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The 1960s drama A Raisin in the Sun strongly views feminism. The play’s depiction and treatment of the ladies exemplify a certain patriarchal mindset in addition to displaying the unequal connection between a man and a woman in society. There is a possibility that, as the characters strive for their goals, the links the play represents might be read as sexist or feminist stereotypes. Feminism is a worldview that places a premium on gender regarding the social world’s structure and organization. (Aggad & Aklil, 2018). The feminist movement contends that this system has consistently denied women the same power, resources, and agency enjoyed by males over the vast majority of human history. This paper will concentrate on Black feminism via the lens of Beneatha’s experiences in the play.
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Black feminists, often called womanists, are women who advocate for the elimination of racism and sexism against people of African descent. It is possible to see the struggles of African American women for equality in both real lives and works of literature. Even though the name “womanism” wasn’t used until the 1980s, the “idea” of black feminism has been present in literature for quite some time. Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun is a play that exemplifies this idea, and it has received a lot of positive reviews (Hansberry, 1974). This drama about their financial situation shows a regular black family, their hopes, and their struggles to achieve those goals.
Beneatha, a young black lady, is one of these people and must find a way to express herself that goes against her family’s ideals and the norms of society. Although it explores grave matters such as “value arrangements of the black family” and “perceptions of African American identity and beauty.” Furthermore, ” generational and socioeconomic concerns,” “the affairs of wives and husbands, black women and man,” and “feminism,” the play is not a comedy (Hansberry 1994, p.6; Aggad, & Aklil, 2018), This represent a disadvantaged social environment for black women. Many oppressed women give up in the face of their hopeless plight and try to fit into the surrounding society, which discriminates against them. This is where womanists come in: they fight racism and work to maintain the women’s indigenous culture.
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Beneatha’s Characterization in the Play
Beneatha is a twenty-year-old college freshman. Her mother is Lena Younger, and her brother is Walter Lee Younger Senior. She had to sleep in the same room with her mother since they were working class and could only afford a one-bedroom apartment. At first glance, she is a slender young woman with thick, unruly hair and an intelligent, hence beautiful, face. Her schooling has caused her English to varying from that of her relatives (Priya, 2016). Beneatha intends to pursue a medical career despite her family’s wishes after finishing college. The ultimate motivation for her pursuit of a medical degree is a desire to be of service to others. This is only one of her many inspiring targets in the play. Furthermore, this might be seen on the one hand, Beneatha has exceptionally lofty aspirations, leaving most people’s methods of thinking ‘beneath her,'” and on the other hand, Beneatha has exceedingly proud objectives, going most people’s forms of thinking ‘beneath her.’ Although she has high standards, they may make other people uncomfortable (Priya, 2016).
In conclusion, Beneatha’s name seems to imply that she is not someone who follows the norms of society. According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, “beneath” means “not acceptable for someone because it is not good enough.” Therefore it’s safe to assume that Beneatha is not your usual lady who is satisfied with what she has and works to acquire what she wants. Beneatha faces several obstacles as she attempts to develop into the kind of woman she dreams of becoming. She also has to deal with the gender norms that come up in conversations with her brother Walter and potential suitor George, as well as racism and generational disputes with her mother, such as when they debate their divergent religious views.
- Aggad, H., & Aklil, R. (2018). Patriarchy and Gender Resistance in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun (1959) and Ama Ata Aidoo’s The Dilemma of a Ghost (1994) (Doctoral dissertation, Mouloud Mammeri University of Tizi-Ouzou).
- Hansberry, L., & Shay, M. (1974). A Raisin in the Sun (p. 146). Canadian National Institute for the Blind. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.731.667&rep=rep1&type=pdf
- Priya, M. (2016). ARTICULATING RESILIENCE AND CRYSTALIZING DREAMS, THE FAMILY OF WALTER LEE YOUNGER IN LORRAINE HANSBERRY’S PLAY A RAISIN IN THE SUN. International Journal of Management and Social Science Research Review, Vol. 1, Issue. 1. Jan-2016 Page 247, 1(1), 246-250.