On the periphery: the female marginalized in five post-colonial novels

Manuel, Katrina (1997) On the periphery: the female marginalized in five post-colonial novels. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

Women in colonized societies are often marginalized not only because of their race, but also because of their gender. Their experience of domination in a patriarchal system makes finding their own place in society and their own identity extraordinarily difficult. It is imperative to acknowledge that women across the globe and across cultures experience denial of personal development, denial of educational development, and also denial of voice. Although females’ ethnic background may vary significantly, the experience of marginalization remains the same. A feminist perspective, then, is critical in exploring post-colonial literature so that we may be better able to understand the position of women as marginalized individuals. Females conveying female experiences in their own discourse allows us to perceive the impediments and burdens that colonizers and the patriarchy have imposed upon them in addition to recognizing the strengths that they have had to develop in order to cope with their marginalized position in society. Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye, Anita Desai’s Fire on the Mountain and In Custody, Paule Marshall’s Brown Girl, Brownstones, and Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea show the plight of marginalized women in addition to providing rich texts which address a number of pertinent and pressing issues. These texts illustrate females’ search for identity, demonstrating how their ethnic backgrounds and gender have forced them into lifestyles which perhaps they would not have personally chosen, and they also show a desire for survival within male-dominated and colonized societies. -- A culture or individual that has been affected by colonization must deal with a tremendous amount of tension and urgency even after the colonizers have withdrawn from the society, since the impact of colonization remains. One ongoing debate that exists within the parameters of post-colonial literature is whether one can return to a pure, pre-colonial state. The degree to which a person or society can restore its own culture after the imposition of the colonizer’s is a critical issue that will be addressed in addition to the equally important issue of recovering (if this is indeed possible) the lost voice of the female colonized. Furthermore, tracing the self-perception of the female protagonists from the outset of each novel to the end sheds light upon the impact of the patriarchy and of the colonizers. Above all, analyzing the growth of the female characters also indicates the extent to which healing and recovering from the colonial imposition has occurred.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7097
Item ID: 7097
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [105]-114.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: February 1997
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Atwood, Margaret Eleanor, 1939-. Cat's eye; Desai, Anita, 1937-. In custody; Desai, Anita, 1937-. Fire on the mountain; Marshall, Paule, 1929-. Brown girl, brownstones; Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea; Marginality, Social, in literature; Women in literature

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