Pattern and image in the contemporary female Bildungsroman

Buckingham, Anne Marie (1987) Pattern and image in the contemporary female Bildungsroman. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine pattern and image in the contemporary female Bildungsroman and to discover the reasons for the presence of the images of in/visibility and space in the novels. These novels include Margaret Atwood's Lady Oracle (1976), Marilyn French's The Women's Room (1977), Doris Lessing's The Summer Before the Dark (1973), Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women (1971), Marge Piercey's Braided Lives (1981), and Verena Stefan's Shedding (1978). -- In/visibility and objectification in the contemporary female Bildungsroman is predicated on the role of the heroine in patriarchal society. These images have removed her from her essential self and it is necessary for her to confront her own conditioning which has espoused the perception of herself as "object" and Other, before she can even embark on her movement to Bildung, much less achieve it. This study probes the areas of the heroines' experience which have resulted in such alienation from self. -- Spatial imagery in these novels demonstrates that the heroines of contemporary female Bildungsromane are removed from self because they are not perceived as equal to men, and, further, are not viewed as active participants in their societies. Constriction exists at every level of growth - physical, emotional, intellectual and moral. Each protagonist is defined by her perceived role in society. In order for the heroine to begin her quest for identity, she must reclaim space that has been appropriated from her, and more importantly, proclaim that space valid. Positive images of space in the novels occur primarily when the heroine has reached Bildung; this space is a metaphor for the growth of self. -- Narrative and language are used by authors of contemporary female Bildungsromane to attempt to transcend the stifling and limited choices allowed their heroines. The subversion and violation of form and content in these novels indicate that, even as the heroines lead an oppressed existence, transition is imbedded in the text itself. The circularity of the text and feminist ideology serve as paradigms for the positive development that is taking place. The deconstruction and questioning of language that has oppressed women is another strategy that is used as narrative subversion in the novels. -- Finally, these novels indicate that the contemporary female Bildungsroman is a complicated sub-genre of the novel, one which stresses transition and change at every level. It succeeds in demonstrating a wider range of choices for heroines of contemporary novels, who work out their own individual definitions of Bildung.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7091
Item ID: 7091
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 132-136.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1987
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Bildungsroman; Women in literature

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