Activities for Women and Family Issues

Dr. Diane Thompson, NVCC, ELI

Select the Activity question you wish to respond to. Make a copy of the question to begin your Activity. Post your response to the Blackboard Activity 8: Women and Family Issues Forum.

graphic of one chili pepperHedda (Hedda Gabler) and Chandara ("Punishment") both choose to die rather than deal with families and societies that they cannot endure. Compare/contrast the two women, the mens' worlds they live in, and the final choices they make. Support your ideas with relevant examples from both texts.  
graphic of one chili pepperRead the short essay "Married Life" and then read "Giribala" or "Punishment." How does the essay help you to understand the situation in each story? Support your ideas with relevant examples from both texts.
graphic of one chili pepperIn "A Room of One's Own," Virginia Woolf explores the lack of independence of women in her day. Compare her situation to that of Thea in Hedda Gabler. Do you see any parallels? Any meaningful differences? What exactly? Support your ideas with specific examples from the texts.
two chili peppersMatryona, the mother figure in "Matryona's Home," gives everything she has to others and dies wretchedly, not even appreciated by those to whom she has given so much. Compare her to the Mother in Six Characters. Can you see any interesting parallels or differences? Support your ideas with specific examples from the two stories.
two chili peppersSelect one of the four stories about women from Unit 3, Task 7 ("Punishment," "Giribala," "Matryona's Home" and "Wedding at the Cross") and make up your own interesting question about it. Answer your question using plenty of specific examples from the story to support your ideas.
two chili peppers"Punishment" and "Giribala" are both compassionate stories about the suffering of Bengali women within their traditional, rural families and society. Tagore's tone is ironic, while Devi's is bitter. Devi's story is also the more radical, the more feminist, and the more angry of the two. Compare/ contrast these two stories and the different sorts of messages you think the two authors are trying to get across about the situation of repressed women. Support your ideas with examples from both stories.
two chili peppersSelect two dysfunctional families from the readings in Unit 3. Good choices are "Married Life" and "Giribala" or "Punishment" and Hedda Gabler. Examine exactly what is "dysfunctional" about the relationships within each family and consider whether the patterns of dysfunction are similar or different. Support your ideas with specific examples from both texts.
two chili peppersIn both "The Wedding at the Cross" and "Giribala" a woman chooses to walk away from a marriage. Examine the situation of each woman to explain exactly why she chose to do so. Support your ideas with examples from both stories.
graphic of three chili peppersMiss Juliana Tesman, in Hedda Gabler is happy to sacrifice anything and everything to make sure her nephew George Tesman is happy. Thea is similarly inclined towards Loevborg. Ibsen quite clearly approves of these women as the right sort of women, loving, giving, uncomplaining helpmates to the men in their lives. Devi, just as clearly, is furious about the fate of Giribala and her two daughters sold by their father into prostitution in "Giribala." Do you think these very different conceptions of a woman "giving" everything are rooted in different societies or in different people writing the stories or both? Support your ideas with specific examples from both texts.
graphic of three chili peppersIf you want to explore women's roles in India further, watch the marvelous (although occasionally violent and sexual) video, Bandit Queen, which is actually based on the life of a lower caste Indian woman who was raped, became a bandit, was caught, went to jail, learned to read, was released from jail and became politically active. Compare/ contrast this amazing woman's life story in the film with the passive solution Chandara chooses in "Punishment." Do you think such a choice was possible for Chandara? Why or why not? Use examples from the film and the story to support your ideas.
graphic of three chili peppersLeave it to Me by Bharati Mukherjee is a stunning, disturbing novel that blends aspects of the Indian Devi goddess myth with the ancient Greek Electra myth. The heroine, originally from India, moves from New York State to San Francisco pursuing knowledge of her origins, with deadly consequences to those around her. If this intrigues you, get the book, read it, and then write an essay commenting on the roles and myths of women in the story. Or, if you prefer, write about the multi-cultural blend of myths and settings. Be sure to have some interesting point to your essay. (Available as a paperback: Fawcett Columbine, Ballantine Publishing Group, New York, 1997. ISBN 0-449-00396-5. $12,95 in USA.) Note: This Activity can be worth double credit if you write a thoughtful, well-developed essay. If you are trying for double credit, be sure to write that at the top of your Activity.


© Diane Thompson: 8/1/1998; last updated: July 28, 2012