Gwendolyn Brooks: Poems

To Dream of Something More: Friedan, Brooks, and the Place of Women College

Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique created a social revolution in the 1960s by addressing the role of women in society and its effects on their emotional and mental health. Her words opened the eyes of many American housewives who felt incomplete and lost. Friedan helped these women empathize and associate with what she called “the problem that has no name,” and the only way to resolve this problem was to work or live a “meaningful” life. Often, this problem comes from a yearning for something more than being a mother or a wife. For some women, this means a purposeful career or making a mark in this world: women at the time felt trapped and suffocated by life in the home. This problem in many ways is similar to the conditions diagnosed in Gwendolyn Brooks’s kitchenette building in that the realities of life contradict the dream of finding something more fulfilling. Brooks’s poem relates to this problem as it too deals with the struggle of carrying an empty dream, particularly among those stuck in the domestic or social system. However, the specific audience each text targets within domestic life is different, so that although the concepts being brought up are similar, the realities of wanting something more complicate the...

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