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Universum
01-23-2012, 02:10 PM
Ok. I am soon enough going to write my c-essay on english literature. I've decided to go for Wheel of Time from a gender perspective. I believe that, in Wheel of Time, women are pretty much born strong - they don't have to fight for it like i.e. Ewyn in LotR or Daenerys in ASoIaF. So, this is going to kind of sort of be my main theme (I'm still very much in the process of brain storming etc.).

As my teacher hasn't read the WOT series, and since he has more students and other classes, it would be a bit unreasonable to demand that he reads them all, and he has asked me to recommend 2-3 books that would be of more relevance than the others (meaning, the books that I would probably use the most myself).

I can't for the life of me pick out 2-3 books for him to read. I need your help. Out of a gender perspective, mostly showing strong women, which ones would it be?

I believe that The Eye of the World should be one of them, simply because I think that it would be easier to grasp the world we're in if you read the introduction (duh..). But then again, it might be a waste of time because there are other books that might be more relevant.. Argh! I'm going mad here! Help me! :/

Seeker
01-23-2012, 02:20 PM
The Gathering Storm is probably your best bet; this is the book where Egwene and Nynaeve are at their finest. They pretty much carry that story.

Next in line would be The Shadow Rising and the intro to the Aiel.

Universum
01-23-2012, 02:26 PM
Next in line would be The Shadow Rising and the intro to the Aiel.

I'm not entirely sure of what happens in which book, as I've mainly read them in Swedish (re-reading them in English now, though), and 1 english book is 2 swedish books. So, now that this was cleared out, is this the first time that we meet them (as in people were attacked by them, I'm thinking about Gaul in the cage etc..), or is it when we get to the Aiel Waste and see how they live etc? Get introduced to their culture.. Because I think that the culture might be a better go than meeting Gaul in a cage, if you catch my drift. ^^

Terez
01-23-2012, 02:34 PM
New Spring, TEOTW and TGH. Simple enough.

Seeker
01-23-2012, 02:35 PM
Something you may want to consider for your thesis, what exactly does it mean to be born strong? Strength - at least the kind that you appear to be talking about - is measured by the decisions one makes, how well one deals with problems, whether one finds a solution or folds and so forth. To that extent to be "born strong" is a contradiction in terms because a newborn has not made any decisions or faced any problems yet.

Strength is only valued in contrast to weakness so if you're going to argue that every woman in WOT has innate strength at the moment of brith, then you're saying they're all strong. Which means none of them are.

Or more precisely, it means that the concept of strength is irrelevant because everyone is at the same point on the scale. It's like if everything in existence was exactly the same size then words like "big" and "small" would not exist in our lexicon.

To say that a single woman is born strong - born with innate strength - is one thing; to say that all of them are invalidates the concept.

Also, how can you call it strength if they "don't have to work for it.".

Universum
01-23-2012, 02:44 PM
Something you may want to consider for your thesis, what exactly does it mean to be born strong? Strength - at least the kind that you appear to be talking about - is measured by the decisions one makes, how well one deals with problems, whether one finds a solution or folds and so forth. To that extent to be "born strong" is a contradiction in terms because a newborn has not made any decisions or faced any problems yet.

Strength is only valued in contrast to weakness so if you're going to argue that every woman in WOT has innate strength at the moment of brith, then you're saying they're all strong. Which means none of them are.

Or more precisely, it means that the concept of strength is irrelevant because everyone is at the same point on the scale. It's like if everything in existence was exactly the same size then words like "big" and "small" would not exist in our lexicon.

To say that a single woman is born strong - born with innate strength - is one thing; to say that all of them are invalidates the concept.

Also, how can you call it strength if they "don't have to work for it.".

I am intending to compare them with women of other fantasy novels (like Eowyn and Daenerys, that I mentioned in my original post, that really have to fight for their position in society), and it is in that comparison that they are born strong. Compared to each other, you are right in the idea that if they are all strong -> no one is strong. The women of WoT are not automatically worse of in society because they are women. A successful woman is nothing unusual etc. It is mostly in comparison with women from other books..

Tomp
01-23-2012, 02:46 PM
New Spring, TEOTW and TGH. Simple enough.

