Limitations and Expectations: The Oppression of Women

There’s a vast array of interpretation that can be made about the meanings and messages behind the acclaimed novel “The Scarlet Letter” and the modern film Juno; though, as separate works. However, putting them in a side by side comparison forces one to hunt for common ground as simple, and as applicable, as the statement, “The theme of this is story is that lying is bad”. I personally chose to view both works through a certain feminist lens; a lens that looked at society as consistenly divided by gender and its accompanying stereotypes. Through hours of labor, I composed a charchoal piece symbolic of the past and current state of women, and the normalcy of its oppression.

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My piece is an 18x24 inch large charcoal drawing, consisting of a nude woman with one arm in a chain, and the other hand pressed against a wall in front of her. The statement that I want to get across regards the standards to which women are held to because their womanhood, and how oppressive is has been, and will continue to be. First, the woman in my drawing is nude, yet she cannot see because her hair covers face. The nudity is symbolic of the vulnerability that women face consistently, and the impaired sight is a sort of conditional disadvantage. I deem it conditional because as the woman in the picture can choose to push the hair from her face with her free hand, women in our world today can choose to let their womanhood be a hinderance or disadvantage. A little bit more obviously, the wall and the chain are the constraints of society and gender roles in the world. Though, I chain specifically represents the seemingly unbreakable aspect of it, and the wall shows the seemingly immovable aspect of it. Both obstacles are repressive reagrdless, but I felt the need do incoperate both.

Speaking of obstacles, I honestly didn’t face too many that while creating this piece. My inial ideal had changed- after we finished Juno- but the idea was still very similar. I started by setting a mid-tone on the entire page, and began to construct a profile, or side view, face. From there, I losely worked my way down, making sure to outline the arm placement, and shape of her torso. It was here that I began to make contrast, shade and highlight. If anything, making sure that the darkest areas of my piece was dark enough, and the lightest areas of my piece were light enough, was my biggest challenge. Also, I’m very finicky when it comes to anatomy, so I tried my hardest to get my proportions correct. I spent a good hour just on my left hand alone! After I finished my hand, I touched up on my lighting, and wanted to make sure that my shadows were cast in the right places. I then transitioned into the chain and then the wall. Both objects didn’t necessarily have particular shading that added their sybolism, their actual appearance wasn’t something to focus on, but rather what they stood for.

On that note, I think that I did a great job with creating a piece that clearly displayed the message that I wanted to get across, throught my effort. Charcoal is a very messy medium, but if channeled correctly, it can produce a beautiful outcome. I believe that I worked hard and precise enough on the actual image of my drawing, but also, I believe that I composed its entirety in a way that isn’t too hard to pick up on. Furthermore, I think that I made sure to encompass both pieces of work. My theme can be applied to “The Scarlet Letter” a bit more blatantly than it can in Juno, but if you squint, you can see that Juno broke many gender stereotypes herself, though it wasn’t as focused upon. On a different note, I believe that I could have made my shading a bit more smoothed out in the drawing. I also could have put her in a different space. Ultimately, all of possible things that I could have done better, are techincal. Yet if I could do this all over, I’d try to create a piece that captures themes that are bit more critical in thinking.  Overall, I’m satisfied with my work and portrayl of my ideas.