Monday, February 6, 2012

The Uniqness of Female Characters in Turgenev's Novel

Looking at Captain’s Daughter by A. S. Pushkin and Hero of Our Time by M. Lermotov, one would argue that Russian literature consists pre-dominantly of male authored Russian novels. In these novels some interesting female characters have been produced but they are always portrayed as minor characters. Reflecting on this idea, female characters in the mentioned novels often tend to function as a focus for male desires, fears, or anxieties. In most cases female representation in the literature is based upon the stereotypical images of either being wicked or completely naïve and innocent.  However, in Turgenev’s novel Father and Sons, women characters have as much plot development as their male counterparts do.
In the representation of female characterization in the Fathers and Sons, Turgenev presents the characters to the reader with the fullness and maturity. Turgenev’s representation of the powerful female character Anna Odintsova with her intellectual prowess, novel ideas in science, politics and arts is indeed remarkable especially when contrasted with Bazarov. It is interesting to note that even Katya, who in many ways represents the values of “typical representation,” is quite capable of discussing Heine’s writings with Arkady. The women in Turgenev’s novel are fully capable of engaging in the intellectual debates of their time, and to some extent, they have broader perspectives than male characters, resulting positive achievements for this novel’s representation. In contrast to Nikolai Petrovich Kirsanov, Anna Odintsova is shown to be highly efficient in managing a large estate, while at the same time ordering the daily life of the household, which irritates and confuses Bazarov even though he enjoys her company. Another interesting feature of Turgenev’s representation is his relative freedom in writing about sexual relationships of his characters, and about their sexual feelings, attitudes and experiences. For the reader it is quite refreshing to find a woman character who is sexually mature, and who is too innocent or naively youthful. Unlike many other novels, marriage marks the end of the heroine’s story; as if women are not married any active sexuality in a female character is destined to carry ominous moral implications from the society as a whole. In Fathers and Sons, female characters seem to become his main characters and possess a unique and interesting identity in their own right. 

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post, Furugh. I am wondering what you think about the wedding at the end of "Fathers and Sons"? How does this add to your reading of the female characters?