Gender studies is pervasive as it permeates all human endeavour. It is applicable to diverse areas of study such as literature, sociology, education and philosophy. This study, therefore, investigates the novels of Tony Ubesie with a view to giving insight on the representation of male and female characters’ gender identities, manifestation of power and dominance and how their representation reflect gender ideologies. It also looks at the role of discourse in the construction of gender identities. The study adopts Van Dijk’s model of Critical Discourse Analysis as its theoretical framework to scrutinize actions of characters in the novels in relation to their manifestation of power and dominance. From the findings, male characters are depicted as strong, fearless, benevolent and superior. Female characters manifest identities such as incompleteness, protective, caring and seductive. Neuter identities such as being materialistic, mercurial, promiscuous and domineering are also identified. It is found out that in the case of the neuter identities, one gender tends to have an upper hand than the other in the portrayal of such particular identity. Using the tenets of Critical Discourse Analysis, the study discovers that strategies such as intrigue, manipulative statements, threat, and series of questioning are avenues through which the dominant groups control the minds of the dominated group. The dominated group in return tries to resist such dominance through measures such as intrigue, exile, deception and telling lies. The study further observes that the female characters that rose to power in the narratives abused such power; and gender stereotypes are reinforced by the manifestation of a patriarchal ideology where power rests majorly on the male gender. The conclusion from the findings is that power and dominance in Ubesie’s novels are not static, but to a large extent, the male characters are portrayed to be more powerful and domineering than their female counterparts.



1.1         Background to the study

Gender is as old as man. It is highly embedded in every sphere of human endeavour, especially in conversations. Humans, through their desires, beliefs and actions represent gender, and, its existence in society. Gender refers to different socio-cultural constructed roles, attributes, privileges, responsibilities and expectations of the individuals in society. The notion of gender presents the male and female species as different from each other. In the human society, individuals are assigned to acceptable roles within the particular gender framework. The assigning of gender role to the individual members of society makes it impossible for man to move through life in a non gendered way. Also, it is impossible for man not to behave in a way that elicits gendered behaviours and attributes. Gender is indispensible, thus, something we cannot run away from because it is a way through which societies are ordered, with each society having its own system of ordering different from the other. This means that gender is a key component of human identity and it is geographical.

Human identities which include voice pitch; females tend to have soft voices than the males, body image and structure; males tend to be broad-shouldered, muscular and physically vigorous than the females among others. These attributes make the males to look and communicate differently from the females. Males are often portrayed as brave, reserve, confident, bold, dauntless, lionhearted and rational unlike the females that are read as weak, shy, straightforward, submissive, emotional and irrational. Again, the males are viewed to be more dominant than the females who are deviant and recessive. It is also worthy of note to state that the need of one gender differs from place to place, time to time, depending on how the particular society defines the need.

Furthermore, literature concerns itself with an artistic documentation and dissemination of the whole range of human, life, identities and roles in life. Using literature as an imaginative work of art, the literary artist mirrors societal beliefs and norms. In this direction, the artist tends to symbolise cultural notions of gender as an aspect of his artistic creations and this is where he creatively uses language. Language is an essential tool in literature because it is the medium through which the literary artist communicates his objectives for a better society. Through language, words are manipulated to create humour, pun and artistic beauty; images are created; suspense and intrigues are also imbued on the readers. In other words, language helps the literary artist to enact life.

In essence, literature portrays life and society to tell stories, which can be fictitious or non fictitious. This leaves the artist at the liberal use of imaginations to create stories alongside characters, who act out his innermost thoughts or pass across his message. Characters are persons represented in a narrative work, who can be interpreted to possess particular morals, intellectual and emotional qualities by what they say, what they do and what others say about them. Characterisation reveals a character’s identifying traits such as his morals, qualities and characteristics. It is worthy to note that the ways characters are portrayed in a story is of great essence owing to the fact that the traits associated with a particular character becomes identity or role generalisations afterwards and such a character will henceforth be seen from that specified angle. For example, the portrayal of a male character as a fearless, gallant, reserve, confident and rational being while the female character is seen as a weak, communicative, shy, submissive, poignant, and an irrational being. All these portrayals form the notion of gender attributes…….



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