You've Gotta Wise Up

For Chist's Sake Take Care Of Yourself

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 "Why would you ask me to spend the night with you if you thought i got with your roommate that same night?"
"Well if you had've got with him, that's whatever, I had my own agenda"
"that is literally disgusting"

I forgave him for calling me a liar, for being rude to me, but i just don't know how i'm going to forgive this conversation. 

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Jessica Lindsey
Brian Leung
Eng 421
Apr 18, 2011
The Use of Misconception in Feminists Texts
The misconception is an everyday occurrence, that often times go unnoticed. At the most basic level conception is to form, a misconception is not the opposite of forming but to form incorrectly, specifically incorrectly forming a thought or view point. Most misconceptions are superficial and have very little effect on our lives as a whole. Thinking that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure that can bee seen from outer space, it’s practically invisible after 180 miles up, or that the hair and nails of the deceased contain to grow when actually it’s an illusion due to the skin shriveling up, is trivial (list of common misconceptions). But like most things when taken to an extreme, misconceptions can have a serious and sometimes damaging side. In literature, misconceptions once revealed as what they are will shed light on the author’s purpose; often times an idea or concept the author believes needs to be revealed to the general public to bring awareness to its’ invalidity and to persuade the audience toward the viewpoint of the author. Awareness and persuasion are significant goals for feminist writers and how they are accomplished is examined by critics using feminist theory. The aim of feminist literary theory is “exposing the sexual stereotyping of women” (Kolodny 1) and to question “inequities, restrictions, penalties, [and] denials” (Olsen, Eagleton 1). Feminist’s aims can be reached through the use of misconception. There are three ways an author uses misconception in a text; through the misconceptions of the characters which as an audience we are aware of, misconceptions of society during a certain time period, and by challenging or criticizing the personal misconceptions of the reader.

Edith Wharton’s Roman Fever is a prime example of “literature as a social institution, embedded not only within its own literary traditions, but also within the particular physical and mental artifacts of the society from with it comes” (Kolodny 4). Wharton uses this text to challenge societal misconceptions about women’s sexuality and expectations during in the late nineteenth century. The two main characters of Roman Fever, Alida Slade and Gace Ansley, are pitted against each other from the start with subtle remarks in their early conversation, but it is revealed their true conflict is based around a memory each one has of a significant night from their youth. But both women’s memory is in way incorrect. Alida’s memory is embedded in a fake love letter from her fiancé to Grace, arranging a rendezvous at the Coliseum, believing that Grace had went for meeting and had fallen ill to a cold night of waiting for nothing. Grace unaware that the letter was a fake, sent a response to Alida’s fiancé and did meet with him that night which lead to the conception of her daughter Barbara not “roman fever”, morning sickness was the illness she had fallen under. It is Alida’s vindictive streak that causes her to bring up the memories of that night and straighten out the story for both women. Alida justifies her actions in the line “girls are vicious sometime, you know. Girls in love especially” revealing Wharton’s motives in debunking the expectation women at the turn of the century to be stoic, even when being revealed that their late husband had been in love with their best friend. This idea was a part of the American patriarchy “in which males wield various forms of influence over females” that “we have inherited, not merely as subject matter, but as the unquestioned, often unacknowledged given of the culture” (Kolodny 4). Wharton uses Alida and Grace’s try to remain respectably stoic as it is revealed to them that their memories were based on lies to build an argument against those expectations of women. Though we do not know if Grace’s telling of the night at the Coliseum is the truth, which is insignificant when you view this development to the story as a a device to challenge absence of acknowledgement of the existence of women’s sexuality.

1.Intro: define, examples, use in literature to persuade
2.Feminist theory
3.Example, Type/purpose

Types of misconceptions:
-the characters misconceptions
-misconceptions of social discourse of the period
-use of bringing to light the readers personal misconceptions

Works Cited
Kolodny, Annette. “Dancing through the Minefield: Some Observations on the Theory, Practice and Politics of a Feminist Literary Criticism.” Feminists Studies, Inc.1980. <>

Eagleton, Mary. “Finding a Female Tradition.” Feminist Literary Theory, A Reader. Second Edition. 1996 <>

“List of Common Misconceptions.” <>

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