Lovesick: The Curing of Traditional Femininity in Lauren Oliver’s Delirium (By Natasha G. and Joanna S. M.)

In Lauren Oliver’s Delirium, the government of a futuristic America decides that love is a deadly disease called amor deliria nervosa (or more commonly “deliria”) that must be eliminated through a lobotomy procedure.  The novel, told through the perspective of Lena, a seventeen-year-old girl, examines the value of emotionality as Lena’s initial anticipation to receive the cure, a right of passage, slowly dissipates until she actively resists treatment.  While the disease supposedly affects all citizens, Oliver solely depicts female characters as being dangerously infected, portraying their actions as extreme and irrational.  In looking at the ways in which deliria parallels with the historical treatment of hysteria in women, we can recognize that the experience of deliria is ultimately gendered as the cure for deliria requires the elimination of traditionally feminine traits in favour of strengthening traditionally masculine traits.

The procedure, which cures young individuals of the disease, rather than being an actual and official ceremony, is nonetheless a significant marker of coming-of-age. At eighteen, each young person is required to go through the surgery, and as such, the procedure acts as a passageway into adulthood. Adolescents, who are uncured and unmarked, and therefore, at risk of contracting deliria are transformed from emotionally-driven children into reasonable and responsible adults. While all individuals are required to undergo the procedure regardless of their identity, the experience and portrayal of deliria is nonetheless gendered. The cure for deliria rids individuals of the pleasures and pains of love and its associated emotive states, but the problem is that it is routinely women, rather than men, who are portrayed as being overly emotional and caring (Plant, Shibley Hyde, Keltner and Devine 81). Although men are emotionally expressive as well, according to Plant, et al., they are perceived as stereotypically only expressing anger or pride, which are not emotive states (at least that we are shown) that are met with disgust in Delirium, unlike displays of empathy and care (83). An example of this occurs in Lena’s memory of her mother caring for her after she fell off her bike and a passing woman shamed Lena’s mother for expressing care and empathy (Oliver 114). In a society similar to contemporary America, it is disproportionately women who are socialized into embodying traditionally feminine traits and roles, and therefore, it is the female characters who have to relinquish a significant part of their identity as to be feminine in Delirium is seemingly undesirable.

As such, the transition from girlhood into womanhood requires young girls to abandon stereotypically feminine traits – emotionality, passion, empathy, and care, among others – in favour of typically masculine traits – reasoning, detachment, disconnection and self-interest. The division of feminine and masculine traits ultimately reinforces the notion that femininity is equated with childishness and immaturity while masculinity is equated with adulthood and maturity.

Though all young adults need to be cured, there is a discrepancy within the novel in the way the disease manifests in women and men as female characters are portrayed as more emotionally affected by deliria than their male counterparts. All of the drastic cases of deliria described in the novel, come from women who are painted as “crazed” in their contraction of the disease, closely reflecting hysteria as it was historically understood as a medical ailment:  “[hysteria was] understood to be a [form] of love sickness, related to love melancholy… [a] gendered [disease], namely the [disease] of women, particularly young women” (Schleiner 661).  At the beginning of the novel, Lena warns of the effects of deliria with a story of a girl who jumped off a roof on the day of her procedure to avoid being cured (Oliver 3). She later references the story of her sister Rachel, who “cried all the time,” “couldn’t eat,” and “spit and hissed and kicked” when it came time for her procedure (Oliver 174). Medical professionals described “hysterical women” as “violent and aggressive, exhibiting dramatic symptoms that call for physical restraint” (Schleiner 671), mirroring the way Lena’s family and restrain her to the bed after knowing she has contracted deliria (Oliver 425).  Finally, throughout the novel, she continually recalls what deliria did to her mother, who was never cured, and eventually committed suicide (Oliver 31) which mirrors what Schleiner writes about hysteria as it  “was considered a matter of life or death” (672). Doctors suggested that the retention of menstrual fluid and female semen was linked to hysteria (Schleiner 665) – and that through marriage, the introduction of a male presence, a woman could be cured (Schleiner 674). Upon receiving the procedure, young girls and boys are paired off to be married in heteronormative couplings because they no longer experience the symptoms of deliria and are viewed as being able to safely come in contact with the opposite sex – and more so, as needing to marry and start a family to maintain traditional social structures. By paralleling deliria to hysteria, we can recognize how Oliver’s narrative further accentuates the ways in which women have to discard femininity and adopt more traditionally masculine traits in their the transition from girlhood to womanhood in order to be productive members of society.

