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Gender roles within Tickets Please

Discusses the roles of men and women within the short story

The majority of countries around the world, certainly that of the so called Western countries, began life as strict patriarchal systems. However, all of this changed quite dramatically at the beginning of World War One, as the ratios between male and female populations shifted. It is in this era of dramatic social change that the short story ?Tickets, Please? by DH Lawrence is set. It is the story of ill-fated love between inspector and conductor in England?s Midland tramways, which ends only in violence, abuse and revenge. Yet, it is within this whirlpool of conflict that DH Lawrence poses some of his greatest questions of society. He challenges reader preconceptions about male and female roles by placing characters within a situation which challenges the certainty of even the anti-stereotype. This is done through exploring dominant gender stereotypes; the language employed by particular genders; the historical and social context; and the symbolism and effect of industrialisation.
As a remnant from patriarchal systems, many stereotypes have remained dominant even within today?s society. Readers are presented to a short story with certain preconceptions about male and female roles. What can make a story interesting is its ability to challenge these ideas. This is done in two main ways: the representation of reader preconceptions through the narrator and the contrast of these with those presented by actual protagonists. The narrator is used to position readers to empathise with certain events of the plot. The words ?At last he was down.? (p76) position readers to feel the struggle of the anti-stereotype. The narrator is also used to reflect any preconceptions about the relationships between men and women.
In this subtle antagonism they knew each other like old friends,
they were as shrewd with one another almost as man and wife.
(simile p68)
These stereotypes are further contrasted with others portrayed by individual characters. The stereotype of the passive female is challenged straight away with the positioning of women in key positions in the tram service as conductors. However, this is contradicted in the background of the story, by placing male characters above those females, either as drivers or inspectors. It is this fact of an underlying alternate stereotype which confuses the role of men and women in the text. The anti-stereotypical female is foregrounded, yet the stereotype is still present in the underlying meaning. This confusion is presented most thoroughly in the paragraph immediately succeeding that of John Thomas leaving Annie. Annie at first weeps for her lover, supporting the patriarchal stereotype, yet either through anti-stereotypical expectations on her character, or her own inexperience at power wielding, she challenges that stereotype by determining to seek revenge.
For a while she was staggered, and everything became uncertain to her.
Then she wept with fury, indignation, desolation and misery. (p71)
?. Then she determined to have her own back. (p72)
Through this quick juxta posing of stereotypical support and challenge, as well as the positioning of the reader through the narrator, Lawrence explores the confusion of quick stereotype adjustments within society. He challenges reader preconception about male and female roles by placing characters within a situation which challenges even the anti-stereotypes.
Within the short story ?Ticket?s, Please? different uses of language are also employed to show the differing male and female roles and expectations. Through language, reader?s are given insights into not only the feelings of the character (by using direct dialogue) but also the position of the author through the narrator?s description of certain parties. In the final scenes, not only does the narrator?s introduction foreshadow the forthcoming violent turn in events,
Outside was the dark and lawlessness of war-time. (p73)
but so does the dialogue produce various description?s of male and female preconceptions. John Thomas saying,
?Who handles the teapot??
Not only portrays his assertion of power (that they should be serving him) but also an understanding that it is the role of the female to provide food and water to males without being asked. As the scene continues, both tension and violence reach their utmost when male and female characters take on extremely similar roles. The female anti-stereotype,

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