East of Eden

Sam Hamilton’s Wife: East of Eden and the Failure of Feminism 12th Grade

In 1950’s America, women were ensnared in suffocating gender roles. It was a retroactive decade in feminist history compared the power women had in the work force in the 1940s and the progression to come in the 1960s. Bound to the home and pressured by high beauty standards, women found themselves cornered, bored and desperate. Since the public did not value the female voice, women needed was a powerful male member of society to speak for them. John Steinbeck did not step up to this challenge. With his influence and popularity, he could have done a great service to women by advocating for them using his incredibly famous novels as a medium. Instead, in East of Eden, Steinbeck shies away from the idea of revolution and only succeeds in creating underdeveloped, unlikable and weak female characters. Liza Hamilton is the most prominent example of such a character. Unscrutinized, she may seem like a strong, powerful woman. Liza runs a strict household; she expects respect from her husband and children, believes the bible literally, and does not tolerate any drinking. Yet as the novel progresses, each of her expectations, which are really just Steinbeck’s feeble attempt at character traits, are disrespected thereby making her a weak...

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