In order to maintain social order, it seems that what makes one a socially responsible and productive member of society is inevitably a denial of and elimination of character traits typically associated with femininity. The presumption here is that such emotional states distracts members from being reasonable and logical – they risk becoming physically and emotionally unwell and disturbing social order. However, without love, individuals do not feel strong emotive states such as anger and passion, and without anger and passion to drive individuals through their lives, there is no motivation to challenge or change existing social circumstances. Rather than necessarily maintaining social order by making citizens primarily reasonable and logical, American society simply procures citizens (though not always successfully) that do not question the status quo. The division between emotionality and reasoning that is sustained through gender stereotypes and treats emotionality (and by association, femininity) is ultimately challenged in Oliver’s narrative as Lena comes to reject the necessity of the cure in her transition from girlhood to womanhood.

Discussion Questions:

1) Both Alex and Brian (Lena’s assigned life-partner) are the two male characters who contract deliria.  Both seem rather rational and in control of their emotions despite their experiences with love. So, does the transition from boyhood into manhood compare to the transition from girlhood to womanhood?

2) While Delirium is an exaggerated example of the way in which emotionality is seen as childish and immature and needing to be eliminated in order to maintain social productivity, in what ways does the novel mirror real life examples of women and men needing to subdue their emotive states for the sake of social order? (E.g. think of how women are supposed to be unemotional in politics or how men are not supposed to cry, etc.)

Works Cited

Oliver, Lauren. Delirium. HarperCollins Publishers, 2011.

Plant, E. Ashby, Janet Shibley Hyde, Dacher Keltner, and Patricia G. Devine. “The Gender Stereotyping of Emotions.” Psychology of Women Quarterly, vol. 24, 2000, pp. 81-92.

Scheiner, Winfried.  “Early Modern Green Sickness and Pre-Freudian Hysteria”.  Early Science and Medicine, vol. 14, no. 5, 2009, pp. 661-676.

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “Lovesick: The Curing of Traditional Femininity in Lauren Oliver’s Delirium (By Natasha G. and Joanna S. M.)

  1. Joanna and Natasha–
    First off, I think this is a very important connection that you’ve made between Lauren Oliver’s “Delirium” and the notion of female hysteria that prevailed until the early twentieth century (Micale 496). The similarities between the historically gendered ‘illness’ of hysteria and the society portrayed in Oliver’s dystopia are striking and as you argued, point to the “curing of traditional femininity” and the fact that this notion of praising stereotypically masculine traits and condemning stereotypically feminine traits is something that prevails in our world to this day.

    While this novel features a futuristic society and a dystopia classification, I contend that it mirrors our society more than we would like to admit. By this I mean that the only difference lies in the mandatory surgical procedure that is dictated by the government in order to rid everyone of the typical “feminine” emotive traits (love, empathy, emotionality) once they reach eighteen. Other than this enforced government protocol, the favouring of traits such as reason, detachment, and overall lack of outward emotion is identical to the way that our society continues to favour these “masculine” traits over those that are considered “feminine” due to their emotive characteristics. The government in Oliver’s society plays the role that social norms and constructs play in our society, as they both are responsible for policing which emotions or characteristics are deemed acceptable and powerful and which are deemed unacceptable and weak. The only difference thus lies in the explicit policing procedures that Oliver’s government mandates by means of a lobotomy procedure, while our society implicitly polices these same emotions and characteristics through the framework that has been created that emotions and certain characteristics make one weak and less accepted in society.