I totally agree.

The order if I could decide would probably be TEOTW, TGH, NS.

The effect of Moiaine and Siuan is less strong if you just read them as stumbling novices.
There are some stuff about Moiraine and Siuan that's revealed in NS that diminishes the surprise of things in TGH.

Your teacher may not be aware of the book sizes. If you are restricted to 2 books then scrap NS and go with the first 2 of the series.

Universum
01-23-2012, 02:50 PM
I totally agree.

The order if I could decide would probably be TEOTW, TGH, NS.

The effect of Moiaine and Siuan is less strong if you just read them as stumbling novices.
There are some stuff about Moiraine and Siuan that's revealed in NS that diminishes the surprise of things in TGH.

What specific events is it that you are referring to in TGH that are of relevance?

As I mentioned in an earlier post - I've mainly read them in Swedish translation, and one book in english is two in swedish -> the title doesn't give me so much. :P I do, however, completely agree with the fact that NS should be read last.

WinespringBrother
01-23-2012, 02:53 PM
TEOTW is mostly Rand and Perrin-centric though, with 3 Nynaeve POV chapters and 1 Moiraine POV paragraph. Better to go with TGS and Egwene's MOA's instead.

Tomp
01-23-2012, 03:05 PM
What specific events is it that you are referring to in TGH that are of relevance?

As I mentioned in an earlier post - I've mainly read them in Swedish translation, and one book in english is two in swedish -> the title doesn't give me so much. :P I do, however, completely agree with the fact that NS should be read last.

The relevance for female characters are especially prevalent in their time in Fal Dara where every man steps wide of the women.
They also meet the Amyrlin there who, at the time, is the most powerful person in the world, at least when it comes to respect from other rulers.

A good scene could be when Rand learns that he's supposed to meet the Amyrlin, the putting on nice clothes scene with Lan and ending with the meeting itself. In that scene you have the bit about Lan telling him that everyone answers a summons from the Amyrlin.

Another scene in Fal Dara is the conversation Rand has with Lord Agelmar, when he tries to see Egwene, where Agelmar basically says that women decides what the men are allowed to do.

Tomp
01-23-2012, 03:11 PM
TEOTW is mostly Rand and Perrin-centric though, with 3 Nynaeve POV chapters and 1 Moiraine POV paragraph. Better to go with TGS and Egwene's MOA's instead.

That is true, you see everything from their point of view. The problem is that the teacher hadn't read the series.
It's easier to start at the beginning with 2 POW rather than 12 books in with 20 or so plots and 50 important characters going on at the same time.

Universum
01-23-2012, 03:27 PM
TEOTW is mostly Rand and Perrin-centric though, with 3 Nynaeve POV chapters and 1 Moiraine POV paragraph. Better to go with TGS and Egwene's MOA's instead.

Well, that isn't really a problem. You could still see a strong person through someone else's perspective, right?

That is true, you see everything from their point of view. The problem is that the teacher hadn't read the series.
It's easier to start at the beginning with 2 POW rather than 12 books in with 20 or so plots and 50 important characters going on at the same time.

Yeah, I thought about that too. Maybe I should give him like a family tree or something? :P

Tomp
01-23-2012, 03:43 PM
I refuse to read the swedish translations because of the horrible name of the series.

In addition I've found that reading the books in english has been positive in a couple of ways.
First, you don't have the filter between the author and the reader which a translation sometimes can be.
Second, it really helped me with my english to read books in english. You expand your vocabulary and understanding quite a bit.
Third, it's easier to comunicate with these other lunatics on this site.

Universum
01-23-2012, 03:51 PM
I refuse to read the swedish translations because of the horrible name of the series.

In addition I've found that reading the books in english has been positive in a couple of ways.
First, you don't have the filter between the author and the reader which a translation sometimes can be.
Second, it really helped me with my english to read books in english. You expand your vocabulary and understanding quite a bit.
Third, it's easier to comunicate with these other lunatics on this site.

Lol, I didn't notice that I had another Swede here. ^^ But yeah, I agree. It's much, much better in English in so many ways. I simply read it in Swedish because that's what I, by accident, started with, and then it just continued..

sleepinghour
01-23-2012, 03:53 PM
Better to go with TGS and Egwene's MOA's instead.

