Feminist Classic books are not a fun read, they never were and never will be. Every word on those pages speaks and shouts of the oppression women had lived for centuries after centuries. It needs courage in heart and strength in soul to go back to those texts who sang of women’s struggles and fight for equality. Yet, everyone must return back to those feminist texts now and then learn what and why things went south as Virginia Woolf says “The history of men’s opposition to women’s emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself.”
Here Are 5 Feminist Classics You Must Read:
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
This is a story that begins with glamour and beauty but slowly descends into doom and despair, alike women’s dreams. You will find how there are so many layers to a person that a seemingly perfect life may have, so many imperfections lying hidden and behind. The Bell Jar contains a powerful narrative through the mind of a depressed person. You can see Esther’s downfall right before your eyes even though everything was glittering and sparkling a minute ago. Spoiler Alert: The story ends on a positive note as if Plath is offering hope that no matter how severe depression affects people you can get better. The sad news is Sylvia Plath died by suicide one month after publishing this book, so somewhere in the pages, you tend to believe that book is less fiction and more autobiographical.
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
No, I will not lie but this book will set you free. In the text Woolf adopts a number of personas to narrate. What is worth noticing is Woolf’s ability to represent an everywoman figure by use of the forename MARY. After several re-reading of the text, you will understand that the issue of women’s emancipation is more complex than what the title suggests. There will be melancholy and anger from your throat to your heart as the realisation that sometimes it is just as important to ask the right questions as it is to offer answers will hit you in the head. And NO the text doesn’t offer any constructive solutions to the problems it raises.
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
There is no easy way to understand the notion of de Beauvoir’s seminal work. The wry tone of interventions on gender pay gaps, the subjugation of women based on sex, and the oppressive demands of femininity. It is not a casual read because to me it’s an intensely political book, and shouldn’t it? Simone says harsh things which are neither easy to listen to nor to understand. As very significantly she pointed out that humanity’s very structure was built around a man and as such, it is a man that defines woman, not herself. She can only be seen in relation to him, as the Other. De Beauvoir posited her radical thoughts and highlighted that woman remains a “vassal” with neither money nor political power strong enough to transform her secondary position. It’s a must-read if your idea of equality stops bargaining at the mention of the word feminism.
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Dealing with the narrative on mental illness and marginalization of women in the 1800’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” remains a masterpiece of women’s literature and feminism. You will find that even now parts of the theme echo through the ages as pertinent as it was then. You will feel suffocation in your body when the narrative deals with the hallucination of a woman trapped behind the paper begging to be let free. In my opinion, this is not a particularly fun book to read. But, rather an important one. Women do slip into madness when they realise the extent of oppression upon them. It is a scary realisation and The Yellow Wallpaper is a scary book.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott’s 150-Year-Old Masterpiece is inclusive and diverse for the time being written. The world you are going to witness is as detailed as our own and the story is equally realistic. You will find that each chapter is like an arc of its own focusing on certain characters and foreshadowing upcoming consequences. It will be easy on the mental ground to go through the ordinary life of the March family filled with extraordinary narration in fact the sheer brilliance in the narration. It will not be an exaggeration if I state that Alcott wasn’t just writing a story. She was conveying an idea, an emotion, and a sense of resolution to empower her readers with her characters.
The views expressed are the author’s own. The list is indicative and not exhaustive.
Suggested Reading: Death On The Nile: An Adaptation For Those Who Haven’t Read Agatha Christie’s Book