    These constructions appear throughout our every day lives in images of the media, popular culture, politics, and the various institutions that we participate in daily. The current political climate in the United States for example (while looking at it solely from a gendered perspective and not the candidate’s respective platforms) has been unkind to Hillary Clinton’s personality, characteristics, and display of emotions. Put to the test to demonstrate favoured “masculine” qualities, Clinton’s appearance and femininity have been tied up in questioning whether she would make a suitable President. For example, “on one late night show she was asked ‘can you open this jar of pickles’ to somehow demonstrate her robust health” (Hewitt 13) and her physical appearance has frequently been criticized by the media and public alike, as they question the strength of her political candidacy based on how she conforms to society’s standards of female beauty. Female politicians are implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, told that they have to tone down their emotive characteristics in order to be taken seriously when being compared to their male counterparts. In politics, typically “female” characteristics such as empathy or nurturing are considered negative if expressed by a female and are seen to weaken the female politician’s professional capabilities. In contrast, male politicians who exhibit characteristics deemed as “feminine” are often seen as more endearing. This double standard becomes even worse when female politicians are also criticized if they try to embody more masculine traits. For example, Hillary Clinton has been frequently criticized for “lacking warmth and spontaneity” (11). Thus, in politics, female politicians seem to face the “screwed if you do, screwed if you don’t” problem, where either way, they can’t win. In the world of politics, so-called masculine traits are favoured as being indicative of someone being able to ‘get the job done’. Fearing that things such as love or empathy could get in the way of important, global decisions, politicians are frequently depicted as having to subdue their ‘feminine’ characteristics in order to be taken seriously. For example, in Shonda Rhimes’ “Scandal”, President Fitzgerald Grant unwisely declares war on West Angola in order to satisfy the men who kidnapped the woman he’s in love with. The example serves to indicate that emotions and politics don’t mix. This discourse that is prevalent in our society today, especially with Trump vs. Clinton indicates that Oliver’s society isn’t too far off in favouring ‘masculine’ characteristics and punishing ‘feminine’ ones.

    While females are being shamed by expressing emotive characteristics, being called ‘crazy’, ‘unstable’, or ‘too emotional’, men are facing similar problems regarding society’s expectations that they repress any emotions. Movements such as The Representation Project indicates that “pressured by the media, their peer group, and even the adults in their lives, our protagonists confront messages encouraging them to disconnect from their emotions, devalue authentic friendships, objectify and degrade women, and resolve conflicts through violence” (representationproject.org). Additionally, “research shows that compared to girls, boys in the U.S. are more likely to be diagnosed with a behavior disorder, prescribed stimulant medications, fail out of school, binge drink, commit a violent crime, and/or take their own lives” (representationproject.org) due to the negative expectations of portraying stereotypically masculine emotions. The Representation Project’s film “The Mask You Live In” shines light on the idea that society’s gendered construction of emotion is harmful to both males and females and pulls from “neuroscience, psychology, sociology, sports, education, and media” (representationproject.org) to indicate how these negative constructions intersect in all areas of life.

    Lauren Oliver’s “Delirium” presents a society where the gendered construction of emotion is explicitly monitored, policed, and controlled by the government who mandate surgical procedures in order to have the stereotypical “feminine” qualities removed from its citizens. The mandatory lobotomies parallel our society’s constructions of gender and emotion, where Oliver’s society explicitly constructs gendered emotion and we implicitly construct gendered emotions. Once this parallel is met, Oliver’s dystopia is eerily similar to the social and gendered construction of emotions that we live amongst on a daily basis.

    Like

  2. Works Cited

    Micale, Mark S. (1993). “On the “Disappearance” of Hysteria: A Study in the Clinical Deconstruction of a Diagnosis”. Isis. 84 (3): 496–526.

