The Color Purple By Alice Walker: Feminist Criticism Approach

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction to Feminist Criticism and The Color Purple
  2. Celie's Journey from Oppression to Self-Discovery
  3. The Role of Sisterhood and Female Bonds in Celie's Transformation
  4. Shug Avery: A Symbol of Feminine Liberation
  5. Challenging Gender Roles and Patriarchal Expectations
  6. Silencing of Women and the Fight for Agency
  7. Conclusion: The Color Purple as a Feminist Narrative

Introduction to Feminist Criticism and The Color Purple

Feminism in a layman language is giving equal rights and status to women. Unfortunately, women across the world are deprived of their basic rights. The woman is always considered as a “Secondary Sex”. (Quyoom 2017) “As a social movement, feminist criticism highlights the various ways in particular women have been suppressed, oppressed, and repressed …” (Bressler 2001). However, according to (Tyson 2008) feminist criticisms occurred in three main phases, firstly the feminine phase, secondly the feminist phase, and thirdly the 120 phase to present in which this phase characterized by the rediscovery of women’s text and womanhood. The story “The Color Purple” can say to be categorized in the third phase of feminist criticisms. The different waves of feminism from the beginning of time have demonstrated various occasions the challenges included when endeavoring to increase equal rights. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, exhibits some of these hardships. The women's approach focal point goes about as a tool for altogether analyzing Walker's depiction of women. Walker describing herself as a womanist, a “black feminist or feminist of color, Walker strives to explore the oppressions, the insanities, the loyalties, and the triumphs of black women and to sustain their creativity. The Color Purple novel is composed of letters, in the first portion of the novel, these letters are written by the protagonist, Celie, to God; the second portion are letters from her sister, Nettie in Africa, and the third section is a correspondence between both Celie and Nettie.

The Color Purple is dedicated to black women’s rights. A significant part of Walker's novel is gotten from her very own understanding, experiencing childhood in the provincial South as an uneducated and abused child. Walker deliberately makes female characters that are not the same as one another to make a comprehensive perspective of femininity. This brings us to the novel, this novel is a diary of a girl named Cecile who has gone through many hardships during her life, and also the life of one girl who over case hurt and suffering over and over, to make her a truly wonderful person in the end. The main character in The Color Purple Celie is also a protagonist a colored lady with little to zero education. She is one who has been utilized and mishandled by every one of the men throughout her life, and as a result of these men, she has almost no mental fortitude or aspiration in her life. She has so little mental fortitude, that all she needs to do is simply endure. Through the different ladies, she meets for the duration of her life like Shug, her sister, and Harpo's significant other, she figures out how to have fun, gain mental fortitude and joy.

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Celie's Journey from Oppression to Self-Discovery

Walker at the beginning of the novel depicts the severity of female injustice, by describing the repercussions of the main character Celie being raped and abused. At the beginning of the book, the Color Purple Celie is exacted to physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. “He beat me for dressing trampy, but he does it anyway”. Celie does not resist the abuse from her stepfather she in fact thinks abuse is the natural way things should be. However later on in the novel, we see from the influence of such females like Shug, Sophia, and Avery, Celie develops confidence that reaches its peak towards the ending of the novel. However, Celie can’t call her husband by any other name than ‘Mr__’. Physically Celie imagines herself to be a tree when she is beaten or sexually used by her husband and sees her life to be one of the pleasing others rather than herself. Heaven, she believes, will last always, while life on earth will ‘soon be over.’ Sofia’s strength and their developing friendship help Celie to see that a woman can stand up for herself but it is Shug Avery’s dedication to ‘Miss Celie’s Song’ that marks the beginning of Celie’s realization that she exists and that her existence has value.’

The Role of Sisterhood and Female Bonds in Celie's Transformation

The confidence that Celie develops throughout the novel can be attributed to the bond of sisterhood that Celie built with Nettie, Shug, and Sophia. The women in the novel, even those who have interests in the same men, nevertheless came together to support and sustain one another throughout this entire novel from start to end. The bond of sisterhood is so important, both literally in the persons of Nettie and Celie, Sofia and Odessa and metaphorically in the persons of Mary Agnes and Sofia, Albert's sister and Celie, Tashi and Olivia, and of course Shug Avery and Celie, who embody the twin roles of sisters and lovers in their relationship. This act of empowerment between these ladies in the novel through emotional teamwork is very suggestive of the importance of the collaboration between women.

