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The Female Stereotype
Stereotypes have been a part of society for a very long time and are still present today. Both Svava Jakobsdottir s "A Story for Children" and Alice Munro s "The Office" share a common stereotype regarding the female gender. The female stereotype is the most concrete of all stereotypes which explains why both short stories possess a very similar nature for a typical woman. This stereotypical female is expected to have a delicate character, to take care of the house work and the children, to have no personal identity, and to be relatively simple and inferior in comparison to men.

The first aspect of the female stereotype found in the stories as well as reality is the female character. Women are generally seen as fragile individuals. Society believes that a woman has no self-confidence and needs support from some external element. This characteristic is found in "A Story for Children" where the mother has to go to a magazine to "[seek] courage and conformation that she was on the right track in life" (Jakobsdottir 527).

In "The Office," the women s fragile character is suggested by Mr. Malley. He says that he is happy that his wife didn t see the obscene comments that were written in the washroom because it "upsets a woman that s had a nice bringing up" (Munro 922). Since Mr. Malley is a man, the filthy language didn t upset him but it would certainly upset the fragile character of a woman. Mr. Malley touches the stereotype of the delicate women once more when he says that the plain and empty office is not comfortable for a woman. He suggests ways in which the office could become more comfortable for the narrator since "a women wants things a bit cosier" (Munro 918).

Another stereotype concerning women is that they are responsible for taking care of the house and chores that come with it. In Jakobsdottir s story, the mother is portrayed as being "true to her nature and devote all her energies to her home and her children" (Jakobsdottir 526). Women (in this case mothers/wives) are expected to only focus on responsibilities related to the house and nothing else. They are responsible for feeding the whole family. Wives and mothers not only have to make sure that the children and husband receive their meal, but the family pets also. In "A Story for Children," mama has the responsibility of "preparing supper" because the "children might suffer psychological harm from not getting supper on time" ( Jacobsdottir 526,527). In "The Office," the narrator talks about how men are not expected to feed the pets; it is the woman s duty to "feed the cat" (Munro 916).

Once again, the bond between women and house chores is displayed, but this time in "The Office." Munro places a scene in the story where a "woman came out of one of the empty offices, dragging a vacuum cleaner" (Munro 917). This small event shows a great stereotype that women are responsible for house chores since vacuum cleaners are associated with cleaning, which is a duty around the house.

The stereotypical woman is also expected to take care of the children. In "A Story for Children," mama is " swamped with work caring for the children" (Jakobsdottir 528). No matter how busy a woman is, the children are her responsibility. The stereotype consists of the mother having no life of her own, but involves the woman living her life through the life of the children. It is clearly said in "The Office" that a woman "staring into space, into a country that is not her husband s or her children s is likely known to be an offense against nature" (Munro 916). Therefore, women are predisposed to focus totally on their children and forget about their own life.

The concept of women s responsibility of taking care of the children is even touched at an indirect level. This relationship is accomplished when Mr. Malley gives the narrator a plant. He thinks she...
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The Female Stereotype. EssayMania.com. Retrieved on 12 Oct, 2010 from