I recently had a conversation with Julie over at the fbomb. It got me thinking about feminism in my writing and what that has meant to me.
It surprised me when Julie mentioned that there were feminist themes in Shakespeare’s Lady. I never explicitly set out to write a feminist novel, but I can see now how there is an underlying themes of feminism in how women were treated during Shakespeare’s time. They were bartered and sold—used as pawns for alliances between countries.
I recently read Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, and I loved the parallels the author drew between different works of literature and the world she was living in. One of the amazing things about great literature is that it makes us examine our world in a new way, and I loved the fact that works by Henry James and Jane Austen made the young women in Reading Lolita think about social justice and religion.
While writing Shakespeare’s Lady, I was completely aware that women had very little say in their future. They could not choose who they were going to marry or hold any kind of power—with the exceptional case of an exceptional lady, Queen Elizabeth.
While I didn’t set out to make these issues obviously apparent, I am glad that they are recognizable in the novel. I am also pleased readers have pointed it out to me. As a writer, you sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture. As you think over which fabric your protagonist’s dress should be made of, or the steps to an Elizabethan dance, you can easily forget the larger issues.
What do you think? Do you think many writers make points subconsciously? Or do you think most set out to make these issues apparent?