Negative portrayal of Androgynous Women in Contemporary Literature: A Study of Hamid’s Moth Smoke and Shamsie’s Kartography

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Harmain Rukh, Summayya Amra, Munazza Mahmood


Patriarchal system subjugates women while elevating the status of men to superior beings. Considering literature’s power to affect people’s perception, it has been used as an instrument to keep women in an inferior status. This has been done by portraying fictional androgynous female characters as evil, greedy and cunning creatures who would reach any lengths to achieve their malicious goals. After many years of feminists’ struggle, the trends in writing have started to change and authors have started portraying women as strong, authoritative decision makers instead of the cliché representations that women had. Literature is an effective medium for bringing about change in a society and it is used in order to challenge and combat the stereotypical and oversimplified portrayal of women. This research analyzes Moth Smoke by Hamid and Kartography by Shamsie from the perspective of androgyny. Both of these novels apparently combat the stereotypical portrayals of women by giving them androgynous characteristics. However, upon an in-depth analysis, it is revealed that these novels also contribute to perpetuating the traditional gender roles and deteriorating the female image by giving them morally corrupt personalities and by negatively portraying their freedom. The real experiences of women remain unknown to the world at large because such novels play a significant role in totalizing experiences and in generalizing one thing over a whole group. The analysis of the texts is carried out on the basis of the conceptual framework which is grounded in Ruether’swork on androgyny.

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