I want you to add two pages to my research paper. add a traditional introduction to my research in which you show the historical context of women in the late 19th century in the American west and how they are marginalized. then go to the middle of my research and add quotations from the novel itself talking about Alexandra merits. please write three or for quotations with your comments. don’t change anything in the argument, any addition should support my argument. you can delete or edit any paragraph you feel it is weak. please write your addition in a different color or font.
the following is my research paper:
Willa Cather’s O pioneers! and the American Frontier female Roles
Although women of the 19th century American West enjoyed a considerable amount of human rights like the rights of inheriting lands, working in some jobs, such as teaching and nursing, they faced many challenges and problems that spoiled their enjoyment of these limited rights. Women in the nineteenth century American West were described in many historical and literary contexts as being secondary and marginal. The traditional roles of women in the American West society at that time viewed woman as being nurturer, wives and sometimes prostitutes. In other words, woman, as far as most of the frontier literary and historical contexts can tell, is “an object,” a spoil of war or the warriors’ “fame”. Woman is something that helps or prevents the adventurer but she is not the adventurer herself (Quawas).
In fact, gender played critical role in the determination of roles or role allocation in the context of the American West society. It is ideal to note that roles were executed in relation to one’s gender. There were roles specifically for men and women in the society because of their gender differences. Women focused on the execution of home roles such as household chores, child bearing, rearing, making meals, taking care of the husband, and enhancing the image and reputation of the family and home. Men in this context were superior to their women counterparts within the society.
In this essay, I will shed light on a woman who has the qualities and merits that enable her to break the fence of gender roles in her society. By applying Psychoanalysis and feminist theory, I will analyze the personality of the independent, strong, risk taker, an smart Alexandra Bergson in Willa Cather’s O Pioneers!. The significance of my research is that it studies the possibility of female’s success in life under certain circumstances and refutes the opinion which suggests the leadership is a male-specific quality.
The 1913“O Pioneers” by Willa Cather, one of the greatest American women writers, is a good illustration for the frontier literature. The novels heroine embodies all feminine characters who disregard the complex American West during the time the novel was written. The narratives reveals out the difficulties experienced by women at the end of nineteenth century. The story also highlights how women struggle to remain significance to their life missions. Cather highlights the discussion of the women characters and their struggle to overcome societal challenges. The story demonstrates the power of a woman through underscoring obstacles and drawbacks that the main character in the story overcomes. The protagonist demonstrates a powerful personality that helps her overcome the hardships she is exposed to (Duby, Perrot and Pantel 68). Through the main character, Alexandra, Cather wants to assess the temperament as well as the intellectual propensity of a female character exposed to numerous life challenges. The author designs the narrative to psychoanalyze the intellectual propensity of a female with respect to her capacity to endure opposition and provide proficient leadership in the society (Duby, Perrot and Pantel 68). Besides, Cather accomplishes a feminist theory study through assessing the aspects and conditions that make the theory a reality during the period in which the story was set. She epitomizes the part female characters play in the novel considering that the main character in the novel is a female.
Alexandra, an intelligent and a strong-willed woman and the main character in the novel, illustrates an evaluation of psychological, physical and mental strength displayed through women who lived in the late nineteenth century West America. Willa stresses the role of Alexandra from the initial moment when she introduces the character to the reader, “His sister was a tall, strong girl, and she walked rapidly and resolutely, as if she knew exactly where she was going and what she was going to do next” (Cather 12). From all indications, Cather wants to depict Alexandra as a person who notwithstanding her gender identity, is disinclined to agree to the responsibility of a nineteenth century weak and hackneyed female. Alexandra is strong-willed and she has resolved to attain her goals through all possible means even if it means acting in conflict with the traditional representation of a woman in her society. Emil views her as an individual with the ability to assist him in taking part in representing her strength.
Alexandra displays a powerful psychological potency through her pursuit for land. Her connection with the land represents the extreme fight back between the huge manipulative forces and the human agency. The psychological potency demonstrated by Alexandra is visible when her father assigns her the family land. Alexandra’s father wants her to manage and control his land when he dies. The father has more confidence and trust in Alexandra compared to his sons, Oscar and Lou. He writes a will that indicates that Alexandra would take control and care of the estates owned by the father once he is dead.
