The Color Purple follows the traumatic life experience of Celie, the main character in the movie, a young African-American woman. She was raised in the rural parts in Georgia and grew up thinking that someone had to have power over her because of the position of her father. Her father was a man that thought that women had to do whatever ever to please him and satisfy all of his needs. This left no exception to his daughter, Celie, who was repeatedly raped by her father, and ends up giving birth to two kids at a very young age because of it. Her father takes the kids away because he doesn’t want anyone to know what was going on and because if someone knew his daughter had been pregnant, he wouldn’t be able to marry her off. Celie has a sister named Nettie who the father seems to protect and care for more because when a man comes to marry her, the father urges him to take Celie instead. This situation was no better for Celie because if it wasn’t the same it was worse than her being abused by her father. exploitation.
Celie writes letter to God and explains to him all the details of her life because she feels like nobody else is listening. Her father always told her to tell nobody but God and that stuck with her through all of her tragedies and triumphs because she was able to get through it that way. But throughout the movie Celie meets women who all have very different personalities and ways that they deal with the men in their life. By building these relationships with other black women, Celie gets strength and is able to develop insight from all of their point of views. In the end she gets to develop a sense of her own right knowing who she is and what it means to be a woman. She is able to grow her own values and understand what her experiences have done for her and how they shaped who she was able to be. It allowed her to see that she was independent and didn’t need a man to take care of her or provide for her.
In the film, the gender roles are shown very clearly. The males in this film are shown as having the most power and being the leader of the household and controlling everything. They don’t do work, are very dominant and show no affection of care. They have the most control over the women in the film because they show them as bowing down to the men as a sign of respect. The women in the film are seen as obedient and submissive and someone without a voice. We see this with Celie because she is given away as a piece of property to her husband Albert, who is referred to as Mr., without any consent or choice in the matter. She becomes a slave to her husband and has to stay in line with his views or else she would be severely beaten and punished. Celie has lost all of her freedom through this and we see this because when Mr. wants to have sex, even if Celie does not, she is forced to do so. Celie is talked down to and seen as small by all the men in her life. She is supposed to do everything from the cooking, cleaning, tending to children, working in the fields, and is still seen as less to a man.
There are other characters in this movie that challenge their gender roles. The first one that we notice is between Harpo and Sofia’s relationship. We get to see a big difference in this relationship the what we see in Celie and Albert. Sophia is not the norm when it comes to marrying Harpo and he begins to clearly see this after they are married. She shows that women can be powerful and dominant in a relationship and that there should be a balance. Sophia is not one that can be bossed around and states how she will always make her own decisions. She will not be the wife that listens and does whatever Harpo has to say. She wanted to feel respected by her husband and she wants Harpo to talk and share ideas with her. Sophia and Harpo get into a fight and Sophia actually wins the fight. This is different because he is he man, and his wife is fighting him back and now he feels like less of a man and we can see that Sophia is very clear that she won’t back down to bow down. In the end, Harpo is the one that changes and is he is doing all of the things which are normally left for the woman to do and he is accepting of this. He came around and understood that it was okay to not have that dominant power but to be equals and that he doesn’t need to conform to the general standards of their society.
Because of the disruption of traditional gender roles in the film The Color Purple, we see a lot of growth in the women that are presented throughout the movie. We get an understanding on how they are being oppressed and how they can overcome it. It shows a lot of female solidarity because a lot of the women lean on each other in the movie for advice and companionship and through their experiences they are able to grow and unify as women. These women are looked as lesser than their male counters, but we see just how strong they are. They fight for their freedom and I think that is the best thing about the movie because they do it together with each other’s guidance and support. In the end, the movie came full circle with the women being strong and independent. The women were able to celebrate what it meant to be a female. It showed how their experiences developed and guided their emotional strength and how they were able to take control of their life.
The movie challenged the traditional female and male roles and it showed how women can be the provider and men can let their female partner show masculine characteristics and it not be something that isn’t accepted by society. This movie showed the parallels between the third wave of feminism. It was able to show how African American women were rooted in their culture, religion, and history. It showed how there was growth in the movement but that there is still working to be done so that women aren’t seen as objects that are weak, but very strong. I think The Color Purple showed many different parallels to gender roles that are traditional today and some that aren’t. It also suggested many ideas that gave the viewer insight on what it means to be a male and what it means to be a female. It gave clear views on what society views as what is acceptable and is normal, but it also showed what we might need to think twice about and what we should change. As a viewer, I enjoyed this film because it showed no matter what gender you are, you deserve equality.
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