    Hewitt, Gavin. “Hillary Clinton’s Flaws”. BBC News. 26 August 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37188339. Accessed 15 October 2016.

    “The Mask You Live In-About the Film”. The Representation Project. 15 October 2016. http://therepresentationproject.org/film/the-mask-you-live-in/about-the-film/

    Like

  3. First of all, I was really intrigued by your argument, and I had similar thoughts as well, while reading the novel. I like the way you described feminine emotions, and I definitely see a connection to real life in terms of how these emotional stereotypes are portrayed. I do think that men in particular have to subdue their emotions, especially if they are in positions of power, or in the spotlight in any way. I think that Alex represents a male character who is very in touch with his emotions, and is not afraid to express how he feels. This is not something that is typical of a male protagonist. For example, Four, from the Divergent series, is very closed off in terms of letting Tris know who he is, or how he feels. Alex is very much the opposite of this character. While he does not tell Lena right away that he is an invalid, the reader is lead to assume because of his expressive nature.
    Contrary to the male stereotypes, I would say that Hana embodies the female stereotype of being overly – expressive of her emotions. Right from the beginning of the novel, we see Hana’s rebellious nature, and her attitude toward everything she does seems typical of the teenage girl stereotype. She is loud, expressive, and often does not have a filter. In a way, Lena contradicts these stereotypes at the beginning of the novel especially. Lena is a follower when we first meet her. and she just wants to follow the rules so that she doesn’t get hurt. Lena’s behaviour at the beginning of the novel demonstrates what we typically see in today’s society, especially with figures like Hillary Clinton. As a woman running for President, Hillary Clinton often does not show emotions. Considering everything that Donald Trump throws at her, she is trained, partly by her position, and partly by society, to simply not react. If Hillary Clinton showed her anger, or hurt, or whatever else she may feel, the entire world would see. Worse than that, people would take that into consideration when deciding who to vote for because, if the woman can’t hold her own, how is she supposed to deal with the pressures of being president?
    I am not saying that these stereotypes are fair, nor to they fit with every boy and girl, or man and woman, in society. I am saying that they are present, and it is important that we recognize this topic in our society, which is why I am glad to see you had that in the discussion question.

    Like

  4. I hadn’t looked at the cure as an attack on attributes associated with women and girls before, so this was a really interesting post! It reminded me of how struck I was when reading by the description of the girls who were cured at Lena’s school before graduation, Theresa and Morgan: “The change is amazing. They seem peaceful now, mature and somehow remote, like they’re encased in a thin layer of ice”(91). Lena is particularly impressed with Theresa’s new way of walking, “straight and tall with her eyes fixed straight in front of her, her lips barely curled in a smile, and everyone shifts a little so she can pass easily”(91). At the time, it seemed very Stepford and creepy, like the girls have had their personalities replaced, or just plain wiped away. After your post, it feels like a clear representation of what Lena’s society values and wants of women: an unreachable, unemotional psyche and a maturity characterized by lack of feeling. This killing of ‘girlish’ qualities to succeed as a woman is also visible in the fact that Lena, on the cusp of womanhood, frequently describes herself as in between. She offers visions of hysterical, often out of control girls, like Theresa, Morgan and her sister, who return “gentle and content”(175) from their procedures as well-groomed women, ready to be paired off. This fits in really well with the previous comparisons to Hillary Clinton and her unwinnable battle to balance being “manly” enough to be taken seriously as a politician with still maintaining her “womanliness”, and how the middle ground sees her characterized as “lacking warmth and spontaneity”, as anxietydemandstobefelt pointed out.