Three years after her father’s death, Alexandra manages and protects the land according to her father’s wishes. Through this action, Alexandra illustrates grand strength as a woman. She puts forth her strength upon the land and this action shapes and bends her. Her connection with her father’s land becomes deeper than simple influence or control. Cather demonstrates the potency of a woman through the manner in which Alexandra successfully controls her family’s estates through application of her aptitudes. The creation of this character by Cather, a character who shows great personality that earn the confidence and conviction of her father, is crucial in acknowledging the goals and themes of this narrative. Alexandra exhibits commendable attributes that makes her the most outstanding person among her friends in the narrative. Cather does not represent any other character with commendable attributes like those of Alexandra. The representations of Alexandra’s attributes include her intellectual and psychological physique.
The intellectual and psychological stature of Alexandra is analyzable through Sigmund Freud’s theory, which claims that females’ psychic energy can be produced via libido. Cathexis force, which refers to the procedure of investment of emotional and mental energy in an object, a person or an idea, assists individuals in investing in mental power that facilitates and speeds up the making of decisions relating to life (Freud 88). According to Sigmund Freud, human’s conduct can be inspired through a force to live. Freud’s theory is applicable in evaluating the attributes of Alexandra in the novel. It is therefore comprehensible why Alexandra is capable of achieving her set goals and objectives. Cather uses the character of Alexandra in an impressive manner to attain her objectives of giving a picture of the temperament of females in the course of the 19th Century (Slote112). Immense psychological potency is depicted when Alexandra remains powerful, objective and flexible amidst disputes in the setting following the famine.
Alexandra views the objective of safeguarding the family land as achievable, and must be accomplished. This shows her strong will, and as result, Alexandra applies great cathexis force whenever she formulates and puts in immense intellectual energy in making constructive decisions. The aspiration to guarantee a secured economic prospect for her people received support and motivation from Alexandra’s psychosomatic composition (Slote 112). She approaches the condition of her family estate in a different way compared to farmers in her community. Her wonderful approach to problems facing her family is enhanced through her mental composition. Her inclination and aspiration is the call for life preservation. She makes wise decisions that allow her to attain her goals, and this true account of Sigmund Freud’s theory (Freud 23). The resolution to get involved in adaptive techniques of farming highlights another case in point of a motivation and need to safeguard life in an agrarian community faced with an appalling famine.
The livelihood of Alexandra’s relatives receives supports through agricultural activities, which include farming. This aspect makes Alexandra to be very keen when making vital decisions. She is careful to make decisions that would not jeopardize their lives and source of livelihood. This is evidenced when Alexandra decides to embrace alternative farming methods that are productive even in unfavorable weather conditions. Through obtaining ideas from men and women regarding their farming methods, Alexandra gains composite comprehension regarding how to grow crops. This knowledge offers her the prospect to recognize that she could be of benefit to the society, where she would help her community recover from the dangerous situation that it was facing. Through demonstrating the strength, will and influence of Alexandra to the members of her community, the author develops the exceptional attributes of Alexandra .Through Alexandra’s demonstrated traits; Cather is able to put across an important point to the reader.
In addition to this, the pronouncement to mortgage the land in possession by the family tends to display a scholar potential by the character. It is evident that she is in a position to talk her brothers into settling for the idea of trusting in the promise by the untamed country. At this point, she is in a position to re-mortgage the piece of land through a bid in order for her to purchase more. It is definite that this is a possible occurrence now when the land is under drought along with depression. The mentioning of drought at this particular point is appropriate since the author targets at enlightening the reader that the town Hanover was working to ensure that it does not give up into being blown away. In depth, it requires a high degree of braveness for one to make such a decision. From an overview of the story, it is precise that the most individuals have freight concerning the drought season that makes them result to purchasing their pieces of land.
