The Raven, “Editha”, Ethan Frome, and “The Yellow Wallpaper” demonstrate some form of intellect; however, it is diluted by the male characters, narrator’s point of view, or their sensual appearance. The destruction the women cause to the men. Overall the through the portrayal of women as villains, seventeenth and eighteenth-century literature reflects biases against women, aiding the argument that women should not be treated equally.                         

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