According to Walter Pater, “literature is transcript, not of mere fact, but of fact in its infinitely varied forms.” Literature is said to be the writings which expresses the universal truths or the human expressions. Also, literature satires the condition of society through the characters of the works as well as it also gives values to the society. The word literature is derived from the Latin word called littera which means ‘a letter of the alphabet’. Literature is a mirror of society and life. It enables the people to see their own society through literature in form of poetry, novels articles and so on. Through the characters in the book, the author can bring out the condition of society sarcastically. And literature can also be considered as the “eye-opener”. Also, the literature has provided a gateway to teach the reader about life experiences and how a life would be through the works.
Korean literature is the literature in which the works are written in Korean language by the Korean authors. Initially, they used Classical Chinese for the writing purpose, then the various transcriptions system which uses the Chinese characters and finally in Hangul. Hangul is the national alphabet. Writing system came into existence in the mid of 15th century, when the national alphabet Hangul was invented, but it had its own language for several years. Until Hangul came into existence, literary activities were in Chinese characters. In the 4th century, Korean scholars were writing poetry in the traditional manner of Classical Chinese. A national academy was established shortly after the founding of the Unified Silla dynasty (668–935), and, from the time of the institution of civil service examinations in the mid of 10th century until their abolition in 1894 and later on every educated Korean read the Confucian Classics and Chinese histories and literature. The Korean upper classes used both the languages – Korean for speaking and Chinese for speaking.
In 7th century, a system named Idu was invented. This system paved the way for the Koreans to make rough transliterations of the Chinese texts. Eventually, certain Chinese characters were used to represent Korean particles of speech and inflectional endings. An extended system of transcription called Hyangch’al was invented, in which entire sentences in Korean can be written in Chinese. In another system, Kugy?l, an abridged version of Chinese characters were used to denote grammatical elements and were inserted into texts during transcription. Even after the invention of Hangul, more Korean literature was written in Chinese than in Korean language. Literature written in Korea falls into three categories they are (i) works written in the early transcription systems, (ii) those written in Hangul, and (iii) those written in Chinese.
The contemporary writers during the periods of Han Kang are: Jang Eun-jin, Hwang Jung-eun, Shin Kyung-sook and Oh Jung-hee.
Hwang Jung-eun is a South Korean writer and podcast celebrity. She was born at Seoul, South Korea in the year 1976. She started writing book collections after being selected in the Novel Field of 2005 Kyunghyang Sinmun Annual Spring Literary Contest. She has won Hanguk Ilbo Literature Award in 2010 and Shing Dong Yeob Literature Award for her novel Into the World of Passi in 2013. Hwang’s works have been translated into English by Asia Publisher as well as Tilted Axis Press, which was titled as Kong’s Garden in the year 2015 and One Hundred Shadows in the year 2016. Her Kong’s Garden is a glimpse of the post-modern world of the worker, in which the single female narrator remains unnamed, merely a worker. When the narrator realizes that she has a worker for all her life, she had no reaction beyond recognition of this fact and acceptance of it. One Hundred Shadows is a novel which is set in a slum electronics market in central Seoul. That place is known for its shiny skyscrapers and slick pop videos and also it is an area remarked for demolition in a city.
Jang Eun-Jin is a South Korean writer. Also she has won the awards such as The Chonnam Ilbo New Shortstory Award (2002), the Jooggang Daily New Writers Award (2004)and the 14th annual Munhakdongne Award (2009). She has published four novels and a collection of short stories. Her works include: Where is that Woman’s House, How Alice Lives, Kitchen Laboratories: Short Stories. And also, one of her works has been translated into English which was entitled as No One Writes Back. The Guardian reviewed her translated work as, “An extraordinary, rich and moving novel about a Youngman’s journey through South Korea with his dog.” No One Writes back is the story of a young man, dog and mp3player. Also this is about their three-year goal-less journey, and who they had met on the journey. The fellow travelers are anonymous, but the narrator writes letter to them by hoping that one day a letter will come back.
