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The role of the female in male dominated societies is a prevalent theme in American literature and has been explored by countless authors Edith Wharton in The House of Mirth and Zora Neale Hurston in Their Eyes Were Watching God are just two of the many who examine this issue in their literary works Although the novels were published over thirty years apart and speak of women of distinct cultures and societies each author uses her novel to make a social commentary on the effects of the societal rules and expectations of patriarchal cultures toward women As is clear after an examination of the protagonists in each novel the consequences of such rules depend upon the way in which one approaches them Although both women are indeed burdened by the rules of society Whartons Lily Bart abides by the expectations placed upon her and is ultimately destroyed by them while Hurstons Janie is able to rise above and triumph over assumptions regarding proper behavior for women The expectations of women in patriarchal cultures are evident in the early pages of Their Eyes Were Watching God as Janies grandmother Nanny Crawford arranges the marriage of her grand-daughter to Logan Killicks the respectable farmer who will provide and care for her Nanny reminds the reluctant Janie that she aint got nobody but me And mah head is ole and tilted towards de grave Neither can you stand alone by yoself Hurston 15 It is clear that the common belief is that as a woman Janie will be unable to care and provide for herself and Nanny sees marriages as the only way out for Janie her chance to escape poverty and sit on a high place While Janie does succumb to her grandmothers wishes she is aware that this relationship is not the loving marriage she has envisioned and asserts these sentiments when she proclaims Ah aint takin dat ole land tuh heart neither Ah could
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