In the article “Literary Paternity” written by Sandra M. Gilbert, a strong argument against male literary hegemony is revealed through the artistic and historic revealing of paternalistic influence throughout literature. In this article the writings of men become contrasted with the poetry of women. It is a revelation of patriarchalentitlement clashing against female aestheticism. There is also a clear connection made between patriarchal views of culture and patriarchal views of literature. Gilbert creates a strong argument that cultural and societal ideology forms and shapes the ideology of literature. In such, women have historically found themselves outside of the power-circle in society, and therefore outside of thepower-circle in literature. Those in the power-circle were those with a penis; those with a penis were those who held the pen. Gilbert does not present here a frustrated attack of revenge concerning the injustice against women, but rather a historical and ideological study of how the views of men led to the disregard of women’s input in literature. It is a insight developed through the observations ofhistorical, cultural, and patriarchal ideologies laid bare before us and suspended naked in mid-air with an awkward sensation that triggers the question, “Who now holds the pen?”
I have summarized Gilbert’s work into seven different “triggers” that Gilbert addresses. Each “trigger” addresses a particular insight into the position of women in literature, and in turn the position of the literary“pen”.
1. The Metaphorical Penis:
“Is a pen a metaphorical penis?”
Gilbert establishes a clear connection between male sexuality and male power, and therefore a connection between masculine influences on literature. If sexually the penis is a symbol of male power, then in turn the pen becomes a symbol of literary power. The connection of the penis and the pen, immediately creates a seclusion ofthe female. Physical inequality therefore became the catalyst for literary inequality between male and females.
2. Auctor et Auctoritas:
“The writer ‘fathers’ his text just as God fathered the world.”
It can be argued that literary authority depends on authorial authority. Morphologically, the word author is developed from the latin verb augure meaning “to increase”, the word auctoritas whichrefers to production and a right of possession. The latin word auctor (author) is therefore rooted in the concepts of “creation” and “possession”. Therefore, in the same way that God the father finds His creation in mankind, so too does the author find his creation in his writing. The author can be thought to create and therefore possesses the work and thus shapes the perspective of literarypaternity. This authoritative power is defined in four notions:
(a.) An individual has the power to initiate and begin.
(b.) Power and its product are an increase over what was there previously.
(c.) He who has power controls its issues and derivations.
(d.) Authority maintains the continuity of its course.
Likewise, the power of the author relates to the similar issue of generativeliterary power. If literature is to be understood as a male gender quality, then it establishes itself as an “unfeminine” quality when applied to a female. The quality of writing becomes associated with the quality of a father, and not the female. A writer “fathers” his creation and possesses his literary work as his property. Moreover, this possessive nature previously led to the tendency of themale to objectify the female characters in his writings in the same way he objectified woman in reality. As an object, the female became a possession, under the power of the paternal authority of the father and therefore was perceived lesser than her masculine counterpart. The female was placed in the role of possession, and the male in the role of creation. For the female to attempt to progress...