Shin Kyung-sook is a South Korean writer, who was born in the year 1963 at Southern South Korea. She is the first Korean and first woman who won the Man Asian literary Prize in 2012. Shin has won the awards such as the Munye Joongang New Author Prize, the Today’s Young Artist Award from the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Hankook Ilbo Literature Prize, Hyundae Literature Award, Manhae Literature Prize, Dong-in Literary Award, Yi Sang literary Award and the Oh Young-su Literature prize.Shin’s works include: I’ll Be Right There (2010), Please Look After Mom (2009), Yi Jin (2007), Violet (2001), The Train Departs at Seven (1999), A Lone Room (1995) and Deep Sorrow (1994). Please Look After Mom is the story of a missing mother and her family. The novel narrates about the mother’s life of self-sacrifice which was coincided with South Koreas dramatic shift from a pre-modern to a post-modern society. Deep Sorrow is her first novel. This says about the unrequited love between the three childhood friends named Eun-seo, Wan and Se. When these friends move on from their beautiful hometown to the cities, their hopes collide and made the friends to be apart. They were not able to share their love equally when they grew up and attained their adulthood.
Oh Jung-hee is a South Korean writer. She was born in the year Nov 1947 at Seoul. She has received the awards such as Yi Sang Literary Award for Evening Game in the year 1980 and Dong-in Literary Award for The Bronze Mirror in the year 1983. She has received these prestigious awards of Korea for her short fiction and also her works have been translated into many foreign countries such as Southeast Asia, Latin America and Europe. Her translated works include Chinatown, Wayfarer, The Release (in Chinatown), Spirit on the Wind, Bronze Mirror, The Bird’, River of Fire was translated by Bruce Fulton and Ju-Chan Fulton. Wayfarer is the story about the woman who has been abandoned by her family and society. The Release is the story of a mother and daughter, who were united by a shared but separate tragedy. The Bronze Mirror is the story of an elderly couple who lives with the memory of their son. Their son was killed twenty years ago in the student revolution in the year April 1960. The Bird is a story of two siblings, a brother and sister. This story takes place in the mid of 1990s in a economic slump. The girl and the boy were abandoned by their abusive father but they were adopted by some neighbors but soon a downward twist happens.
Han Kang is a South Korean writer. She was born in Gwangju in South Korea. Han Kang is the daughter of the novelist Han Seung-won, and sister of Han Dong Rim, who is also a writer. Han Kang is the wife of Hong Yong-hee, an award winning literary critic. At the age of ten they moved to Suyuri in Seoul, often Han Kang speaks affectionately about the Greek Lessons in her novel. She has done her degree course at Yonsei University in Korean Literature. In 1998, Han participated in a program at the University of Iowa for International Writing Program. Han was teaching creative writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts as well as she was penning stories and novels. Han is a musician and also she is interested in art and her work reflects this talents. Your Cold Hand (2002) is the novel which revolves around the story of a sculptor and his model. When she published an essay book Quietly sung songs (2007). Also she has released a CD with ten songs which she composed herself, wrote lyrics and recorded. In the initial stage, Kang was not intended to sing, but Han Jung Rim, a musician and music director, forced Han to record the songs herself.
Han’s literary career began when she has published five poems in the winter issue of “Literature and Society” in 1993. Her career in fiction began in the following year when her work Red Anchor won the Seoul Shinmun Spring Literary Contest. Han’s debut work, A Convict’s Love, was published in 1995 and which attracted the reader attention because it was precisely and tightly narrated. Han wrote The Vegetarian, and its sister-work, Mongolian Mark by hand because over use of the computer keyboard had damaged her wrist. It has been reported that in her college years Kang became obsessed with a line of poetry from Yi Sang: “I believe that humans should be plants.” and that Kang interpreted this to be a defensive stance against the violence of the colonial period and took this as an inspiration to write her most successful work, The Vegetarian. Her first collection Love of Yeosu was published in 1995. Her Korean works include Fruits of My Woman (2000) and the novels include The Black Deer (1998), Your Cold Hand (2002), The Vegetarian (2007), Breath Fighting (2010), and Greek Lessons (2011).
Han Kang began her writing career with the poems which was published in the winter issue of the quarterly Literature and Society. She made her official literary debut in the following year, when her short story The Scarlet Anchor has won the Seoul Shinmun spring literary contest. According to Deborah Levy, Han Kang has the written the novels in cool, still, poetic but matter-of-fact short sentences. After that, she has won many literary awards such as: Yi Sang Literary Prize in 2005, Today’s Young Artist Award, and the Korean Literature Novel Award. In 1999, she has won the 25th Korean Novel Award for her novella Baby Buddha, Today’s Young Artist Award in the year 2000, Yi-Sang Literary Award in the year 2005 for her novella Mongolian Mark, and Dong-ni Literary Award in the year 2010 for the novel Breath Fighting. She has won the Man Booker International Prize for fiction in 2016 for the novel The Vegetarian, a novel which deals with a woman’s decision to stop eating meat and its devastating consequences. This was the first novel which was translated into English. The translated work won the Man Booker International Prize 2016 for both Han Kang and Deborah Smith. She is the first Korean to be nominated for this award. The work was also chosen as one of “The 10 Best Books of 2016” from New York Times Book Review. Han has been chosen for the Malaparte Prize in Italy in the year 2017 for the Italian Translation of Human Acts named Atti Umani.