    Like

  5. I think your connection between deliria and hysteria is a brilliant one. I think it emphasizes the point you made about the removal of feminine traits (being overly emotional) in the cure, and draws on the connection between the removal of the uterus in treating hysteria with the removal of the brain in curing deliria.
    In your discussion question, you ask about Alex and Brian. I think it’s important to note that we don’t hear their side of the story, we hear it through Lena, an emotional girl ‘infected’ with deliria. We understand Lena to be overly emotional because we see the story through her eyes and experiences, but we don’t know what’s happening to Alex when Lena isn’t around, or how he reacts when she leaves the Cove the day he tells her he’s an invalid, or if he breaks down when she’s not around like she does when he isn’t. Similarly, we only know Brian for a few pages and can’t begin to understand what his experiences have been like. I also think we must note that the segregation between the sexes within the Delirium society is a contributing factor to why we believe that the men are not as emotional as the women. This is also a first person perspective, so we have to remember that Lena is telling her story and the stories of the other women subjectively; they are not being told objectively.
    That being said, I still agree that women are portrayed as more emotional than men in the novel. Oliver could have found a way to depict the emotions of Alex in particular, since he plays a significant role in Delirium. Oliver could have had Lena notice tears in Alex’s eyes or have him break down when he sees Lena again after she ran away, but she doesn’t. I think this is evidence enough to agree with what you’re arguing. What you suggest in your question about men and women in today’s social order definitely applies to this. I think the example of Hillary Clinton is a great one. She was criticized for not smiling more and yet she seems to have it very ‘together’ in all circumstances (even when standing less than 10 feet away from Donald Trump — that woman deserves an award… or presidency). Trump is never smiling, and never asked to. If Clinton started to throw temper tantrums the way that Trump does, she would be considered overly-emotional and wouldn’t be taken as seriously in her candidacy. I think this discussion goes further than politics though. Young boys are generally taught it isn’t okay to cry as a male, whereas it becomes acceptable or understandable for girls to cry. I’ve heard my guy friends tell each other to “toughen up” or “stop being such a girl” when they become emotional over something, which lends to the argument that emotions are attributed to females only and surrounds it with negative connotation, as if it’s a bad thing to be connected to your emotions. I think this is further explored by the Dove commercial that interviews young girls and older girls about what it means to act “like a girl.” They are asked to “run like a girl” or “throw like a girl,” and this impacts how they perform as opposed to when they’re asked to run or to throw a ball in general. (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs if you haven’t seen this campaign.) This comes back down to how girls are portrayed as weak and the ‘normative’ is masculine, just like how deliria is considered as a weakness, and how the cure is the normative in Delirium.

    Like

  6. I am glad that you have pointed out the clear binaries within the novel. I argue that the author is purposely exaggerating the gendered differences and societal expectations between men and women in our society. A key theme in the novel is the idea of social order and control, this is continuously maintained by heteronormativity and the erasure of emotions. I would go as far as to contextualize this point though the lens of the 2016 United States Presidential Election. Hillary Clinton can be seen as a powerful, strong female leader. In order to be taken seriously by the society which she is campaigning to, Clinton has had to conceal many of her emotions. She must be strong, but at the risk of being seen as aggressive. On the other hand of the binary, we have Donald Trump. He is continuously seen “flying off the handle” and loosing his temper. He exhibits a lack of control over his aggression. He also does not show a softer, “sensitive” side. He cannot or else he places his masculinity at risk. We see similar discourses to these in the novel and the author’s construction of of male and female characters. Oliver’s construction of characters who desire the status quo reflects the desire that socialized individuals in modern day Western society have to fit in. Emotions are consistently seen as weakness, both in Oliver’s Delirium and today’s society.

