“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston S. Churchill
The short story Emil by Stuart McLean is a story centered around the interactions between a homeless man named Emil who was caught stealing plants in someone’s garden and Morley who is the wife to Dave, the owner of the Vinyl Café. The story shows the different ways people view Emil and how Morley manages to take some wisdom and learn from Emil. Morley learns that the position and experience of a person defines the way they perceive the world around them. This is demonstrated when Emil says “That’s too much” in response to Morley’s five-dollar donation (111). In our society, it seems a little strange for someone who needs money to say that, but that shows how Emil doesn’t think the same way as everyone else. In the same respect, when Dave says “If he gets money, he buys cigarettes and lottery tickets. And I’m sure he loses the tickets” he makes assumptions about how Emil behaves (114). Dave makes assumptions about how Emil behaves due to his prior experience and position in life. Dave may even have some ill assumptions about Emil because of this. When Dave noticed Emil standing near his shop, Dave says, “He’s driving away business” (109). Dave seems to be expressing disdain and derision for Emil, while Morley on the other hand, has a different take on the situation and instead asks “What’s his name?” which expresses a sort of interest in Emil (110). In this situation, Morley is showing a sort of compassion and empathy for Emil instead of Dave’s more brutish take on things. This happens again when Morley and Dave’s daughter Stephanie says “He’s retarded” in response to Emil’s idea of making a community garden. Stephanie’s comment doesn’t align with Morley’s empathetic side nor Dave’s patronizing take on Emil. Stephanie has her own experiences which propel her to making a contemptuous comment about Emil. All of this reinforces the idea that position and experience define how a person perceives the world around them. Everyone in the story takes in the events of the story in different ways and each have their own way of thinking.
When viewing Star Wars: A New Hope, I noticed that watching the movie through the gender lens provides the most depth and insight into the movie. I believe the gender lens is important because it displays how the paradigm of masculinity constricts men to behave adversely from their true inclinations. Throughout the film, we see countless examples of this sort of behaviour occurring either internally or externally. For example, we see how Luke only shows a split-second of remorse for his lost relatives before immediately steeling his resolve and following his sort of vow to bring R2-D2 to Princess Leia. Although he may be having an internal struggle full of remorse and grief for his lost family, it is suppressed by the idea of male strength which revolves around being strong and emotionless. This represents how men in the film are supposed to be strong, brutish, and have less of an emotional side compared to women. Another overlooked idea is how Han Solo is constantly condescending and snarky towards Princess Leia, yet when Luke and Han Solo are alone, Han Solo asks Luke if someone like him could ever get with her. This expresses how Han Solo is forced into maintaining the male stereotype façade around Princess Leia due to his fragile ego and state of mind. This also reveals that even though Han Solo doesn’t necessarily want to treat Princess Leia as cruelly as he did, he lacks much of a choice due to the pressure of the model of masculinity. This lens also helped me notice a subtle detail about how Darth Vader immediately attacked Obi-Wan when he discovered him instead of peacefully communicating at all. This shows that Darth Vader is strong, decisive, and radical which is a form of the perfect male stereotype. We also see how Darth Vader immediately tries to choke one of the Imperial Senate members after he teases and makes fun of him. This discovery further reinforces the masculine idea of decisiveness and strength. From this, we can see that male characters are forced into this sort of mold that they should follow in this film. The male characters are depicted as decisive, strong, and powerful with their only weakness being the strength of other men. My conclusion is that all the male characters in the film were created with this masculine mold in mind.