Given an example of Carl Linstrum, he resolves to purchase his piece of land the relocate to a safer locality. Alexandra’s take on the matter tends to be bold unlike how Linstrum decides to purchase his piece of land in fear of the pronounced drought. She puts every key point into consideration to result in a wise decision with influence of both her mental along with psychological strengths. One of the interesting facts about Alexandra is that she opts to ensure that environment within her is safe instead of cowardly relocating to other grounds. This leads to her decision of re-investing. After the drought, it is evident that Alexandra appears to have made the right decision regarding maintain her location and making the environment conducive for her survival. After that, trying moment there is evidence of Alexandra coming across certain persons and giving them hope. A better example is her brother who was in shock to realize that Alexandra was still hopeful about focusing her investment on land despite the fact that it was unworthy.
One of the key roles by Emil is that she manages to be imperative on the part guaranteeing that Emil remains hopeful. An alternative aspect about Alexandra is that she portrays the personality of someone who does not get easily intimidated with certain challenges that people face in life, thus, she seems to be a fighter regardless of the hardships they face. Alexandra appears to have taken interest on the weather trend within the region in order for her to foresee some of the possibilities relating to the weather pattern within the location. This is the most significant possibility that had influence on her re-investment on the pieces of land as an alternative to purchasing them at a very low price. The author manages to bring out the personality that relates to depression. One can argue the fact that Alexandra projects a psychologically muscular reaction concerning family along with responsibility.
Another important factor that the Freudian theory examines is the composure of the intelligence. With this factor, the Freud manages to point out that the human brain is in two groupings, namely conscious with unconscious. The conscious part of the brains dwells its attention on numerous activities that someone would be sentient. Alternatively, the unconscious segment of the mind relates to actions that a person is uninformed. These are significant aspects in acknowledging the mind symphony of the character(Smith 49 ). It is clear that the mind operations by Alexandra has both compositions working effectively. She has goals that she personally did not have a clue of the repercussions. Putting these factors into consideration clearly clarifies that it is difficult to Alexandra’s individuality. One can conclude that she is a risk taker in that the results are not threat to her.
The resolute mind possessed by Alexanddra is detectable in the way that she treats the other people around her. The author shows Alexandra’s resolute mind by describing her attitude towards individuals who seem to have a negative effect on her life. The stubbornness of an individual may also depend on the power that an individual have. When Lou and Oscar try to verify their stand about Carl asserts, “Well, suppose I want to take care of him? Whose business is it but my own?” (Cather 92). The conversation confirms that that Alexandra has an influence on the thinking of her brothers meaning the controlled most of their actions. The brothers considered the presence of Carl as a threat to their wellbeing when considering that they are now occupying similar position of being Alexandra suitors. It is clear that Alexandra wants to associate him with preserving the family land. She considers that the preservation of the land acts as a factor for the survival of her family. It is this burning desire about the family that makes Alexandra to actively involved in protecting the family’s estates; consequently, enabling her to make drastic changes in her life. Freud’s’ theory of discussion would be useful in studying the personality associated with Alexandra
Freud’s theory explains that the various psychosexual stages have a higher amount of influence in the development of the children. Every developmental stage becomes more important in affecting the degree of which an individual seeks for the pleasure seeking activities. The scholar also asserts that the completion of every developmental stage have a direct correlation to a healthy living. The completion of the stages without less problem shows that an individual will be having a healthy personality in the process of achieving adult-age(Tyson 10). Consequently, the analysis given by Freud theory is significant in understanding the exemplary character associated to Alexandra. The mature completion of Alexandra’s childhood is detectable when the father sought for a counsel from her a tender age. Another argument about Alexandra’s personality may also relate to the physical development when she was a young child. The parents provided enough protection to her childhood ensuring that she received proper intellectual development. Further, the information about Alexandra is important as it helps in exemplifying the trait of the character throughout her history. This is traceable in the story when the father begins to seek her counsel at a tender age. The information gives answers to the questions “why is the author so involved in the matter?” This means that the author would go for all the possible information about Alexandra to ensure her present an amazing description about her. Consequently, the concentration on the character makes her important as a tool for the author in transferring her message to the readers.
