Their Eyes Were Watching God Literary Criticism Essay

Topic #1
Throughout her life, Janie has to fight what is expected of her by other people. Follow her life in the novel, and comment on how she battles these perceptions.

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: The people with whom Janie lived tried to restrict her to an understood, stereotypical role, but Janie was able to free herself from these accepted roles.

II. Nanny
A. Thinks a woman should be safe
B. Encourages Janie to marry for convenience
C. Is satisfied with Janie’s life, though Janie herself is not

III. Logan
A. Cannot understand why Janie won’t act like his last wife
B. Expects Janie to work without question
1. Becomes more demanding when he feels threatened
2. Treats Janie like property
C. Janie leaves him for Joe Starks

IV. Joe Starks
A. Entices Janie with talk of ambition and dreams
B. Expects her to be content with his dreams
C. Feels threatened by her refusal
1. Tries to suppress her
2. Becomes abusive when she retaliates
D. His death liberates her

Topic #2
Compare the settings of the novel in terms of the system of power that is used in each society. How is power used in each society?

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: The setting in the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God is directly related to the hierarchy of power that each location...

(The entire section is 554 words.)

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Sites about Their Eyes Were Watching God

by Zora Neale Hurston

Hurston's novel which traces an African-American woman's search for her identity through three marriages and back to her roots.

Characters: Janie Crawford, TeaCake

Critical sites about Their Eyes Were Watching God

In Search of Janie: Tracking Character Development and Literary Elements in Their Eyes Were Watching God
http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/old-WILLA/fall99/berridge.html
"Janie Crawford, the main character in Zora Neale Hurston's novel Their Eyes Were Watching God introduced herself to the girls in my high school Women in Literature class three years ago as we began with chapter one, and each year students have heard about her before the reading begins. As Janie and her best friend Phoebe sit on the porch in Eatonville sharing a heaping planer of mulatto rice, Janie talks about her soul mate and husband TeaCake. Zora Neale Hurston draws us into her story with the soft drawl of the South Florida dialect in the velvet dusk. In this Harlem Renaissance novel, my students and I follow Janie through three marriages, seeing her strength and sense of self evolve. Since our first expedition into Eatonville, the character Janie has become a mainstay of our discussions in successive Women in Literature classes and the reference point from which the girls evaluate other female characters in the stories we include in this course."
Contains: Character Analysis
Author: Judi Berridge
From:Women in Literature and Life Assembly Vol. 8 Fall 1999
Keywords:
 
Liberation and Domination: Their Eyes Were Watching God and the Evolution of Capitalism
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2278/is_1_24/ai_58411666
Challenges poststructuralist readings of the novel and argues that "through the act of killing Tea Cake, Janie attempts--albeit unconsciously--to move beyond the mode of subjectivity endemic to late capitalism. "
Contains: Content Analysis
Author: Todd Mcgowan
From:MELUS Spring, 1999
Keywords:
 
"Love me like I like to be": the sexual politics of Hurston's 'Their Eyes Were Watching God,' the classic blues and the Black Women's Club movement
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2838/is_n2_v32/ai_21059951
"Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God is a text at once (ac)claimed for its ability to speak to contemporary gender and sexual politics and blamed for its inability to speak to the local, particularized politics of its time. Their Eyes has been used to situate strong, culture-based women at the center of an African American women's literary tradition, on the one hand, and has been read as reinforcing primitivism or as idealizing the 'folk,' on the other. As important as Hurston's critical reception has been, it has mediated against considering her work as politicized in her own historical moment. Just as Claudia Tate notes the invisibility of the politics of early black domestic fiction, I am suggesting that much of the political embeddedness of Hurston's text has been lost."
Contains: Content Analysis
Author: Carol Batker
From:African American Review Summer, 1998
Keywords:
 
The Minstrel Show Goes to the Great War: Zora Neale Hurston's Mass Cultural Other
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2278/is_1_24/ai_58411665
This essay examines the "international political forces circumscribing and informing" Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Contains: Content Analysis, Historical Context
Author: John Trombold
From:MELUS Spring, 1999
Keywords:
 
"The world in a jug and the stopper in (her) hand": 'Their Eyes' as blues performance
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2838/is_n3_v32/ai_21232161
"Zora Neale Hurston used the aesthetic principles, character, structure and language of blues music in her critically acclaimed novel 'Their Eyes Were Watching God'."
Contains: Content Analysis
Author: Maria V. Johnson
From:African American Review Fall, 1998
Keywords:
 

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Last Updated Mar 25, 2014

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