• Focuses on human identity as critical framework
• “Reading as a woman”
• Focuses on gender (social roles performed by sexes)
and explore ways in which woman have been denied
social power and right to various forms of
• Closely related to issues of socio-economic class and
• Critique Patriarchy- male-dominated
power structure throughout organized
society and in individual relationships.
• Egalitarianism- trend of thought that
favors equality for all people
• Essentialism - view that for any specific
entity there is a set of attributes which are
necessary to its identity and function.
Phases of Criticism
1. 1960’s - Focused on men’s treatment of women
2. Late 1960’s – 1970’s - Focused on place of
women as writer in literary history
3 phases of Women’s Novels
1. Women trying to write as men.
2. Polemics or castration Novels
3. Genuine Female Novel that for granted authenticity and
legitimacy of women’s point of view.
“If men keep science, reason, logic etc.
does that mean women should
embrace unreasonableness, illogic etc.? “
Critics consider male novelists' demeaning treatment or
marginalisation of female characters
Examples: Marry Ellman'sThinking About Women (1968)
Kate Millet's Sexual Politics (1969),
and Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch (1970)
Approaches of Feminist Criticism
1. Male Treatment Of Women
Elaine Showalter- A Literature of Their Own (1977)
3 Major Aspects
1. Examination of female writers and their place in literary
2. Consideration of the treatment of female characters in
books by both male and female writers.
3. Discovery and exploration of a canon of literature
written by women.
3. Madwoman Thesis
Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar's The Madwoman in the
Suggests that because society forbade women from
expressing themselves through creative outlets, their
creative powers were channelled into psychologically self-
destructive behaviour and subversive actions
4. French Feminism
Julia Kristeva, Hélène Cixousx, and Luce Irigaray,
It postulate the existence of a separate language belonging
to women that consists of loose, digressive sentences
written without use of the ego.
5. Depictions of Women by men
Students could begin approaching Great Writers Inspire by
considering the range of women depicted in early English
literature: from Chaucer's bawdy 'Wife of Bath' in The
Canterbury Tales to Spenser's interminably pure Una in The
6. Class of Female Writers
Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, suggests a female
novelist can only create successful work if she is of