Front Page Titles (by Subject) Woman's Power and Weakness in Literature - Literature of Liberty, Spring 1980, vol. 3, No. 1
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Woman’s Power and Weakness in Literature - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Spring 1980, vol. 3, No. 1 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Woman’s Power and Weakness in Literature
“Women on Women’s Destiny: Maturity as Penance.” Massachusetts Review 20(1979):326–334.
Ironically, female writers have built a literary tradition far more stifling to womanhood than have male writers who create female protagonists. Women novelists have tended to cast a lugubrious and punitive shadow over the lives of their heroines, while male writers often invest their female characters with a sense of power and option, despite their personal view of woman’s worth.
The literary image of the rebellious Victorian woman has the protagonist struggling furiously with the social mandates of her time, yet she gives away her power by submitting to a penitential marriage which subdues her to conformity. Jo March of Little Women (written by Louisa May Alcott), and Dorothea Brooke of Middlemarch (by George Eliot) are classical examples of creative, vibrant women who accept their inevitable defeat (marriage), thus relinquishing their potency. The consummation becomes a punishment and their life becomes streaked with tragedy. Rarely do women writers endow their heroines with a resilience toward re-birth. “They are doomed to grow up and to leave the stage.”
Modern literature is changing from the trend of female sacrificial victims, to rejecting romance and love altogether in favor of maintaining woman’s strength.
Auerbach concludes that the problem of women’s literature is how strictly it adheres to an exclusive female context. “In excluding male visions from its canon, it may also be dismissing a faith in growth, freedom, and fun, of which women’s worlds, in literature at any rate, are in general sadly deprived.”