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American literature is male To read the canon of what is currently considered classic American literature is perforce to identify as male Our literature neither leaves women alone nor allows them to participate Judith Fetterley Walker 171 Mark Twains writings fall under this criticism in the minds of many a literary critic especially those of the feminist mentality As far as Twains art is concerned the charges against him on this front are familiar ones his women characters tend to be severely limited stereotypical and flat Meanwhile all of his truly interesting and more fully rounded characters - with some key exceptions - are male Fishkin 58 But it would be a mistake to equate the limited range of roles Twain gave women in his work with the idea that women were of limited importance in Twains mind Twains relationships with women both in his life and in his writing were far more complicated and interesting than this narrow image conveys Fishkin 53 Mary Ellen Goad defined the role that Twain wished women to play in his own life in order to illuminate his creation of female characters Twain viewed the role of the female in a particular and to the modern mind strange way He operated on the theory that the male of the species was rough and crude and needed the softening influence of a woman or if necessary many women The primary function of the woman was thus the reformation of man Walker 173 In Twains stories Women frequently represent the moral standard by which men are measured Changes in perceptions of the realities of womens lives during the last hundred years reveal that although Twain may have used idealizations of women as the basis for many of his female characters those characterizations play a vital if not underrated role in the society of which they are a part Though the male characters in the story may perceive these roles only as
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