So...the essay should be about how spankings provide good character development for female characters?

Zombie Sammael
01-23-2012, 04:05 PM
TGH contains the single darkest example of gender politics in the series; Egwene's time in captivity as a damane highlights the essential dichotomy of the gender-essential magic system, as well as the weaknesses inherent therein (women "surrender" to the Power and thus can be collared and manipulated more easily than men who struggle against it). It also highlights much about the character of Egwene, who, like her or not, cannot be ignored in a discussion of gender in WOT.

Any chance we might get to see the finished essay? I'm hoping to put together an article on this very subject for a feminist blog around the time of AMOL being released.

Universum
01-23-2012, 04:42 PM
TGH contains the single darkest example of gender politics in the series; Egwene's time in captivity as a damane highlights the essential dichotomy of the gender-essential magic system, as well as the weaknesses inherent therein (women "surrender" to the Power and thus can be collared and manipulated more easily than men who struggle against it). It also highlights much about the character of Egwene, who, like her or not, cannot be ignored in a discussion of gender in WOT.

Any chance we might get to see the finished essay? I'm hoping to put together an article on this very subject for a feminist blog around the time of AMOL being released.

Well.. whenever it passes it will be published online whether I would want it or not, so I guess you could :P Nah, but if I turn out pleased with it I am likely to post it here. It's not supposed to be done until May/June-ish, though. But I might publish drafts here before that in order to get feedback ^^

Also, thank you for the Damane-aspect. That part is important indeed, and I had "forgotten" about it. I really dislike Egwene, but I have started coming to terms with the fact that she will be one of the most important characters in my essay. :P

confused at birth
01-23-2012, 04:58 PM
(women "surrender" to the Power and thus can be collared and manipulated more easily than men who struggle against it)

I didnt know that was proven or just my silly idea about why they worked. and I never thought about the difference in the power being because of gender in that way.

I looked at it like a pair of hydraulic systems one using natural pressure and the other using a type pump and since the symbol for Aes Sedai was from the bottom half of the old sign it made sense to me.

Lupusdeusest
01-23-2012, 08:54 PM
How about including some time in Far Madding to contrast that kind of civilisation - the obvious matriarchal - with the other societal systems in Randland, where gender stuff is less... flagrant.

It's annoying your supervisor can't read the lot :p

Universum
01-24-2012, 12:08 AM
How about including some time in Far Madding to contrast that kind of civilisation - the obvious matriarchal - with the other societal systems in Randland, where gender stuff is less... flagrant.

It's annoying your supervisor can't read the lot :p

It is INCREDIBLY annoying. I think that this might be one of the hardest tasks I'll face. :S

Lupusdeusest
01-24-2012, 12:39 AM
It is INCREDIBLY annoying. I think that this might be one of the hardest tasks I'll face. :S

Sure you don't know of a nice disused bunker with doors that lock from the outside only?

Universum
01-24-2012, 12:52 AM
Sure you don't know of a nice disused bunker with doors that lock from the outside only?

Believe me, that thought crossed my mind too. :P But mostly I am just happy that he accepted my theme. The teacher I had thought of for my supervisor said she couldn't stand fantasy, so I'm just lucky that this one is so positive. Gotta give him some creds for that.

Zombie Sammael
01-24-2012, 06:57 AM
Believe me, that thought crossed my mind too. :P But mostly I am just happy that he accepted my theme. The teacher I had thought of for my supervisor said she couldn't stand fantasy, so I'm just lucky that this one is so positive. Gotta give him some creds for that.

In addition to whatever books you give him, I'd be tempted to direct him towards Terez's reference library, or at least a summary of the other books, so that he can at least work out what's going on. Who knows, you might convert him to the fandom. :D

Zombie Sammael
01-24-2012, 07:00 AM
I didnt know that was proven or just my silly idea about why they worked. and I never thought about the difference in the power being because of gender in that way.

I looked at it like a pair of hydraulic systems one using natural pressure and the other using a type pump and since the symbol for Aes Sedai was from the bottom half of the old sign it made sense to me.