Shug Avery: A Symbol of Feminine Liberation

Furthermore, Shug Avery another female character in the novel is characterized as the most 'liberated' of the women in the novel, although she constantly suffers from obnoxious attacks from the elders in her church because of her lifestyle. Her career as a blues singer enables her to experience much more freedom than the other women whose lives are bound by home, work, and child care. She is likewise considerably more explicitly freed than numerous different females, having various illicit relationships and making the most of her sexuality without any limitations or false guilt. She has, additionally, a solid faith in God which is liberated by the show, and her association with Celie is a focal theme of the novel. It is Shug who frees Celie in all parts of her life, managing her into enthusiastic, sexual, and financial autonomy and consolidating the jobs of sister, companion, and sweetheart. Snug possesses equality because of her own integrity as a person, and she passes this on to Celie. It is no mishap that the venture which gains Celie her independence is, paradoxically, a 'woman's job'- sewing - but the product is trousers, for women to wear.

Challenging Gender Roles and Patriarchal Expectations

Masculine and feminine nature is also discussed in the novel. Shug is described by Albert as being 'more manly than most men', but as Celie rightly shares with him, those qualities of honesty, independence, and integrity are equally well-grounded as qualities of females. The disturbance of gender roles also played a major role in the novel. Walker shows in the novel where Harpo’s insecurity about his masculinity leads to him having marital problems and his attempts to beat Sofia. In addition, Shug’s confident sexuality and resistance to male dominance cause her to be labeled as a tramp in the novel. However, what the novel also argues is that individuals’ men and women are both weak and strong, and gender should not dictate perceptions of qualities that are essentially human-like.

Silencing of Women and the Fight for Agency

Besides, the portrayal of ladies in 'The Color Purple is one that exhibits the invalidation of ladies' agency inside a patriarchal culture. Walker outlines in her novel that the voice of the lady was decreased by the way in which men treated most ladies and furthermore that a few ladies just lived for breath. Although some of the women in the text gained some form of agency, it is clear that patriarchal power still had a lot of dominance and still sought to maintain the silencing of women.

Celie is an example of the most silenced woman in the novel since there is evidence of her having incorporated within herself being a silenced individual. In the initial introduction of Fonso, Celie's step-father is that of being forceful towards Celie's mother. An act of choking Celie and the first words he says in the text is 'You better shut up...” The men are already being illustrated as violent and forcefully subduing the female figure. Celie’s inability to speak proper English can likewise be connected with being hushed in light of the fact that it is through language that individuals can reason with one another. Furthermore, Fonso sexually abuses Celie she gets pregnant and she gives birth to two children who are sold by Fonso without the consent of Celie or her mother. Celie says that God took away her first child but the use of God being the cruel being in this part of the reading just shows that Celie could not do anything about what Fonso did. However, Shug and Kate who is Albert’s sister gave Celie advice to not depend on a man and also to fight for herself and be independent, she stated “I don't fight, I stay where I'm told. But I'm still alive. Such words as what Celie stated make us the readers quite aware that Celie had actually made peace with her oppressed situation and that all she was grateful of merely breathing, even at the price of patriarchal cruelty. We can state and see that because of Celie’s actions and statements she makes that she is psychologically destroyed due to the men in her life. Additionally, throughout the novel, the author likewise gives the men a chance to express certain words and pose questions that ladies don't react to or answer to. This act of the silence of women lays more emphasis on the portrayal of the ladies' situation in society. In the novel, Celie barely responds to any of Albert's questions all the more particularly on the grounds that they are ordinarily belittling of her and he is always commanding Celie to do something. The clarity of female abuse in 'The Color Purple is irrefutably sustained by men and it drives the quieting of ladies just as builds the roles they are required to fulfill as women. The harsh treatment implemented by the patriarchy for the sake of female accommodation doesn't just give men the scepter of injustice yet, in addition, keeps ladies from becoming moms and spouses as the male-centric framework anticipates. However, it likewise destroys the passionate association between families.

Conclusion: The Color Purple as a Feminist Narrative

Conclusively, The Color Purple is the perfect novel to describe the Feminist Criticism Approach. Walker wrote about three different black women, and how each of them was criticized for being of the opposite sex. The male domination over women in every part of life is illustrated, but in the course of time, women want to release themselves from the abuses of men and be independent. They are succeeding in their aim and we see the traces of female domination in the name of Celie, the protagonist. We see the male domination over women in every part of life, but in the course of time, women want to release themselves from the abuses of men and be independent. They are succeeding in their aim and we see the traces of female domination in the name of Celie, the protagonist. However, Shug Avery was depicted overall as the ultimate feminist symbol through of her liberal approach to life. The feminist approach is seen solely through these females characters depicted in the novel by Walker.

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The Color Purple By Alice Walker: Feminist Criticism Approach. (2021, August 13). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 25, 2024, from
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