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A Feminist View of Auburns Proof - Essay Example

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A Feminist View of Auburns Proof

A Feminist View of Auburn’s “Proof”

Written by a male writer, the play succeeds in empowering women as it shows ideal qualities of a female character; however, it contains biases against a female Bildungsroman character. Born and educated in the modern times, David Auburn may purposely write what is pleasing to the feminist population but certain aspects of his play, especially characterization, still reflect biases against women. According to Hohne and Wussow, the task of the feminist literary critic is not just to point out ways in which the female figure is misrepresented in a piece of literature. Rather, the modern feminist critic is concerned with “inconsistencies that are often obscured by a self-censoring phallocentric text” (152). Therefore, the tasks of this paper are to analyze the play “Proof” to see if there are misrepresentations done and to illustrate non-feminist elements that may not be intended by the writer but are reflective of discrimination that the present society holds against women. The play explores characterization of the protagonist to emphasize the theme of Bildungsroman. According to Rau in the web site of Literary Encyclopedia, the theme of Bildungsroman started in Germany in the latter half of 18th century. This theme shows the actual or metaphorical journey of a character from youth to maturity. In the play, Catherine, being the protagonist, undergoes the journey or development from being self-conscious to welcoming change brought about by falling in love. She is the daughter of Robert, a former mathematician who recently died after suffering from mental disturbance for some years. Robert is a prolific professor widely known in a university in Chicago and in the world of mathematics. As the protagonist, Catherine is the center of the story, pictured as her father’s protege. All events lead to her development as a woman, hence adhering to the Bildungsroman theme. As the story develops, she is seen to share the qualities of her father whose world is limited to mathematics and the old ruined house that is supposed to symbolize her comfort zone. Later, as the events unravel, Catherine has no choice but to adopt to her environment when her father dies. Like other female developing protagonists, Catherine shows traditional qualities of patience and courage. Despite her father’s sanity and immobility, Catherine does not leave him but rather gives up her education just to look after him. In the 2005 movie adaptation starring Anthony Hopkins and Gwyneth Paltrow, Catherine is pictured as more subdued and submissive to her father. Unlike her sister Claire who moves to New York for convenience and success, Catherine takes courage to bear the sacrifice of living and taking care of her father, engaging in conversations with him, and dealing with insanity which she thinks could likewise affect her. The traditional qualities of Catherine do not make her less of a Bildungsroman character. Rather, they help to develop her character and note the transformation in it. As she later transforms into a brave woman who asserts herself and her abilities to Hal, Catherine also illustrates the possibility of overcoming hindrances relating to keeping herself sane. The ending suggests that she is willing to start a new beginning with Hal as she opens the ...Show more


The best of contemporary literature contain the most daring feminist ideas. Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple,” Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” and even Stephenie Meyer’s newly released sequel of Twilight, “Breaking Dawn” speak of the power of the woman to be the best that she can be and to realize her dream using her intellectual ability…
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A Feminist View of Auburns Proof essay example
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