I think that it's pretty obvious when you compare how the sad bracelets work to how the a'dam works, in terms of the sad bracelets actually being defeatable and eventually requiring co-operation and more than one sul'dam, whereas the a'dam (as far as we know) is undefeatable.

I like the imagery of the hydraulic pump, but can you explain a bit further? Do you mean in reference to the a'dam/sad bracelets or the OP generally?

confused at birth
01-24-2012, 07:34 AM
I like the imagery of the hydraulic pump, but can you explain a bit further? Do you mean in reference to the a'dam/sad bracelets or the OP generally?

yes but I think it should be moved somewhere else later as it doesnt seem relevant here.

the OP generally

I have always looked at it like the difference between using natural pressure like a water tower and a pump. I was told when I started college that my courses would make me see the world based on them all the time and these are how I have thought of them since the explanation in EOTW

I look at saidar as being like a water tower, once it is there all you do is make the connection and guide the flow. you need to regulate the connection or you will get way more than you need because there is a lot of pressure there but as long as you watch the flow you won't have any problems.

Saidin is the pump which also fits in with the taint. You have to have enough force to pull it up and the amount of pressure you get is down to how strong your pump is. you will also suck up any crap on the surface of whatever you are working with and what you get will be a mess after going through the pump.

If you let either build up more pressure than the system can safely handle you will burst a pipe and that would really ruin your day


What I never said it was good:)

just the reason why I never looked at the differences between them being about gender stereotypes

Toss the dice
01-24-2012, 04:55 PM
I've never thought the women of the WoT were notably strong. More like stubborn and "born with" an air of authority, at least in their own minds.

With very few exceptions (such as Moiraine, Siuan, or Birgitte), I view women as a whole in the WoT as fairly stereotypically female. The Supergirls (among others) constantly battle their own fears and inner emotional turmoil. Constantly. That shit never stops.

With a few exceptions (such as Perrin), the men simply do what needs to be done. In the middle of a dangerous quest in a dangerous place with Trollocs all around us? We have to kill them. Period. Women in the WoT spend half the time trying to boost their own courage and morale in order to deal with any threat whatsoever.

Example:

"I am strong. I am the Amyrlin. I am the daughter of Bran Al'Vere! Am I doing the right thing? What if such and such happens? I can do this! The sisters gave me the stole and now I have to be a leader! I have to be strong!"

as opposed to:

Lan cuts the Trolloc's head off.

eht slat meit
01-24-2012, 05:44 PM
Rather than overwhelming him with the multitude of WoT-based resources, I might suggest adding an annotated list of page references and perhaps explanations that put what you're trying to convey in that light.

After all, making a reader - one who is not a casual reader, but an instructor - research your work to understand it, doesn't seem like such a good idea.

There are any number of passages that can fit such a task, many of which have already been referenced by TL members in this thread.

Universum
01-25-2012, 06:04 AM
I've never thought the women of the WoT were notably strong. More like stubborn and "born with" an air of authority, at least in their own minds.


But they are still, compared to other fantasy novels, visible and a big part of society. The most powerful person living is a woman - be it the Amyrlin or the Seanchan Empress. I am not really out to compare the WoT-women to each other, but to other fantasy-women, and perhaps women in our own history.

A friend of mine mentioned something that I found interesting. The gender roles in WoT are pretty much the same as they were in our own 15th century, but the difference is that the power lies with the women. There is indeed a difference between gender roles and gender power(?), isn't there?

Tomp
01-25-2012, 06:26 AM
But they are still, compared to other fantasy novels, visible and a big part of society. The most powerful person living is a woman - be it the Amyrlin or the Seanchan Empress. I am not really out to compare the WoT-women to each other, but to other fantasy-women, and perhaps women in our own history.

A friend of mine mentioned something that I found interesting. The gender roles in WoT are pretty much the same as they were in our own 15th century, but the difference is that the power lies with the women. There is indeed a difference between gender roles and gender power(?), isn't there?

I agree that there is a clear dominance of female rulers in WoT and their standing in society is much higher than many other fantasy books and our own history. Unless you go back to pre-historic times, where pagan priestesses had a strong position (Vlvas in the times of the Vikings for instance).

