The Role Of Women In Epics
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The Role of Women in Epics
Epic of Sundiata is about Malinke people and describing the tale of Sundiata Keita, the hero of the poem.Sundjata Keita was the founder of the Mali Empire as he was mystic hunter fighter. The epic provides information about the history of the Mali Empire as well as about the culture of the Mande ethnic group (Niane, Tamsir, and Pickett).Mali culture clearly defines the roles of men and women in society. Men had the responsibility of lifting heavy things, hunting as well as upholding the structural integrity of the house while women were responsible for upbringing children. Thus, in this epic, patriarchal society has been shown that gave women very few rights and every power is given to them in their relationships with men.For example, Sassouma Berete gets concerned about her privilege, in case of dismissing of her son. Moreover, Magan Kon Fatta had to marry SologonDjataas she was fated to have a very special son.
Women in this culture are unequal to men and they are shown in inferior roles having no official powers. The first woman in the poem is introduced badly by describing her physical appearance. She was ugly, have a monstrous eyes as well as a hump on her back. Her future roles as wife and mother have also been discussed. Moreover, women in this society had ashare in the property but they do not have any position of power. Then after her husband died he ruled through her son. Then another woman is Sassouma’s daughter Nana Triban, who is also shown in an inferior role as betraying her husband. She was forcefully married to Soumaoro and was docking the trust of men in general and husbands in specifically.
In another epic, Paradise Lost by John Milton "the role of a woman", is also discussed as subordinate to man. Eve is subordinate to Adam as she had been created from Adam's rib.The epic is showing woman's fewer obligations to God and more to man. She is shown here without any power and created only for the patriarchal needs (John). When Eve was got tricked by Satan when she was blamed totally for the fall of Paradise. Thus, she had been shown as less rational and more aesthetic.Moreover, Milton has also used the specific language for Eve. There is a use of words such as wanton, disheveled and vine to show her submission to man. In addition, with Eve another female character is sin which is an abstract character in this epic.
Hence, Milton in this epic is showing the flaws of women that she can have in her personality. She was shown as a weak character that was easily captured by sin. Her beauty is also shown as a flaw of her personality and this beauty seduced men. Here, the selfish personality of Eve is also shown. Moreover, men in this epic are shown as intelligent while the woman is shown as self-absorbed. For example, Adam was questioning the divine purpose whereas Eve was wandering in the garden at that time. Here Milton is showing the limitation of a woman’s mind.
Therefore, in both epics, women were mainly showed as subordinated to their male counterparts. They had no powers or powers in their relationship with their male counterparts. In the Epic of Sundiata, women had a specific role to play in their cultural context. They had very little powers and given to them in relation to their male counterparts. Similarly, in the Paradise Lost by John Milton, a woman is also shown in a specificinferiorcharacter. She was made responsible for getting lost from paradise due to her sinful nature.
Niane, Djibril Tamsir, and G. D. Pickett. Sundiata: An epic of old Mali. London: Longmans, 1965.
Milton, John. "Paradise Lost. Ed. Stephen Orgel and Jonathan Goldberg." Oxford: Oxford University Press 5 (2004): 25-6.
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