Understanding the character of Alexandra will also need the incorporation of the concept about defense mechanism provided by Freud. The defense mechanism helps in understanding the character trait of the individual in discussion. The author asserts that defense mechanism helps in covering wrong doings thereby contributing to its use by some individuals. Regarding this concept, individuals would end up rationalizing issues with the major aim of protecting their ego after making a mistake normally in their decision making process (Freud,Anna,67). Consequently, the use of defense mechanism is significant in studying the role of Alexandra in the story. As shown, Alexandra seems to possess a straightforward feeling when interacting with the people surrounding her. She does not hide anything amidst the talks without feeling shame. This shows that Alexandra has a personality of pure conscience that leads to making wise decision on the role delegated to her by the deceased father. Further, her relationship to other characters is also good thereby enabling her to develop a pure relationship with them.
According to the information drawn from the novel O Pioneers! Alexander is the heir to her father’s estate. This occurs despite the presence of numerous sons by John Bergon. This leads to the presentation of the heroine by Cather in the form of an individual possessing social, political, and economic power within the society. Women in the society faced limitation form the fact that they had no opportunity and right to vote thus minimal participation in the political sphere within the society. It is ideal to note that Alexandra becomes a landowner at the time when women faced such political limitations within the society.
The trust of her father pays off in the development of an astute and visionary businessperson through implementation of her daughter’s management skills and policies. This leads to the development of the land parcel of the daughter in comparison to the lagging development in the case of the land parcels by the sons. These developments illustrate and mirror description of Alexandra as a tall, strong girl by Cather in relation to her rapid and resolute walk with the knowledge of what to do in every situation. Alexandra is described as “a tall, strong girl, and she walked rapidly and resolutely, as if she knew exactly where she was going and what she was going to do next, [Cather 12]”. This is a reflection of her determination towards the achievement of her goals and objectives.
This description is essential in the understanding of the chief protagonist in the story thus enabling the author of the novel to develop effective and efficient characters in relation to the development of the plot. The combination of the character traits with references to Alexandra is essential in the illustration of the character as meaningful and justified to possess the traits as provided by the author. In the implementation of the Freud’s theory in the critical analysis of the event, the Cather presents Alexandra as exhibiting great traits of an individual with the opportunity to exercise political, social, and economic power in the creation of change within the society. This leads to the presentation of the women characters in the novel as empowered category endowed with great intellectual skills as evident in the management skills and policies of land with reference to the chief protagonist of the play.
In the process of preserving the family’s land, Alexandra is also critical in advising her brothers to adopt and implement effective and efficient techniques of farming with the aim of enhancing productivity levels. This is a reflection of mental energy in relation to the implementation of Freud’s theory. Alexandra does not bow to pressure against women owning land and participating in other activities as voting practices, but sees an opportunity in relation to maximization of the productivity of land resources. This leads to the implementation of accurate and effective land techniques thus quality management of land stress in the society.
This is an indication that the chief protagonist is a risk taker thus the ability to identify opportunities where male society members fear or lack the courage to exploit. In addition, it is vital to implement anticathexis theory in relation to understanding outstanding personality of Alexandra as the chief protagonist in the novel. Alexandra directs her libidinal strength towards a good course which is maximization of the productivity of land resources thus preservation and utilization of the family land. This is an indication of the execution of the essence of the cathexis theory thus encouraging her brothers to focus on the implementation of new techniques of farming.
On the other hand, It is also vital to evaluate the prosperity of Alexandra from the feminism perspective. In order to achieve this objective, it is ideal to note that the story of this novel is set at the end of 19th century. According to historical illustrations, men dominated the American West societies during this time of the development of the society. This indicates that women played minimal role towards the development of the society. Women focused on activities such as child rearing and taking care of the husband as well as household chores. Men had great power in the society since they were the sole decision makers and heads of their families. Critical issues such as land were under the influence of male superiority. The land in the story “wanted to be let alone, to preserve its own fierce strength, its peculiar, savage kind of beauty, its uninterrupted mournfulness” (Cather 16). The presentation of land to Alexandra by her father is an illustration of her exemplary traits. This is because of her empowerment to thrive in the essence of male superiority in the maximization of the available opportunities in the context of land resources. The story is a reflection of feminism movement towards empowerment through achievement of social, economic, and political power in the critical time of history.