However don't mention the 15th century to our American and Canadian friends here. They can't relate to that. :p

Toss the dice
01-25-2012, 10:37 AM
But they are still, compared to other fantasy novels, visible and a big part of society. The most powerful person living is a woman - be it the Amyrlin or the Seanchan Empress. I am not really out to compare the WoT-women to each other, but to other fantasy-women, and perhaps women in our own history.

A friend of mine mentioned something that I found interesting. The gender roles in WoT are pretty much the same as they were in our own 15th century, but the difference is that the power lies with the women. There is indeed a difference between gender roles and gender power(?), isn't there?

I agree with this. The women of the WoT are definitely more dominant and powerful than in the average fantasy novel, especially when it comes to Aes Sedai. And you hit the nail on the head regarding your comment about a difference between gender roles and gender power. I guess I was looking at the trait of "strength" as more of the gender role kind in regards to individual mental and emotional strength, rather than gender power and positions of authority.

While the Aes Sedai, Amyrlin, Seanchan Empress, queens, etc -- all have big-time power and authority, from a limited perspective the common people in villages and towns seem to follow suit, at least to a degree. In Emond's Field for example, the Women's Circle is at least on par with the Village Council, albeit it is arguable that the Council seems to have slightly more authority in the open, if not by more...back channels. (like the bedroom or threatening not to cook for a husband by a Women's Circle member)

However, when it comes to gender roles, women of the WoT strike me as very stereotypically female on the whole, with emotional and mental insecurities off the charts compared to the men. There are certainly exceptions to these gender roles on both sides though.

And yeah, saying 15th century doesn't really resonate anything specific to me. The only thing I know from that is that it was medieval times, I couldn't really tell you the difference from a gender role perspective between the 15th and the 14th centuries, or even the 16th century. For several hundred years, my mind breaks down the time into only two general categories: medieval and renaissance. For specific differences between centuries when regarding the medieval era, all I could really tell you were the advances and improvements in weaponry and technology. Certainly nothing about gender roles. I live in the New World, after all. :)

Universum
01-25-2012, 02:59 PM
However don't mention the 15th century to our American and Canadian friends here. They can't relate to that. :p

Valid point. :D

Cortar
01-26-2012, 03:04 AM
I've never thought the women of the WoT were notably strong. More like stubborn and "born with" an air of authority, at least in their own minds.

With very few exceptions (such as Moiraine, Siuan, or Birgitte), I view women as a whole in the WoT as fairly stereotypically female. The Supergirls (among others) constantly battle their own fears and inner emotional turmoil. Constantly. That shit never stops.

With a few exceptions (such as Perrin), the men simply do what needs to be done. In the middle of a dangerous quest in a dangerous place with Trollocs all around us? We have to kill them. Period. Women in the WoT spend half the time trying to boost their own courage and morale in order to deal with any threat whatsoever.

Example:

"I am strong. I am the Amyrlin. I am the daughter of Bran Al'Vere! Am I doing the right thing? What if such and such happens? I can do this! The sisters gave me the stole and now I have to be a leader! I have to be strong!"

as opposed to:

Lan cuts the Trolloc's head off.

.... Half of this book series is about Rand's constant, AHHHHH I AM THE DRAGON REBORN WHAT DO I DO AHHHHHHH

Lan has tons of emotional struggles, he tries to hide them but they are there.

Being stubborn and "born with an air of authority' is exactly what being strong is, at least when it comes to gender roles. Women in society are told to be submissive and go stay at home, not as at all in this fantasy world.

I think it is very sexist to call having internal conflict "womanly" and just plain silly when the person with the most is the main character: Rand.

Zombie Sammael
01-26-2012, 05:03 AM
.... Half of this book series is about Rand's constant, AHHHHH I AM THE DRAGON REBORN WHAT DO I DO AHHHHHHH

Lan has tons of emotional struggles, he tries to hide them but they are there.

Being stubborn and "born with an air of authority' is exactly what being strong is, at least when it comes to gender roles. Women in society are told to be submissive and go stay at home, not as at all in this fantasy world.

I think it is very sexist to call having internal conflict "womanly" and just plain silly when the person with the most is the main character: Rand.