    Like

  7. As the majority of other responses to your blog post stated, your comparison of hysteria and deliria is immensely eye-opening. I had never really thought of the procedure as targeting specifically characteristically female attributes, but you support your argument with many strong pieces of evidence. In response to your first discussion question, I concur that Brian is seemingly rational and in control of his emotions. However, as daniellegerritse points out, we don’t get their side of the story. Perhaps he was hysterical and emotional during his romantic interlude with the girl in the park but after being cured, is able to dissociate himself from the experience and no longer feels (as) emotionally about the experience. I don’t however, believe Alex exemplifies rationality nor is he in control of his emotions. I find that rather, he exemplifies these “characteristically feminine traits” of being overly emotional rather than the typically “masculine traits” of being logical, rational, and self-serving. There are two main reasons as to why I believe so: (1) Alex’s pursuit of Lena. I find that as an Invalid and a member of the revolution covertly living within the city, Alex risks it all by revealing himself to Lena. Lena is initially an avid follower of society’s mandates. There is no indication that she would be open to the idea of love or to Invalids, let alone the idea of loving an Invalid. Alex – who has a higher purpose in the city in relation to the rebellion – stupidly risks his position, his secrecy, and his mission by pursuing Lena and in the end, revealing himself to her. Instead of acting logically and weighing the risks and possibilities of the circumstances, Alex succumbs to his emotional desire for Lena and tells her all. Also, (2) Alex’s final act of self-sacrifice subverts all the stereotypical gendered male characteristics of being self-serving and non-emotional. In his overwhelming love for Lena, he performs by far the most emotional and illogical act in the book. Perhaps Alex doesn’t spit or cry or throw himself from the roof, but he literally gives up his life (for all we know) for the sake of Lena’s. As a result, I believe that Alex may be an exception to your argument in that he is a male character that exuberantly exemplifies the crazed symptoms of deliria.

    Like

  8. Natasha and Joanna,

    Within your post, you argue that a parallel can be drawn between deliria and hysteria, and by extension, deliria is a gendered disease. I think your argument is very compelling and well supported. To add, to be a woman was (and perhaps still is), in many ways, considered a state of disease. That is, women were considered failed or incomplete men. From childhood, men and women are socialized differently to develop attitudes and behave in a manner befitting their ascribed gender (McGory 16). The patriarchal socialization of women, however, renders them sick both physically and mentally (Gilbert and Gubar 53). Femininity essentially espouses the frailty of women—women are told to shrink themselves, to take up as little space as possible, to be passive, to be docile, to be gentle, to be dependent. It is no surprise, then, that women develop illnesses such as hysteria or anorexia (Gilbert and Gubar 54). This idea is replicated in Lauren Oliver’s Delirium. As you argue, “the cure for deliria requires the elimination of traditionally feminine traits in favour of strengthening traditionally masculine traits” (para. 1). In this way, femininity is presented as a state of disease that must be fixed using traits typically associated with masculinity. This point is further supported in the novel by the way in which women appear to be more affected by deliria than men (i.e. Rachel and Lena’s mother).

    In response to your first question, like most of the other comments explain, politics is a real life example of how men and women alike must subdue their emotions for the sake of social order. The same can be said, I argue, for members of the criminal justice system, such as lawyers and judges. Because the law is supposed to be impartial, men and women must put their emotions aside and instead focus on practicing the law in a fair and just manner. Doing so, however, sometimes results in very severe punishments for offenders. Nonetheless, emotions must be subdued within the criminal justice system in order to create a relatively impartial system.

    Overall, the parallel you draw between deliria and hysteria is a very compelling one. While Oliver’s novel may, at first, seem like an exaggerated example of the way in which emotions must be controlled, the more we analyze the text proves that it is more similar to our world than we may think.

    Works Cited:

    McGrory, Arlene. “Women and Mental Illness: A Sexist Trap?” Journal of Psychiatric Nursing and Mental Health Services, vol. 18, no .10, 1980, pp. 16-22.

    Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar. “Infection in the Sentence: The Woman Writer and the Anxiety of Authorship.” The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-century Literary Imagination, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000, pp. 45-59.

