O is for Oppression | #AtoZChallenge

Oppression is the “prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control.”

It can be a physical “state of being subject to unjust treatment and control” or “mental pressure or distress” (Google dictionary, Oxford dictionary).

Often when we think of oppression and oppressed people, we think of political, religious, racial, gender, or sexual orientation injustices.

Yet oppression can be far more subtle, ignoring gender and colour and country. Life and literature tell stories of persons oppressed by society’s values, children oppressed by parental expectations, and souls oppressed by memories.


  • Stand by Me, Lion King, Dead Poet’s Society (See an explanation in my long comment below in Responses.)
  • Phantom (the poem in the post K is for Killing)
  • Beyond the Precipice (the novel, in which oppression by society’s values, parental expectations, and unresolved grief and guilt are explored.)

This picture of physical oppression is also a metaphor for emotional and mental oppression.

All the posts: Components of Literature A to Z

About Eva Blaskovic

I am a multi-genre author of literary fiction, fantasy, and paranormal, and writer of non-fiction articles on parenting, writing, education, health, and travel. My background encompasses both the sciences and the arts. I teach at a specialized clinic for learning disorders and mentor young authors. In addition to writing and teaching, my passions are weather, Indian food, gardening, and music. I have played eight musical instruments and spent many years immersed in taekwondo and karate. In my youth, I was an avid canoeist. I was born in Prague, Czech Republic, grew up in the Great Lakes region of Ontario, Canada, and moved to Alberta in 1988, where I raised four children.
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9 Responses to O is for Oppression | #AtoZChallenge

  1. Pingback: Theme Reveal: Blogging from A to Z Challenge (April 2017) | Beyond the Precipice

  2. Oppression is something which I dont prefer to read.. πŸ™‚ I mean too much of it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blatant oppression like slavery or racial is sad because mankind should be better than that.

      Subtle oppression is interesting for its psychology. Many people were inadvertently oppressed to some degree as kids (especially my generation and before) by people who believed they were doing the best for them, or were adhering to cultural or familial standards. Often, these kids figured things out at some point in adulthood, but they’d lost valuable time and opportunity. Think STAND BY ME — the treatment of the protagonist by the father and the town versus the admiration toward his older brother. Or, even more obvious — DEAD POETS SOCIETY, where the oppressors are the father and the school. In LION KING, you have Simba’s guilt and Scar swooping in to manipulate him (for his own gain to become king). Simba leaves (he doesn’t have much choice as a kid), but sets things right as an adult.

      These stories show person-to-person dynamics and conflict as well as internal conflict within a character. A lot of human psychology is involved. As a reader gains more life experience, he appreciates additional layers in these stories.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. JJAzar says:

    I’ve written essays on oppression. It’s a construct which resonates with me. I won’t get started, otherwise this comment will take up the page, but it is something that ought to be explored in novels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m going to do another oppression post in the future and expand on it. When people hear the term “oppression,” very specific things come to mind — typically things from the news or current events in our world. There’s so much more to it.

      When you say “ought to be explored in novels,” I find it is, but it comes in the form of WWII or The Breadwinner (Deborah Ellis). Excellent topics, of course, but I focus on more subtle, close-to-home or within-the-home oppression or suppression in my novel, which is perhaps more widespread, yet less understood by those who have not experienced or observed it first hand.

      Liked by 1 person

      • JJAzar says:

        Smaller-scale, personal instances of oppression ought to be explored as well! Good on you for featuring that aspect of the dynamic.


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