The mass media and advertising industry play a critical role by portraying women as weak objects, sexual objects for men to wallow with. Arguably, authors from both genders started realizing this objectification in the early 1960s. From a feminist point of view, certain authors started using writing as a mode to convey their message on the mistreatment of women. When the concept of gender inequality is mention, it would be difficult to ignore the legendary author, Doris Lessing. The latter was emotionally suffering from the experiences that she saw her fellow female colleagues endure and she wanted to make a great stride in addressing the need to halt mistreatment of women. Although Lessing wrote numerous novels and short stories that agitated for gender equality, the short story “A Woman on a Roof,” assisted in bringing the message effectively to the audience. The paper will address the topic of feminist criticism in the short story “A Woman on a Roof,” via images, perspectives, and characterization.
The short story “A Woman on a Roof,” highlights a scenario wherein there are three men simultaneously working on a roof and assessing a woman who is preserving her roof closely. I believe that the story is such a revolutionary one and a wake-up call for women to resist their image as ‘sex materials’ in the presence of the opposite sex. Doris’s “A Woman on a Roof” implies a critical technique referred as feminist criticism which is precisely echoed via the utilization of several formal devices and techniques comprising perspectives, imagery, and characterization. The perspective used in the short story is typically a third-person the wise opinions of the three men, and this male gasp stresses the author’s utilization of feminism critic. The men’s scrutiny is addressed on the unidentified woman within the first paragraph, and this explanation suggests the probable events occur. To the best of my knowledge, every man highlights a distinct attitude towards the opposite sex. Though they all agree that this woman is attractive. In the short story, Tom, the seventeen-year-old is engrossed by the lady’s beauty, and he visualized about her the initial night that he acts his eyes upon the lady, “Previous night he had be thinking of woman that he didn’t recognize by the time he was sleeping, and that woman got very concerned with him (Lessing 216)”
Characterization technique helps to explain the subject of feminism criticism in the short story. In the short story, the three workmen justify that the men thought that they were more superior to the opposite sex. Men had faith that they possessed the authority to manipulate women and their activities and that the women will be obedient to their commands. The attitudes of the three women are demostrated “they made jokes about getting an egg from some woman in the flats under them, to poach it for their dinner” (Eberhart 805). From their expression, they felt that women are supposed to belong to kitchen eager to prepare food. On the other hand, the man felt that he has an obligation to provide food and shelter. As explicated, the quotes from the three workmen advocate that the men felt that they were superior to women.
Lessing applies imagery technique in “A Woman on a Roof” to stress the utilization of feminism criticism. It is undisputable that the woman’s body is described vividly and repetitively in the short story. The author encompasses descriptions of this woman’s all body parts. These are the some of the elements that entice a man to approach a woman. The addition of the descriptions of every part of the woman’s body stresses feminist opinion. Imagery is highlighted in Tom’s fantasies when he is invited to her household, “Last night she had him into her flat: it was big and had fitted white carpets and a bed with a padded white leather headboard. She wore a black filmy negligee…” (Kirszner & Stephen 454).
As expounded above, the subject of feminism criticism flows throughout the short story. Imagery, characterization, and point of view narrate the devices and techniques applied in the short story. The concept that men are dominant where women pictured to be secondary is sluggishly, however, dynamic. In my opinion, the woman who was on the roof was a figurative deity.
Eberhart, M. G. A Woman on a Roof. 1st ed., Random House, 1968.
Kirszner, Laurie G., and Stephen R. Mandell. Fiction: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Paulinas, 1993.
Lessing, Doris. “A Woman on a Roof.” Selected readings in British literature (2005): 216-222.