    Like

  9. It is clear from the many real-life connections that we have made between Delirium and our own world in 2016 that the ideas presented by this novel are more present in our society than may initially be thought. Another modern-day idea about love that can be related to the teenagers in this novel is the idea of infatuation or ‘puppy love’. The concept of ‘puppy love’ in our world conjures images of a girl doodling hearts on her notebooks and wanting her boyfriend to hold her hand and wait for her by her locker. The girl is more dependent on the boy in this formula of a typical high school ‘fling’, making it appear as though it is a strictly feminine feeling to experience young love or ‘puppy love’, even though the boy likely feels the same infatuation for the girl, his role in the relationship is much less prominent. In this lies the similarity between our world and Oliver’s, for in Delirium, the girls are also presented as being more strongly affected by the disease than the boys are.

    Something I found curious in the novel, that I wanted to bring to the class’ attention, is that the behaviour of the teenagers affected with the deliria can easily be compared to the way deeply in love adult couples in our world would act if their relationship was put in danger. The teenagers afflicted with the deliria are described as having a disregard for their own lives and poor judgement. These are not only common, but acceptable ways that loving couples are thought to behave in our world today. Mature couples often claim that they would take a bullet to save their partner and that they would do anything to make them happy, even if that means spending money they do not have or making other similar sacrifices. We are told that some characters in this novel have chosen to sacrifice their lives for love, examples being the girl that jumped from the roof to avoid her procedure and Alex, when he presumably is killed as he lets Lena escape into the Wilds. Using this parallel, we can assume that Oliver’s characters have experienced true love – not simply ‘puppy love’ or infatuation – which must mean equal involvement in passion, emotionality, empathy, and care (the traditionally female qualities) from both parties. Despite Delirium’s society’s efforts to hide it, the male counterparts in these young relationships must be as equally invested in the relationship in order for it to progress to true love rather then simply ‘puppy love’. It is this behaviour that the society’s government is trying to avoid, by declaring that love is dangerous and must be eliminated, and it can be presumed that this kind of self-sacrificial, stereotypically feminine behaviour is what is believed to be unhealthy about contracting the deliria.

    This post provided a very well thought out argument that addressed one of the most problematic aspects of the novel, and I was glad to see that it was discussed in this way.

    Like

  10. This post is very interesting, viewing the cure as a way to subdue ‘feminine’ emotions is really smart. The cure can be seen as a way to reduce femininity if emotions are viewed as inherently feminine. As for your second question, there are many ways that men and women are told to control their emotions for the sake of social order. Women are told not to be angry, even if something makes them angry, they are not to express that. As you have noted, men are not supposed to cry, but I would also argue that they are not supposed to express sadness in any way-at least not in public.

    Like

  11. I liked the point that you made that “femininity is equated with childishness and immaturity while masculinity is equated with adulthood and maturity”. I think that we can see this in our society, since men are seen as mature leaders and are more likely to become CEOs and political leaders. Deliria does make people traditionally more masculine. Feminine traits are seen as undesirable in Delirium and in our society.
    I think that you made an important connection between deliria and hysteria. I find it interesting that that our society pressures women to adhere to femininity, yet in Delirium they take away aspects of their femininity. Women were diagnosed with hysteria if they were not adhering to their feminine roles. Women were innately to be loving mothers and wives. It was thought that women, who were not happy being a mother and a wife, had something wrong with them. While it is the opposite in Delirium, they took away love and therefore no one is truly happy to take care of children. When Luna’s mother was caring and affectionate towards her, that was when people knew there was something wrong with her.

    Like

  12. As has been brought up a few times in the comment, Delirium is told through a first-person narrative. We do not get insight into Alex or Brian’s heads, and can only really hypothesize as to the extent of their symptoms of the deliria. Although traditional masculinity encourages minimal display of feelings, and to instead focus on pride and strength, love (such as paternal) is one of the acceptable excuses as to why traditional masculinity may derive, and more feminine feelings show. It is interesting, as you point out, that Alex and Brian are not portrayed as crazy and out of control unlike females having contracted it, which leads me to agree with your hysteria and deliria analogy.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s