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The Gay Lesbian And Queer Theory

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1025 words Published: 3rd May 2017

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Gay and Lesbian studies focus its inquiries into two categories: the natural and unnatural behavior with respect to homosexual behavior, whereas Queer theory expands its focus to encompass any kind of sexual activity or identity that falls into normative and deviant categories. Questions asked in Gay and Lesbian studies expand its wide range of topics, �What causes homosexuality?� and more importantly �What causes heterosexuality?� It is questions like these which people find to be a sensitive topic, but they have to be indulged in in order to gain a understanding and perspective on social trends and what we define as normative behavior. Gay and lesbian literary criticism which has stem off of their respective studies look at images of sexuality, and ideas of normative and deviant behavior, in a number of ways which often involves tedious takes of finding gay or lesbian authors whose sexuality has been unpublished in texts or kept hidden by history; by rendering texts to discover specific themes, perspectives and techniques which stem from the normative or deviant world of homo, and heterosexuality�or by plainly looking at texts written by gay or lesbian authors and focus more on their style of writing and how they focus on sexuality as a constructed concept, which in turn, can be used as a reference mark to understand trends in culture and history.

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Queer Theory is the kind of in the opposition of Gay and Lesbian Theory, where GLT(gay and lesbian theory) focus more on sexuality, Queer Theory gets rid of sexuality all together and focuses more on topics of the normative and deviant. The word “queer”, as it appears in the dictionary, has a primary meaning of “odd,” “peculiar,” “out of the ordinary.” Queer theory concerns itself with any and all forms of sexuality that are “queer” in this sense–and then, by extension, with the normative behaviors and identities which define what is “queer” (by being their binary opposites). Thus queer theory expands the scope of its analysis to all kinds of behaviors, including those which are gender-bending as well as those which involve “queer” non-normative forms of sexuality. Queer theory insists that all sexual behaviors, all concepts linking sexual behaviors to sexual identities, and all categories of normative and deviant sexualities, are social constructs sets of signifiers which create certain types of social meaning. Queer theory follows feminist theory and gay/lesbian studies in rejecting the idea that sexuality is an essentialist category, something determined by biology or judged by eternal standards of morality and truth. For queer theorists, sexuality is a complex array of social codes and forces, forms of individual activity and institutional power, which interact to shape the ideas of what is normative and what is deviant at any particular moment, and which then operate under the rubric of what is “natural,” “essential,” “biological,” or “god-given.”

Emma, written by Jane Austen, is a novel which focuses on the protagonist, Emma Woodhouse, who develops a keen interest in matchmaking. She�s portrayed as young, smart, rich, and is at the top of the social hierarchy of her village, Highbury, which is sixteen miles outside of London. Her father, Mr. Woodhouse loves Emma very much, but he fails to give her any guidance, which the reader can infer is perhaps why Emma seems to have no limitation. Anyone would want to have Emma’s life, but she doesn�t seem to have the same views so she decides to spice things up a little and looks for someone to mold into a �gentlewoman.� Harriet Smith is her candidate, and she immediately decides to find Harriet a �fit� husband.

Emma, determined to make Harriet into the perfect woman, in her eyes, sets out to refine and tweak Harriet�s tastes, mainly in men. First off she persuades Harriet to turn down Robert Martin, the young farmer who is in love with her, and to turn her attention to the town�s clergyman, Mr. Elton. A new dilemma arises in that Mr. Elton is in love with Emma, or more preferably her money. After the fiasco with Mr. Elton, Emma thinks she learned her lessons in matchmaking.

The next portion of the story involves Emma trying so hard to fall in love with the gallant Frank Churchill, but it doesn�t happen, however she does manages to make a good deal of mischief by flirting with him in front of Jane Fairfax, a young woman who recently returned to Highbury to live with her aunts. Meanwhile, Emma decides that Frank might just be the perfect new man for Harriet. Emma�s exploits are watched and heavily commented on by her friend, Knightley, although Emma frequently ignores his advice. It all comes together when Knightley accuses her of belittling her poor neighbors, and this is when Emma begins to reflect upon her mistakes and even starts to change her ways.

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The whole pillar of the story crumbles when Harriet confesses that she loves Mr. Knightley, not Frank and Emma�s plan crumble. She realizes that she loves Mr. Knightley too, and convinced that he might be interested in Harriet, despite the fact that he practically lives with the Woodhouses, Emma crushes his attempts to propose to her. Eventually all romantic muddles are cleared and the story ends with Emma marring Mr. Knightley and Harriet, Robert Martin.

In the beginning of the novel, Emma does not want to marry, instead she wants to find someone suitable to mold and find a groom for her. In a sense this would not be of the normative behavior of the culture at the time. Rich people would marry rich people to gain status, but Emma figures since she is already rich she has the option to put it off. Also to point out the fact that Emma is attracted to the same sex is a behavioral attraction and her mean to mold her to a perfect �gentlewoman� is in a way evidence of her attraction. So both the normative and sexual behavior of Emma are to be noted when analyzing this novel.


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