Is Esk an Activist?

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Is Esk an Activist?

Postby Tenthegg » Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:18 pm

The Discworld book 'Equal Rites' has often been referred to as having the central theme of female equality , with one of its main protaganists Esk challenging a world where women can't be wizards.

So is Esk an activist?
is pratchett trying to say someting about inequality and hierarchy in 'Equal Rites'?
Do you think these themes of activism come up in any other of the Discworld novels?
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Re: Is Esk an Activist?

Postby Tenthegg » Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:25 pm

by the way, I'm doing a dissertation on citizenship in the Discworld. Any posts may be used as research results in my dissertation but names and any other personal information that happens to come up will of course be kept anonymous.
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Re: Is Esk an Activist?

Postby Tonyblack » Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:51 pm

Interestingly enough, Terry was invited on Radio 4's 'Women's Hour' after Equal Rites was published.

I think it's more than a book about equality, it's also about gender differences, such as the way women do things compared to the way men do them.

You may find the Equal Rites Discussion useful. :)
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Re: Is Esk an Activist?

Postby Tenthegg » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:27 pm

Yes, I was reading about him being on 'Women's Hour' in a dissertation about the Witches in the Discworld called 'Which, Witch is Which?'.

I suppose what I was really trying to find out is if Activism is a theme that runs through Pratchett's work. It is pretty clearly in 'Night Watch' and in 'Equal Rites' but I wondered if it was something Terry had a wider tendancy to write into his Discworld novels.

Thanks for linking me to the Equal Rites discussion I'll have a look through that, cheers.
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Re: Is Esk an Activist?

Postby raptornx01 » Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:49 pm

I'll have to go through it again, but i never saw her as an activist. as she never really seemed to actively fight against the system. she just did her business and ended up involved in things (like alot of his characters).
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Re: Is Esk an Activist?

Postby Ziriath » Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:59 pm

Too bad Esk did not know about the wizardry school on Krull.
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Re: Is Esk an Activist?

Postby Tonyblack » Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:11 pm

I've always thought there was a certain amount of gender uncertainty in the book. Esk is clearly a girl, but she's been given the staff which has male connotations. She's a girl with a boy bit. She can't be a witch because he magic is too masculine and she can't be a wizard because they see her as female. So she's in a sort of limbo state. She has the power to be wizard and cannot understand why she shouldn't be one.

Add to this the references to puberty and sexual confusion there and it makes things even more complicated for her.

As an example of wizard versus witch magic, take a look at the magical duel between Cutangle and Granny. On the face of it, it seems quite aggressive, but it's only really aggressive from the male side. Every time Cutangle produces something vicious, Granny counters it with something that tames it without aggression. It's more of a battle of the sexes than a battle of magic. :)
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Re: Is Esk an Activist?

Postby raptornx01 » Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:25 pm

I saw her as having alot of potential. a wizard trained as witch, having the ability to use both power sets. They never said there was any reason why you COULDN'T do it.

Add to this the references to puberty and sexual confusion there and it makes things even more complicated for her.


Lol, reminds me of the Slayers series and Lina not being able to use magic cause it was "That time of the month" :lol:
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Re: Is Esk an Activist?

Postby Tonyblack » Tue Mar 20, 2012 7:29 pm

The post-coital cigarette that Granny and Cutangle shared after the magical duel did make me chuckle. :lol:
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Re: Is Esk an Activist?

Postby author3 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:59 pm

I read Equal Rites quite recently and I definetly did not see Esk as an activist.She's just a little girl who happened to make a big difference well at least that's how I saw her.
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Re: Is Esk an Activist?

Postby Cool Middle Name » Wed Mar 21, 2012 10:58 pm

It's more Granny than anyone with the activist attitude and even hers is reluctant.
But the book is supposed to represent inequality (like most of Pratchett's books) so it doesn't need an activist to boost it.
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Re: Is Esk an Activist?

Postby TimBou » Sat Mar 24, 2012 11:10 am

Tenthegg wrote:
I suppose what I was really trying to find out is if Activism is a theme that runs through Pratchett's work. It is pretty clearly in 'Night Watch' and in 'Equal Rites' but I wondered if it was something Terry had a wider tendancy to write into his Discworld novels.



I think a fair case could be made for it being a recurring theme...

Some examples that come two mind...
Campaign for equal heights for dwarves (see e.g. Feet of Clay)
Adora Belle Dearheart works for the Golem Trust (see Going Postal and Making Money)
Fresh Start Club for undead run by Reg Shoe (see Reaper Man)
Uberwald League of Temperance is a self-help group for vampires (see e.g. The Truth, Thud!, Monstrous Regiment)
The Silicon Anti-Defamation League for trolls (see Feet of Clay)
I'm sure there are more...
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Re: Is Esk an Activist?

Postby cabbagehead » Sat Mar 24, 2012 3:33 pm

Pratchett makes fun of activism by outsiders - the dwarfs (they are only dwarves in Equal Rights, the rest of the time they are dwarfs) have no use for the Society for Equal Heights. It is a silly organization of human do-gooders. The dwarfs get better treatment for themselves by becoming a significant part of the Ankh Morpork economy, by entering the guilds (and probably by being the power behind the press). Even the dwarf-feminist movement is a quiet campaign of individual dwarfs deciding to present as openly feminine.

And the Silicon Anti-Defemation League is a cover for troll organized crime.

The Ankh Morpork version of the vampire temperance league is an outlet for Doreen Winkings ambition to become more posh through her husband's vampirism.
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Re: Is Esk an Activist?

Postby Tenthegg » Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:11 am

Thanks everyone for your ideas, It's definately been useful for my work.
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