The author adopts and implements feminist approach in the presentation of the chief protagonist as strong and brilliant whether mentally and physically. Despite various limitations hindering contribution and development of women in the society in American West of the 19th century, the heroine in this novel goes against the odds to preserve and enhance the production of the family land in the presence of her brothers and male counterparts in the community. In addition, there is also a demonstration of her brilliance in the management of land stress during the essence of drought and stress in comparison to tactics implemented by her brothers in the novel. According to the illustration by the Cather, Alexandra adopts and implements quality counsel in comparison to her brothers in the management of economic crisis and famine. This is an illustration of the empowerment and intellectual skills of women towards the achievement of their rights in the contribution to the development of the society. The superiority of Alexandra is evident throughout the novel due to tendency by her brother to ignore her plea and advise on the adoption of quality farming techniques claiming to be responsible for her progress and success. “Lou turned to Oscar. “That’s the woman of it; if she tells you to put in a crop, she thinks she’s put it in. It makes women conceited to meddle in business” (Cather 93-94).
Presentation of Lou and Oscar as underdogs in relation to the success of Alexandra makes it easier for the reader to note the essence of strength of women in the society with reference to the comparison of intellectual strength of men and women in the society. This is an indication that gender should not be a factor to consider in the determination of the level of intellectual skills and contribution towards the development of the society. Cather manages to present women as successful despite various limitations in the American West of 19th century following implications or influences of male prejudice and superiority on critical matters affecting the society. The chief protagonist (Alexandra) also has the ability to make valuable and sound decisions on critical issues better than men within the novel thus the ability to exploit or maximize the opportunities with the aim of achieving the desired outcome. This is a reflection of the development or rise of feminism in the society. Men view this as a threat to their dominance in critical aspects such as decision making. The chief protagonist has the ability to demonstrate her leadership skills in going against the odds and exploiting the piece of land through re-investing on the resource. The common view in relation to the matter would have been selling of the property because of limitations faced by women in the society. This is a critical representation of the capacity of women in the society for the purposes of maximization of the available opportunities towards the achievement of their rights and empowerment.
Another feminism approach would focus on the examination of the relationship between Alexandra and her father. The father plays a critical role in the achievement of the rights and empowerment of women in the society. This is because of the role played by Alexandra as a role model or mentor to other women in the society through empowerment received from her father in relation to the presentation of the land and management opportunities for the preservation and maximization of the productivity levels of the family land. In the empowerment of Alexandra, the father states to Oscar and Lou, “When you marry, and want a house of your own, the land will be divided fairly, according to the courts. But for the next few years you will have it hard, and you must all keep together, Alexandra will manage the best she can” (Cather 22). This is a reflection of the change in the society as women obtain much power to participate in the development of the society. Alexandra also notes that she has the opportunity to transfer her motherly nature to helping or loving other society members and brothers thus the tendency of helping them achieve their goals and objectives through implementation of quality pieces of advice. This empowerment is also critical in the determination of her relationship or marriage encounter with reference to interaction with Carl in the development of the plot of the novel. Despite the fact that she reveals her emotional side in the relationship encounter, marriage aspect does not force the chief protagonist to give up her dream in relation to the seat of power emanating from effective and efficient management of the estate.
On the other hand, the previous quotation can be read from differently. That is. A feminist psychoanalysis of Willa Cather places young Alexandra’s development squarely within the relationship between her and her father. Because her father empowered her, Alexandra is free from the psychic residue of patriarchy. Interestingly, her father’s dying wishes include references to Oscar and Lou getting married but not to Alexandra. Alexandra is assuming the role of the patriarch, which her father gives to her. Thus, he states to Oscar and Lou, “When you marry, and want a house of your own, the land will be divided fairly, according to the courts. But for the next few years you will have it hard, and you must all keep together. Alexandra will manage the best she can” (Cather 22). Oscar and Lou are feminized, viewed as being in need of the patriarchal institution of marriage; whereas Alexandra is the potent heir to the estate and not in need of external financial support.