Baby Buddha and The Vegetarian have been made into films. The Vegetarian was made into a movie that was one of only 14 selections (out of 1,022 submissions) for inclusion in the World Narrative Competition of the prestigious North American Film Fest. The film was also a critical success at the Busan International Film Festival.
Mongolian Mark won the Yi Sang Literary Award. The rest of the series (The Vegetarian and Fire Tree) were delayed by contractual problems. Han was the youngest to receive Yi Sang Literary Award until 2013 when Kim Aeran received it at the age of 32. Her Human Acts was released in January 2016 from Portobello Books. Han has been chosen to win the Malaparte Prize 2017 for the Italian translation of Human Acts, Atti Umani from Adelphi Edizioni 2017 in Italy on 1 October 2017.
She has won the awards such as Hankook Ilbo Excellent Writer’s Award (1995), Korean Fiction Award (1999), Ministry of Culture and Tourism Today’s Young Artist Award – Literature Section (2000), Yi Sang Literary Award Grand Prize (2005), Dong-ni Literary Award (2010), Manhae Literary Award (2014), Hwang Sun-won Literary Award (2015), Man Booker International Prize (2016), Malaparte Prize (2017).
Han Kang’s few works have been translated into English and they are: Convalescence by ASIA Publishers in the year 2013, The Vegetarian: A Novel by Portobello Books in the year 2015, Human Acts by Portobello Books in the year 2016, The White Book by Portobello Books in the year 2017. Some of the works have been translated into Non-English too, they are: A Vegetariana by Dom Quixote in the year 2016, Atti umani by Adelphi in the year 2017, Wit was translated by Nijgh ; Van Ditmar in the year2017 and Leçons de grec is by Le Serpent à Plumes in the year 2017.
The novel Black Deer was published in the year 1998. The novel is about the woman who moves along the streets of the city nakedly in the morning. She ran nakedly because she was suffering from memory loss. Your Cold Hand is a novel which says about the story of a sculptor and his model. It was published in the year 2002. The novel Human Acts was translated into English in the year 2016. It says about the massacre which happened in the year 1980 in Gwangju. It was the massacre of protestors who protested in the Gwangju Democratic Uprising. The final chapters of this novel deal with Han Kang’s own experience on the uprising.
Fruits of My Woman is a novel which was published in the year 2000. The main characters of this novel are a man and woman. One day when the man returned home, he saw that his wife has transformed into a plant. Then he moved her into a pot and started to water her daily and took care of her. The seasons changed and the woman began to spit out the seed which was inside her. He took the seeds to the balcony; and he wondered whether his wife will be able to bloom again in spring.
The Vegetarian is a novel which was originally published in Korea in the year 2007 and it was translated to English by Deborah Smith in the year 2015. This book was awarded with the Man Booker International Prize for fiction in 2016. The novel was set in Seoul. It tells the story of Yeong-hye, a home-maker, who decides to stop, eating meat after a dream which she, dreamt. And the novel moves on with the after effects of her decision and how it affected her family life. This novel is a three part novella, which was narrated by Mr Cheong, her brother-in-law and In-hye, her sister.
Deborah Smith (born 15 December 1987) is a British translator of Korean fiction. She was born in 15th December 1987. She has completed her BA in English Literature from the University of Cambridge with first class in the year 2009. Later on, she came to SOAS (University of London) to do her MA in Korean studies. While she was doing MA she became interested in Korean Literature and also in translation. Now she is a researcher in The University of London (SOAS). For the first time, she translated a Korean novel The Vegetarian by the Korean author Han Kang in 2015. Han Kang and Deborah Smith were the co winners of the Man Booker International Prize for fiction in 2016. Her translated works include: Han Kang’s The Vegetarian (2015), Ahn Do-Hyun’s The Salmon Who Dared To Leap Higher (2015), Han Kang’s Human Acts (2016), Bae Suah’s A Greater Music (2016), Bandi’s The Accusation (2017), Bae Suah’s Recitation (2017), Bae Suah’s North Station (2017), Han Kang’s The White Book (2017).
