Literary Canon Definition Essay

A literary canon is a classification of literature. It is compromised of literary works that share similar or related characteristics and are considered to be the most important of a specific time frame or place. The process in which a work is canonized is completely subjective. And just as the judgments and opinions of people change over time, so do literary canons. The status a work receives when it is entered into a literary canon is based on its relevance to the time period.

Therefore a social change such as the feminist movement can determine what works are added and removed from a literary canon Both the works of Gail Godwin’s “A Sorrowful Woman” and Karen Van Der Zee’s “ A Secret Sorrow” were composed during the rise of feminism. However, the perspective of woman each work has varies greatly. “

A Secret Sorrow” reflects the stereotypical view of woman that the feminist movement so strongly opposed. The view that woman are child bearing objects and should complete the role of the traditional housewife is irrelevant to the social changes happening during time period.

In stark contrast, “ A Sorrowful Woman” is written about a woman who is weary and unsatisfied with her role as a mother and child. She even goes as far as to detach herself from her family and isolate herself into one room. This perspective ties closely with way many women felt during the time period when feminism was rising. Thus its social and historical relevance to the time period makes “A Sorrowful Woman” a much better fit to be entered into the literary canon.

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