Ah, how beautiful and gentle the Sleeping Beauty is, how sweet and innocent and nave and vulnerable Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White are! How wonderful it is to be rescued by Prince Charming, or a powerful, axe-wielding woodcutter! How romantic, how convenient, how great it is for men to rescue damsels in distress and live happily (I wonder who) ever after. Look at the portrayal of Eowyn, in the J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. She was just supposed to be the shield-maiden, stay behind to tend to the women and children. She tries to stand up and says, "But, I can fight!- Of course, Theoden says, "I need you to stay behind and to look after my kingdom. Lead the people to Helm's Deep where it is safe."".
Emily Bronte says it all in Wuthering heights:.
" the thing that irks me the most is this shattered prison. I'm tired, tired of being enclosed here. I'm wearying to escape into that glorious world, and to be always there, not seeing it dimly through tears, and yearning for it through the walls of an aching heart; but really with it, and in it -.
The above are thoughts and conventions that we have ingrained in our children since the days of yore. Little do we realize that the female gender is being socially conditioned into accepting their roles in a patriarchal society at great cost to her mental well-being. While a male critic would see the stories as a romantic story, a feminist will see it as a story of oppression. .
This brings us to the definition of feminist literary criticism. How can one define it to do it justice? Well, it can be stated as a criticism advocating equal rights for women in a political, economic, social, psychological, personal, and aesthetic sense.
Writers and Advocates of Feminist Criticism.
Judith Fetterly's book, The Resisting Reader (1978) points out that women should resist the meanings (i.e. the visions of how women ought to behave) that male authors - or female authors who have inherited patriarchal values - bury in their books.