Women, Marriage, and Borders: A Comparative View of Nazan Bekiroglu’s Mücellâ and Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for ChocolateFulya Çelik Özkan
Women have continued to be dealt with from different perspectives in literature. Women are at the base of the family structure and come to the fore as a motif enriched through stories knitted with the realities of life. From history to the present, the social structure tended to positively and negatively identify women’s status. For this reason, women have been examined based on many aspects of literature, especially from a feminist perspective. Women are sometimes depicted as individuals, heroes, wives, mothers, or goddesses and have inspired world literature. This study will discuss female characters through novels from different cultures. It will analyze Nazan Bekiroğlu’s (2015) Mücellâ and Laura Esquivel’s (1989) Like Water for Chocolate using a comparative approach to the female characters who are oppressed by society and their mothers and to the deep narratives built around these characters. These two works focus on the role of marriage that is assigned to women from different perspectives. During the comparison, the article will discuss issues such as the motherdaughter relationship, social oppression against women, and women’s defense mechanisms. These two works selected from Turkish and Mexican literature will be examined with a socialist feminist literary criticism by considering the differences and similarities between these two cultures. In addition, the article will discuss how motifs such as mother, love, marriage, dowry, and kitchen create different worlds in related works and make inferences in line with this.
Kadın, Evlilik ve Sınırlar: Nazan Bekiroğlu’nun Mücellâ ve Laura Esquivel’in Acı Çikolata Romanlarına Karşılaştırmalı Bir BakışFulya Çelik Özkan
Kadın dünyası edebiyatta pek çok açıdan ele alınmış ve alınmaya devam etmektedir. Özellikle toplumun en küçük yapı taşı olan ailenin temeli olarak kadın, hayatın içinden hikâyelerle bezenerek zenginleşen bir motif olarak öne çıkmaktadır. Geçmişten günümüze değişen toplum yapısı, olumlu ya da olumsuz anlamda, çoğunlukla kadına has bir statü belirlemeye eğilim göstermiştir. Bu açıdan bakıldığında edebiyatta kadın motifi feminist eleştiri başta olmak üzere pek çok açıdan irdelenmiştir. Bazen birey, bazen kahraman, bazen eş, bazen anne bazen ise bir tanrıça olarak karşımıza çıkan kadın, dünya edebiyatını beslemektedir. Bu çalışmada, iki farklı kültüre ait romanlar kadın ekseninde ele alınacaktır. Nazan Bekiroğlu’nun Mücellâ ve Laura Esquivel’in Acı Çikolata adlı eserleri üzerinden toplum ve anne tarafından baskılanan kadın karakterler ve bu karakterler üzerinden derinleştirilen anlatılar karşılaştırmalı bir yaklaşımla incelenecektir. Pek çok toplum tarafından kadına biçilen evlilik rolünü zıtlıklarıyla odak noktasına alan bu iki eser karşılaştırılırken özellikle anne-kız ilişkisi, kadına dönük toplum baskısı ve kadınların baskılara karşı geliştirdiği bireysel savunma mekanizmalarının üzerinde durulacaktır. Türk ve Meksika edebiyatlarından seçilen eserlerin karşılaştırılması sırasında bu iki kültürün ayrıştığı ve yakınlaştığı noktalar da yine kadın karakterler üzerinden sosyalist feminist edebiyat eleştirisi aracılığıyla ele alınacaktır. Anne, aşk, evlilik, çeyiz ve mutfak motiflerinin bambaşka dünyaları yansıtan edebi eserlere dönüşümü tartışılacak ve bu yönde çıkarımlar yapılacaktır.
In literature, women often appear as characters who become heroes by not giving in to oppression or who try to cope with the grievances brought on by oppression. Reflections also occur on the different systematic oppressions against women in various branches of art. Marriage is one of the elements of systematic pressure on women in many cultures. Marriage, which different feminist movements oppose because it enslaves women or exploits their labor, has been desired and encouraged by patriarchal societies under all circumstances. In addition, marriage appears in literature as an element of oppression. The focal point of many narratives sometimes involves what happens within the institution of marriage, while other times it involves polygamy or the pressure of marriage with which single women struggle. The underlying reason for this oppression is essentially how women are identified with the home and how gender inequality is reproduced in this way. When addressing marriage, which is only one of the many social pressures against women, the mother appears to usually represent this pressure within the household. Many literary works deal with the various points of conflict between a mother and daughter. Mothers’ efforts to raise their daughters in line with the norms determined by society can be considered as behavior aimed at protecting the daughters. However, this effort to protect quite possibly will push individual boundaries and turn into a conflict where the girl will make no effort whatsoever to resemble her mother. This study will discuss Nazan Bekiroğlu’s (2015) Mücellâ from Turkish literature and Laura Esquivel’s (1989) Como Agua para Chocolate [Like Water for Chocolate] from Mexican literature. Mücellâ tells the story of a woman whose life passes by while trying to meet the expectation to get married in the society in which she lives, expected especially from her mother. Meanwhile, Like Water for Chocolate addresses from an opposite perspective the pressure that is placed on women regarding marriage. The reader is told that Tita, who is expected to not get married in the society in which she lives due to being the youngest daughter, is stuck between her love and what is expected of her. This article compares these two works using a feminist literary criticism from various aspects, such as examining how geographically and culturally distant societies show a similar pressure reflex regarding single women and comparatively evaluating both works in terms of the women’s efforts to develop a defense mechanism for themselves and what they have gained and their lost due to this effort. Some crucial inferences can be made when handling these two works along the axis of society and marriage. First, both societies depicted in the works place importance on marriage and on preserving the roles assigned to women. These roles assigned are similar in the context of these two works and consist of being the person who manages the house. However, while society accepts marriage as a main duty for all women in Mücellâ, marriage is positioned as a privilege that the youngest girl can never attain in Like Water for Chocolate. Although social norms and traditions differ, the societies depicted in both works accept marriage as an achievement and privilege. The characters have quite different attitudes against the impositions they face about marriage. While Mücellâ seems to have accepted these impositions and adapted to society’s expectations by thinking she has been maltreated, Tita enters a fight. In other words, while Mücellâ conforms to the type of woman her traditions demand, Tita opposes this and tries to break the rules by breaking the gender stereotypes imposed by society. Tita and Mücellâ cling to life by doing their best without reacting in the limited areas of movement that are offered to them. While Mücellâ prepares a dowry for others and sees the distribution of her dowry as a sign of lost hope in marriage, the same situation manifests in Tita’s extra long blanket as something that will lead to her death. In both works, the characters’ skills to stand up for themselves bring them neither victory nor happiness, instead this only increases their resistance to the conditions under which they live. In this regard, their efforts that have been confined to specific patterns are far from able to bring them happiness; one can deduce that the drawn boundaries must be crossed and the surrounding walls must be demolished in order to achieve true happiness, freedom, and victory. Mücellâ and Tita are women stuck in two different societies and in two different oppressive environments. The common theme of this literary environment is marriage. For Mücellâ, while the demand to get married mainly comes from society and her mother, for Tita, this pressure comes from her own desire. Although the works have common points such as the limited private space and authoritarian mother figures, these women have two separate personalities and different passions.