The research consists of four chapters. Chapter 1 entitled ‘Introduction’ deals with the introduction to the thesis. It deals with the introduction of Literature, Korean Literature, contemporary authors of Han Kang, and other works of Han Kang. Chapter 2 entitled ‘Patriarchy’ presents the elements of patriarchy in the novel The vegetarian. Also, this chapter gives a brief definition on patriarchy, etymological usage and the patriarchy in Korean Society. Also this chapter brings out the ideas of family and lack og identity through the characters. Chapter 3 entitled ‘Feminism’, deals through the feministic point of view. This chapter is reviewed through the “Anarcha – Feminism” and also it says about the sufferings of women in the patriarchal society by examining the character of Yeong-hye. Chapter 4 entitled ‘Summation’ deals with the solution to the problems which the researcher has found out in the research.
The methodology used in the preparation of this dissertation is in accordance with the instructions given in the MLA Handbook for writers of Research Paper (Seventh Edition).
Patriarchy requires violence or the subliminal threat of violence in order to maintain itself… The most dangerous situation for a woman is not an unknown man in the street, or even the enemy in wartime, but a husband or lover in the isolation of their home.
Patriarchy is defined as the society in which the head of the family or men uses power over women for the advantage of men. Patriarchy is defined as “a system of social structures, and practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women” (Walby 214). Also the word ‘patriarchy’ refers to autocratic rule by the male head of the family. Patriarchy literally means “the rule of the father”. The word ‘Patriarchy’ is derived from the Greek word ?????????? (patriarkh?s), which means “father of a race” or “chief of a race, patriarch”. This word is the compound of the words ????? (pat?r) which means “father” and ???? (arkh?) which means “I rule”. Allan Johnson, an American sociologist mentions the male-centered, male-identified, male-dominated social structure as “patriarchy” and also he identifies the fear as the major motivating force for a patriarch. According to Linda Napikoski, “A patriarchal society consists of male-dominated power structure throughout organized society and in individual relationships”. Patriarchal society is also defined as the system in which men shows power on women in all the aspects of society. Patriarchal heterosexuality is “male-dominated, male-identified, and male-centered,” and it illustrates and teaches general patriarchal principles. Patriarchal Society consists of the features such as Male Dominance, Male Identification, Oppression and Obsession with control. Allan Johnson also says that domination and control are the major characteristics of patriarchy. In The Vegetarian by Han Kang, the patriarchal elements can be seen through the characters namely Yeong-hye’s father, Mr. Cheong, Yeong-hye’s husband and Yeong-hye’s brother-in-law.
In Korean Society, patriarchy is considered to be the family culture. The modern Korean culture came into existence by undergoing through many of the transformations in the ancient culture during the industrialization. Transformation in the culture is said to be the change in the way of living. The change in social values brought out the changes in the traditional family structure. In the nuclear family as well as in the joint family, father is considered to be the patriarch and the others members of the family are considered to be the subordinates. Other family members including mother, son and daughter have to obey what patriarch orders and what he says. They do not have any freedom to take any decisions of their own.
In Korean Culture, the people and members of the society are determined through their age, sex, roles and status in the society. There are certain spaces which have to be maintained in the Korean patriarchal society. In the traditional Korean society, there are separate rooms for the husbands and wives. The rooms for husbands are called Sarangbang and the rooms for the wives are called anbang. Sarangbang is the place where the patriarch and the other male members of the family dwell. After few years, joint family was transformed into nuclear family and the traditional customs changed. When the customs started to change, couples started to live in anbang, the son used the room near to that of entrance and the daughter used the room which is adjacent to kitchen. In rural areas, if the family is eating on the rectangular tables then the patriarch and the son sits on the longer sides and the mother and the daughter occupies the seat on the shorter sides. And also, even the bowls they eat is different. Females are allowed to eat in the bowls which is less price and quality than that of males’ bowls.
