The Well

Elizabeth Jolley's 'The Well': A Reading on Gender 12th Grade

A traditional aspect of rural Australian society was the ordered role of gender. Stereotypically, men were the titleholders, landowners and accumulators of wealth from agriculture, whereas it was the role of women to fulfil expectations of their being wives, mothers and homemakers (Neville, 1997). Within Elizabeth Jolley's 1986 novel The Well, these conventions are simultaneously conformed to and subverted by characters, particularly in the case of main characters Hester and Katherine. The Bordens, husband and wife respectively, embody rural gender stereotypes and are thus free of the consequences awaiting those who defy them. As the novel progresses, Hester and Katherine lose control over their ordered lives and their behaviour becomes increasingly unconventional, ultimately serving as a demonstration of the so-called natural order in restoring them to their natural roles as females. This idea may be interpreted by the reader through literary conventions such as characterisation.

Hester Harper is the protagonist of Jolley's novel The Well. At the beginning of the text Hester is described as being a wealthy landowner, an uncharacteristic quality of a traditional female at the time of the novel's conception. She is described as...

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