But Rand is womanly. He is a man with the ability (at least at the start of the series) to do what only women can. He is also still the only man alive to be able to claim the title "Aes Sedai" which is now an explicitly female title. He is the son of a maiden, and essentially adopted into Far Dareis Mai. In a wider sense, he represents a shamanic crossing of the divide between genders. The only thing he hasn't done so far is take the female role in a bond, but that's more than open to him.

I agree with the point that you're trying to make, but Rand isn't exactly the best representative of manliness in this series. Perrin and Mat both have emotional conflicts, however, and neither of them are particularly feminine.

GonzoTheGreat
01-26-2012, 05:45 AM
Perrin and Mat both have emotional conflicts, however, and neither of them are particularly feminine.
Pink ribbons?

Zombie Sammael
01-26-2012, 05:47 AM
Pink ribbons?

That was Mat at his most masculine, in a sense. Although it is true, Mat also crosses the gender divide to some extent. In fact, if you examine it from the point of view of the OP, while Rand could be said to be both male and female, Mat could be said to be neither male nor female.

Oden
01-26-2012, 01:39 PM
Women in society are told to be submissive and go stay at home, not as at all in this fantasy world.

Women were staying home to take care of the children. Now they are dominating medical school, they don't have time for their children. There are several moms in my class whose children are taken care of by their fathers.


BTT: I think that you should use tEotW and tGH. Even though the they mainly has POVs from males, they provide an extensive panorama of the genders. They include the Women's Circle/Village Council, professions, Andor royalty, Shienaran life, the Ogier, some history of AS, the Seanchan's introduction etc. Besides, it's easier to grasp the concept if you start with the beginning.

Edited a major spelling mistake

Lupusdeusest
01-26-2012, 09:06 PM
BTT: I think that you should use tEotW and tGH. Even though the they mainly has POVs from males, they provide an extensive panorama of the genders. They include the Women's Circle/Village Council, professions, Andor royalty, Shienaran life, the Ogier, some history of AS, the Seanchan's introduction etc. Besides, it's easier to grasp the concept if you start with the beginning.


That's probably the way to go. It's a shame we can's squeeze Lugard in there.
I just need to get out of my bias of READ ALL the BOOKS.

Oden
01-27-2012, 04:03 PM
If the supervisor reads the first two books, the rest are sure to be next (though I didn't get stuck until tDR). RJ wrote the books with vivid characters and lots of sub-plots and I think that most literary teachers enjoy that kind of writing.

What's so special about Lugard?

Seeker
01-27-2012, 07:23 PM
But they are still, compared to other fantasy novels, visible and a big part of society. The most powerful person living is a woman - be it the Amyrlin or the Seanchan Empress. I am not really out to compare the WoT-women to each other, but to other fantasy-women, and perhaps women in our own history.

So, you're not really judging the characters themselves but rather the scoiety they live in. Is that it?

Lupusdeusest
01-27-2012, 07:46 PM
What's so special about Lugard?

The completely different status of women in the entire city.

The Angry Druid
01-28-2012, 10:45 PM
Well, I'd recommend you have him read a book that contains the reasoning for your premise.

WoT in the current age is female dominant because people know that the male half of the source is tainted, and only women can safely channel the One Power at this time in the age.

That's what makes it different from other fantasy series. That, and the current age is a step backwards from the previous technological and sociological accomplishments of the previous age.

It isn't merely primitive, like other fantasy settings (LoTR, aSoIAF), but things have actually devolved.

Anyway, I'd choose a book that illustrates that point. The fact of the DO's counterstroke and the taint, and the de-evolution from the previous age.

Universum
02-01-2012, 06:16 AM
So, you're not really judging the characters themselves but rather the scoiety they live in. Is that it?

In a way, yes. But I will "pass judgement" upon certain women because of their traits too.

Universum
02-01-2012, 06:19 AM
If anyone is interested in knowing, I have asked him to read Eye of the World and The Great Hunt, with recommendations to a WoT-wikia for him to be able to grasp what I am talking about that is beyond these books. In the essay itself I was thinking of adding an appendix with explainations for characters/places/"terminology" etc.