In The Vegetarian, Han Kang has brought out the ideas of Korean patriarchal society through the character of patriarchal father. The central character of this novel is Yeong-hye, who was married to Mr Cheong. She was working as an assistant instructor at the Computer graphics college. The novel is divided into three parts: first part is narrated by her husband, Mr Cheong, second part is narrated by her brother-in-law and third part is narrated by In-hye, Yeong-hye’s elder sister. Yeong-hye is one of the victims of the patriarchal Korean society. She saw a dream one night and after that she took a decision to not to eat non-vegetarian thereafter. But according to the Korean Food Culture, Non-Vegetarian such as Chicken and Pork play an important role in their food culture. Meanwhile, Mr Cheong has a party at a restaurant which was hosted by his Boss and he was asked to take his wife with him. While everyone was conversing at the party, food varieties for the night were served by the waiter. When waiter was about to serve in her plate, she said that “I don’t eat meat” (22). When she stated this, everyone looked at her as if she has done a huge mistake.
The father controls the family members and he is the one who holds the authority too. When the father shows the authority towards the subordinates, they are forced to obey him. Therefore, except the patriarch all others reject the patriarch and the patriarchal system in the family and society. There was a get together in Yeong-hye’s house at Seoul. On that day, her patriarchal father came to know about his daughter’s decision to not to eat non-vegetarian. They sat to eat according to their custom, her mother served her non-vegetarian dishes, which were her favorites during her childhood days. But she refused to eat and her father forced her to eat by threatening her that “Don’t you understand what your father’s telling you? If he tells you to eat, you eat!” (38). Again she refused to eat even though she knows her father’s character. Then Mr Cheong narrates what has happened afterwards:
“My father-in-law took up a pair of chopsticks. He used them to pick up a piece of sweet and sour pork and stood tall in front of my wife, who turned away. . . . ‘Eat it! Listen to what your father’s telling you and eat. Everything I say is for your own good. So why act like this if it makes you ill?'”. (38).
In Korean society, not eating meat is equal to a mistake which cannot be forgiven. While dining together in a table, if a vegetarian get along with the non-vegetarians to eat food, others will avoid vegetarian because they look it as a great sin. When untouchability existed once in India, the upper caste people will not to speak with the lower caste people. Likewise, in Korea non-vegetarians do not sit along with the vegetarians to dine together. Even though, there are vegetarians in Korea. But they have turned into vegetarians because of some reasonable reasons and when they heard Yeong-hye’s reason, they were not able to accept that. When Yeong-hye said her decision one of the ladies among them commented that,
“Well, I must say, I’m glad I’ve still never sat down with a proper vegetarian. I’d hate to share a meal with someone who considers eating meal repulsive, just because that’s how they themselves personally feel . . . don’t you agree?” (24).
The patriarch/father has the characteristic features such as “stubborn”, “inflexible”, and “self-righteous”. Likewise, Yeong-hye’s father is called as “…the voice of man with strongly fixed ideas” (29). According to Yeong-hye, her father has whipped her over the calves until she was eighteen years old. From this one can understand how cruel and rude her father was. Also, after Yeong-hye was admitted in the hospital he never came to see his daughter and from this one can understand how arrogant her father was. Her father was an ex-military man. Even her mother fears to talk with him and no one are dared to talk to him, and also he was a cruel man without a kind heart. When Yeong-hye was nine years old she was bitten by a dog, her father done the biggest cruelty to the dog by killing it inch-by-inch.
While father ties the dog to the tree and scorches it with a lamp, he says it isn’t to be flogged. . . . The motorcycle engine starts, and Father begins to drive in a circle. The dog runs along behind. Two laps, three laps, they circle round. Without moving a muscle I stand just inside the gate watching Whitey, eyes rolling and gasping for breath, gradually exhaust himself. . . . Once it has gone five laps, the dog is frothing at the mouth. Blood drips from its throat, which is being choked with the rope . . . At six laps, the dog vomits blackish-red blood, trickling from its mouth and open throat. . . . Seven laps . . . the dog’s four juddering legs, its raised eyelids, the blood and water in its dead eyes. (41-42).
In a child’s mind, father’s image will be that of fear-inspiring figure and mother’s image will be of loving and caring figure. The image of father in the minds of children has not changed yet and the image of the father is still a fear-inspiring figure for the children, because he does not show his love towards his children even though he has in his heart. He also wanted the children to obey whatever he says and whatever he wishes. He expects everyone to accept and follow his opinions and decisions. Even then, father is considered to be the pillar of the family and all-in-all of the family. During the get together, she refused to eat meat several times. Mr Cheong describes following incident.
“Having thrown down the chopsticks, he now picked up a piece of pork with his fingers and approached my wife. She was hesitantly backing away when her brother seized her and sat her down. . . . but he shook her off and thrust the pork at my wife’s lips. A moaning sound came from her tightly closed mouth”. (39).