Comparing Alexandra with another female character shows that she is liberated from the chains of gender role which helps her being successful. “There are always dreamers on the frontier” (Cather 301) Dreams feature prominently in Alexandra’s life. Besides the lofty dreams of the future, such as her father’s dream “ about making a great fortune and going back to Sweden to pay back to the poor sailors the money grandfather had lost” Cather 236). Alexandra’s nightly dreams can be analyzed using psychoanalysis. However, Alexandra’s dreams are rational compared with Marie’s. Marie is a counterpoint for Alexandra, because Marie comes across as being not in touch with reality. Alexandra’s dreams are solely her own: her desire to be in touch with the land, to cultivate it and create prosperity. She does not think in terms of providing for children, because she has none. Alexandra has liberated herself from the social, political, and economic institutions that constrained women’s lives in the era during which the story takes place.
Another essence of the determination of the triumph of Alexandra relates to the examination of the goals and objectives of Cather in the development of the plot and setting of the novel. The decision of Alexandra’s father to offer her piece of land and present her as the manager of the property in case of his death is an illustration of the main objective or purpose of this novel which represented by women capability to be decision makers in their societies.. This is an illustration of change in the society since women never had the right to participate in such activities in the 19th century. The change of role and expectations in the novel focuses on the presentation of the objective of the author towards enhancing interaction with the readers. This is a reflection of irony on the part of the father as he decides to offer the management opportunity to the oppressed in the society because of her intellectual skills and power rather than gender. The author focuses on the presentation of women as powerful through mental and intellectual gains as presented in the case of the chief protagonist.
It is critical to understand the perspective of Cather in the demonstration of the process towards the achievement of women and achievement of their rights thus going against male dominance in the society. The motive of re-investing in the piece of land is also a reflection of a critical message to the readers by the author of the novel. This is because of the opportunity to demonstrate the essence of intellectual skills of the oppressed society members as evident in the case of the chief protagonist. As the chief protagonist, Alexandra demonstrates her intellectual skills to focus on success both at individual and communal or collective gains.
The author of the novel also presents or demonstrates sexuality of the chief protagonist in a view of illustrating the goals and objectives to the readers. This is through direct subversion of the gender roles and social norms. In the first encounter, “Alexandra envisions herself “being lifted and carried lightly by someone very strong. He was with her a long while this time, and carried her very far, and in his arms she felt free from pain” (Cather 282). Alexandra focuses on subverting patriarchy in relation to putting off marriage thus not viewing herself in the context of the traditional woman in the 19th century. This makes her a true feminist who plays a critical role in the empowerment of the women in the society. She acts as a role model to women through demonstration of her private and public lives in the achievement of prominence. In the reverse presentation of the role, the novel notes that “His right arm, bared from the elbow, was dark and gleaming, like bronze, and she knew at once that it was the arm of the mightiest of all lovers” (Cather 283).
Cather’s novel O Pioneers! bridges the gap between gender and heroism. This Western American novel by Cather shows that women are able to do something important besides giving themselves to men, captures the essence of the heroic pioneer, the noble American spirit taming the West, in a female character. A love of the land is not a gender-specific quality attributed only to men; the land, Cather states, can be loved by anyone who dares to trust in it and to create it anew. As a hero of the West, Alexandra breaks the concept of the untamed West and the woman’s role in it. Traditionally, men were the ones “who forged ahead into the wilderness while the woman came up carrying tablecloths” (Thomas 62).
In the development of the plot, the author focuses on the demonstration that women and men have similar capacity and potentiality in the realization of the goals and objectives of the society when given similar opportunities. The opportunity to make decisions is an essential concept in the realization of the goals and potential of the society members. The case of Alexandra and the empowerment from her father is an illustration of the level and capacity of women to compete effectively and efficiently with men towards the development of the organization. It is critical for the transformation of the society to allocate roles and expectation on merit rather than gender. This is because of the demonstration of effective and efficient land management skills and policies by Alexandra for the purposes of maximizing the value and productivity of the land while preserving the family property. It is critical to note the prosperity of Alexandra against the odds in the achievement of her goals and objectives within the society despite being of the weakest gender in accordance with the traditional perspective of women in relation to the American West of the 19th century. From this evaluation, it is ideal to conclude that Willa Cather’s O Pioneers! confirms the fact that women are equal to men and if they are given the opportunity and the good supportive environment, they will be as successful as men and they will be able to make wise and crucial decisions.
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