ENG 2800 Final Paper - Gender Roles: A Cultural Phenomenon...

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Gender Roles: A Cultural PhenomenonGender roles have been in the spotlight lately throughout the late 20thand early 21stcenturies, but gender role issues have been a prominent problem for countless years in manydifferent societies around the world. One work of art that highlights gender roles is the filmOrlando(1992),which wasdirected by Sally Potter and adapted from Virginia Woolf’s novel,Orlando.Woolf’sOrlandowas published in 1928 and tells a tale where the plot spans over 300years to show case gender bending throughout history. While critics claim that Orlando remainsthe same person when he changes into a woman, he in fact develops a whole new personality anda different way of seeing the world when he is female through the use of parallelism seen fromOrlando living life as a male versus living life as a female.InOrlando,there are several time changes ranging from the 1600’s up tothe1900’swithin England. Several scenes delve into gender role responsibilities to portray the differentlevels of dynamics seenthrough a male’s perspective versus a female perspective. Through thefirst half of the film, Orlando is portrayed as male and participates in activities that areconsidered traditionally masculine such as becoming a diplomat in foreign affairs and fighting ina war, which is seen in the 1700 time period entitled“Politics.”Then, through the latter half ofthe film when Orlando is portrayed as female, some of the time periods are appropriately titled“Sex” (1850’s) and “Birth” (1900’s).Although these may seem like stereotypical associationsfor women, in this case, they perfectly describe Orlando as a female. The female sex quiteliterally is the vessel for a woman’s reproductive system and in turn, a child is born. Birth in thiscase is not strictly limited to just the birth of Orlando’s child, but the birth of a new Orlando whohas finally broken free of traditional gender role positions. Orlando changes sex half waythrough the film (in the 1700’s) to represent how women are treated as incomplete characters

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Term
Fall
Professor
ADLER

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