Patriarchy is not only the male domination over the women but also the domination over the younger men of the family or the younger men in the society. Normally, father is considered to be the patriarch of the family because always he tries to control the family using harsh and rough words. Yeong-hye’s father is also a same kind of person, who never minds how it hurts to the listener whatever he says. When Yeong-hye refused to eat her favorite dish for the fifth or sixth time, “My father-in-law mashed the pork to a pulp on my wife’s lips as she struggled in agony. Though he parted her lips with his strong fingers, he could do nothing about her clenched teeth (40).”
M Mukundan’s Mayyazhippuzhayude Theerangalil brings out the idea of male domination through another incident. The main character of the novel is Dasan and Chandrika. They both fallen in love and when it was the time for the marriage of Chandrika, she was forced to marry another boy, whom was a complete stranger for her. In that society, the girl does not even have the freedom or right to choose her life partner. When her father dominated her and forced her to marry another boy, she committed suicide. The patriarchal society should understand the rights of a female and her emotions. Because of this male domination and patriarchism lot of females have committed suicide and many things have happened in the society too.
Patriarchy is a system in which domination are shown through the violence and the threat of violence. It is a system in which male is powerfully dominates the children, women, and other men in the household and also controls them and shows authority over them. Men forces the women to do certain things even if she is interested or not and he forces her to do the same for his self-satisfaction. In The Vegetarian, Yeong-hye was forced to eat meat even after her firm decision. If it was a decision taken by men, then they would not have compelled him and the reason for the decision will be accepted. According to Allan Johnson:
Patriarchy encourages men to seek security, status, and other rewards through control; to fear other men’s ability to control and harm them; and to identify being in control as both their best defense against loss and humiliation and the surest route to what they need and desire. In this sense, although we usually think of patriarchy in terms of women and men, it is more about what goes on among men. The oppression of women is certainly an important part of patriarchy, but, paradoxically, it may not be the point of patriarchy. (50).
Male domination or patriarchy is not only limited to that of wives and daughters but also it extends to the other members of the family also. In traditional patriarchy, the elder men in the family have also the power over the younger men in the family. In the novel The Vegetarian Yeong-hye’s father is the patriarch. He is the man who received the Order of Military Merit while serving in Vietnam. Yeong-hye, Mr Cheong, Yeong-hye’s mother, In-hye, In-hye’s husband, Yeong-ho and his wife are considered to be the subordinates of the family. During the get together in Yeong-hye’s house, Yeong-hye rejected to eat meat as she had stopped eating meat due to a dream. As her father was the patriarch he forced her to eat and when she refused to eat, he called out Mr Cheong and Yeong-ho and told “Grab her arms, quickly. You too, Mr Cheong” (39). Without uttering a word in reply to him they grabbed her arms in order to make her to eat meat. Traditional patriarchy can be witnessed in this incident.
Also, Yeong-ho, her brother also pleads her sister for eating meat as he fears his father will do something bad if someone does not obey him. He says, “Sister, would you please just eat? Or after all, it would be simple enough just to pretend. Do you have to make such a thing about it in front of Father?” (39). He is also a man, but he is also over powered by his father. In this section, the traditional patriarchy is clearly visible. In-hye is also the sister of Yeong-hye and Yeong-ho. She is also fears to talk back to her father. And also, she does not talk back to her husband too.
Zillah R. Eisenstein in her work Capitalist patriarchy and the case for socialist feminism gives the idea of patriarchy as, a “sexual system of power in which the male possesses superior power and economic privilege” (Eisenstein 17). In the family and society of not only Korea but each and every corner of the world, this kind of patriarchism can also been seen. It is the system of practice in which male dominates women for the domination and for the self satisfaction of his desire on women. In The Vegetarian, the superior power of male over the women for sexual system is witnessed through the character Yeong-hye’s brother-in-law.
After Yeong-hye’s decision to stop eating meat, her family life was totally upside down. As she was living a lonely life, In-hye insists her husband to visit Yeong-hye often. During those days, In-hye’s husband came to know about the Mongolian mark which was in the buttocks of Yeong-hye. When he came to knew about that, he started imagine about the men and women with the flower painting and having sex. And he came to the conclusion that, Yeong-hye, his sister-in-law is apt for the shooting. “Though her face was missing, the woman in his sketch was undoubtedly his sister-in-law. No, it had to be her. He’d imagined what her naked body must look like and began to draw” (59). In this novel, In-hye’s husband sexually abuses his own sister-in-law by unconsciously forcing to fulfill his desire. As he was a man, he had the complete control and power over the female’s sexuality and made his dream come true without even thinking whom he is spoiling for his dream.
