Do All Novels About Women Contain the Topic of Love?

By Divya Kaliappan, Year 10 Journalist Leader

Following our NHEHS Book Week earlier this month which took “How to be a heroine: Women in Literature” as its theme, our Journalist Leader Divya wrote about a subject which had been puzzling her for years.

“I’m sure many of us couldn’t wait to turn the page to find out what happened to Oliver Twist or how Huckleberry Finn’s journey up the river was going.

I remember, when I was younger, always asking for a plethora of books, only to finish them in a few weeks. I would always be reading about one thing or the other but one question that always crossed my mind as I got older was why all the female characters had a constrained characteristic? Elizabeth Bennett, Jo March and Hermione Granger are the most well-known literary female figures to this day according to “Reader’s Digest.” Then why, after following their supposedly feminist journey are we ultimately reading a romantic novel?

Some of the best literary works of fiction that are considered feminist novels consist of an uncountable number of women blinded by love. Jane Eyre considerably lowered her self-esteem by confessing her love for Mr Rochester and as were all of the Bennet sisters in Pride and Prejudice. I wanted to delve into a book about a woman’s journey of self discovery or one Bildungsroman that didn’t consist of two hundred pages of complaints about a rejection from a boy.

Many of these texts I have listed are older, more conservative books, however the majority of books written in the modern day containing women all also consist of love. Katniss Everdeen from the “Hunger Games Trilogy” was one character we all thought was sure to bring us a page gripping tale about a selfless sister, which in part it was, but after she fell in love with Peeta, a section of that feministic hope was ruined.

Many women and men picked up on this ongoing trend in fiction and after much research, Alison Bechdel, a cartoonist, came up with the well-known Bechdel test. To pass the Bechdel test, a piece of fiction must feature at least two women, these women must talk to each other, and their conversation must concern something other than a man. As simple as it seems most novels have failed this test with the majority of Hollywood films failing. According to BBC analysis less than half of the 89 films named best picture at the Oscars have passed the Bechdel Test. To me, it’s unclear as to why this is so and why so little is being done to change this. However, personally, I believe that by no means should a novel not contain women discussing their love interest but instead, is there a reason as to why fictional women cannot pass the Bechdel test and who,if anyone, should we blame?”

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