Standpoint Theory Application Essay

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¶ … Rebecca from a Feminist Standpoint

The Accommodation of Rebecca from a Feminist Standpoint

This paper will be about theories of communication. This paper will summarize and discuss standpoint theory. The paper will describe and interpret instances of theory in practice. The paper will discuss the relationship between theory and application. Throughout the examination, the paper will keep in mind the quote from Kurt Lewin that "There's nothing so practical as a good theory." The paper will describe theory and describe theoretical application of theory. The example of theory in practice for this exercise will be the novel Rebecca. The paper will examine the novel from a feminist standpoint. In this way, the novel demonstrates the applied theories in practice via the actions of few main characters. The paper will focus on a few key characters and scenes to show how the theories of communication are evident and how these theories play out in the symbolism and communication of the characters.

Reading Rebecca from a Feminist Standpoint

Theories help us think before we act; they can assist us to consider possibilities and predict outcomes. Theories can help us pinpoint our intentions and hopes. The standpoint from which we create and apply our theories has to do with individual and group identity. This paper will use the novel, Rebecca, as an example of Standpoint Theory in practice. For the purposes of this discussion, the standpoint from which the paper will examine Rebecca will be from a feminist literary standpoint. Rebecca is the story of a dominating, gorgeous, insatiable woman. The complexity and range of her character is revealed and no matter her behavior, honorable or deviant, her accommodation is the desire of many. The paper will analyze the communication behaviors of such characters as Rebecca, Mrs. Danvers, Maxim de Winter, and the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter as these theories affect fictional characters based on real-life situations lived through by actual people.

Standpoint theory is a theoretical explanation of relative perspective. Standpoint theory describes the view individuals have of the world that includes what those individuals focus upon in addition to what is obscured. The groups to which people belong play a large role in their standpoint or perspective. Various group have varying modes of communication, behavioral codes, and structured relationships. In a capitalist culture such as American culture, economic and social inequality is a determining factor in the theory of standpoint. It is no surprise that the perspective of the affluent differ greatly from that of majority of average citizens. Power alters perception and standpoint theory describes the disparity in experience and viewpoint.

The primary goal of feminism is the establishment of equal rights and privileges for women in all arenas of society, especially within institutions, social arenas, and politics. Part of feminist theory includes the analysis and articulation of gender and sexual inequality. Feminist theory also includes the examination, promotion, and evolution of women's issues, rights, and interests.

Rebecca and Mrs. Danvers represent the feminist spirit while the second Mrs. de Winter and Mr. Maxim de Winter represent traditional patriarchy. The feminist characters' reign of power comes to an end at the hands of nature -- fire and water -- primary elements of Mother Nature, another symbol of the feminine. Rebecca engages readers in worthwhile thought-work as to the relationship between gender and power by not conforming to the traditions of romance nor of feminism. In this way, Rebecca can act as a critique of patriarchy and feminism at once.

While living, Rebecca was a perfect queen of the domestic sphere. She is revered and adored by her servants and peers. Rebecca is more powerful after death as a presence. Though Rebecca's physical body is no longer present, thanks to Maxim, she is omnipresent. Rebecca becomes a ghost. She also becomes a god-like character. It is as if she is always around though invisible, her wisdom is divine, and her influence is all over Manderley. She is a silent, malicious goddess. In chapter 14, when Mrs. Danvers reveals Rebecca's bedroom to the second Mrs. de Winter, Mrs. de Winter tentatively posits, "Do you think she can see us talking to one another now?" One some level, albeit unconscious or subconscious, the second Mrs. de Winter knows the answer is "yes."

If Rebecca is a god-like character, then Mrs. Danvers is a high priestess. She builds a shrine to Rebecca and worships her like a false idol. Mrs. Danvers is another powerful feminist character. She holds the highest position amongst the Manderley staff. Danvers is stern, direct, and even masculine. She does not have the influence Rebecca has, but she advocates on behalf of Rebecca. According to Mrs. Danvers, there is no one but her and she was perfect. She makes it clear to the second Mrs. de Winter that she will never be Rebecca, only a poor imitation of her. In chapter 19, Mrs. Danvers literally moves in for the kill when she says, "Why don't you go?...He doesn't want you, he never did. He can't forget her…It's you who ought to be dead, not Mrs. de Winter…there's not much for you to live for…Why don't you jump now and have done with it?" Mrs. Danvers tells her she is unwanted, she has been lied to, that her marriage is false, she cannot compare to Rebecca, and that her life is worthless. Mrs. Danvers does not even refer to the second wife as "Mrs. de Winter"; even in death, she considers Maxim and Rebecca still married.

The power to create and transform is a power shared by Rebecca and Mrs. Danvers. Mrs. Danvers tries to make the second Mrs. de Winter live and die like Rebecca. She encourages Maxim's second wife to wear Rebecca's gown at the ball. As the second Mrs. de Winter descends the stairs, her husband stares at her brimming with mixed emotions. In one way, Maxim still loves Rebecca. He also feels disgusted and horrified to see his new wife resembling his former wife whom he murdered. In chapter 19, she additionally encourages the second Mrs. de Winter to commit suicide by drowning in the sea, just as Rebecca's body was disposed of at sea. God created the heavens, the Earth, and man. The goddess Rebecca made the estate and breathed life into Manderley. Mrs. Danvers creates a new Rebecca.

Maxim de Winter murders Rebecca and disposes of her body at sea. The sea is a feminist symbol as well. The ocean is a huge womb and a huge grave. The ocean changes its temperament at a whim, stereotypically, like a woman. The ocean is affected by the moon, which even though people say, "the man in the moon," the moon is actually a feminine symbol. The Latin word for moon is "luna," from which such English words as lunar and lunatic are derived. The gender of "luna" is feminine. Women's menstrual cycles are directly affected by and connected to both the lunar cycles and tide cycles. The ocean, moon, and women are directly linked. The ocean can love one and cradle one. Many of Earth's first life forms originated from the oceans. It can be a bringer of life and a supporter of life. The ocean is mighty and can destroy at a whim. Currents can pull one down and in, doldrums can leave one stranded, and storms can annihilate anything. The ocean giveth and the ocean taketh away; again, just like a biblical God, but feminine. It is significant that Rebecca's presence and Manderley itself are destroyed by fire, the opposite of water.

From a communication theoretical standpoint, we can interpret the narrative of this novel as the story of a powerful, feminist character, Rebecca, whom everyone spent their lives accommodating, but never fully could because Rebecca is insatiable. Nearly every character… [END OF PREVIEW]

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