According to Carol P Christ,
Patriarchy is a system of male dominance, rooted in the ethos of war which legitimates violence, sanctified by religious symbols, in which men dominate women through the control of female sexuality, with the intent of passing property to male heirs, and in which men who are heroes of war are told to kill men, and are permitted to rape women, to seize land and treasures, to exploit resources, and to own or otherwise dominate conquered people.
Patriarchal culture is deeply misogynistic and it gives value to masculinity. In such a culture, women have been picturized as a human with less value and worthy. Women and men are different in the case of the patriarchal culture .Aggression against women is justified by women’s choices and natures. Women play a number of important roles in the patriarchal culture and those roles differs with the race, class, and other “differences.” In patriarchy, women are expected to take care of the patriarch and other family members. ‘Women’ and ‘femininity’ are the words which are used to define men and masculinity. Also men can be defined or phrased as masculine, independent, invulnerable, tough, strong, aggressive, powerful, commanding, in control, rational, and non-emotional. But the women can be defined or phrased as dependent, vulnerable, pliant, weak, supportive, nurturing, intuitive, emotional, and empathic. However, the patriarchal expectation that “real men” is autonomous and independent.
Most of the men in the society are on the patriarchal hierarchy which consists of control and power. In the novel The Vegetarian, Yeong-hye’s father is considered to be “the Vietnam War hero” (66) and “patriarchal man” (29). Whenever the man in the house faces a failure then women are also expected to accept the blame and share men’s disappointment, pain, and rage. But when the women faces a problem, pain or disappointment men will not even console or seek what the problem is. In a woman’s eyes, men are picturized as: independent, autonomous, strong, and successful, by the society. From the childhood itself the family and society will teach her that those males are strongest person who will be able to take care of them in the society.
According to men, women are the world of emotions whether it is happy or sad. But they will not have the right to express their emotion to anyone. Women do not have the freedom to express what she feels, what she likes or what she dislikes. In the novel Surfacing by Margaret Atwood, Atwood brings out these ideas through the characters namely David and Anna. David and Anna are husband and wife and he is a womanizer too. David wanted his wife to be in makeup for all the time. But Anna is a person who does not like to put make up at all. In order to please her husband and to seek his attention and love on her she applies make up. She does that for her husband. As Anna is a female she is not able to resists him. And she is forced to do so, in order to fulfill his desire and there is no value for the female’s decision nod desires.
Every time men look towards women as the way to relieve their sense of emptiness, meaninglessness, and disconnection. Men often envy and resent women’s ability to deal with emotions. When women are unable to provide the emotional satisfaction to the partner, men often blames the women for being not “loving or sexual enough.” In patriarchy, men are sexual subjects and women objects: women’s sexuality exists to please men.
In a patriarchal society, the women are oppressed normally. But a man will not be treated differently or he will not be oppressed because it is believed that he belongs to the strongest group. And this strongest group cannot be oppressed by anyone. But the younger generations of men will be oppressed by the older man. Mary Becker in her article named Patriarchy and Inequality: Towards a Substantive Feminism says that “Feminine and gay men are routinely oppressed as such, as are African-American, Latino, and Asian-American men. And individual men are hurt by patriarchy, as noted in the preceding paragraph. But patriarchy does not oppress men as men” (Becker 30).
A group can “inflict injury on itself, and its members can suffer from their position in society” (Becker 30). Oppression is referred as the group-based social inequality, so the dominant group cannot oppress the members of the same culture as they belong to one group. As Allan Johnson says, “oppression is a relation that exists between groups, not between groups and society as a whole” (23). War glorifies the patriarchy and supports the ability of men to dominate others to oppress others. But many of the men are oppressed by the men as the former are the members from low races and classes. Even though the war supports the patriarchy, the division in races and classes makes the dominations over the same group.
The chapter has dealt with the theme ‘patriarchy’. Patriarch of the family and the society should realize the importance of women and the effects of male domination. Whenever the father shows negative attitude, he is losing his children’s trust on him and the bond of love between them. The head of the family should give the equal importance to his wife and he should think that she also has the emotions and desires as he has.