Telling tales about our selves : the integration of identity as a narrative strategy in selected examples of women's writing

Muzychka, Martha (1994) Telling tales about our selves : the integration of identity as a narrative strategy in selected examples of women's writing. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The question of women's identity is a critical question in feminist literary theory. Two streams of thought which emerge focus on identity as separations between selves or separations between self and understanding. Careful study shows that both streams have their advantages and disadvantages; both conclude that the influence of patriarchal values on women's roles in society separates and isolates women from themselves and each other. Critical theory also suggests that this patriarchal influence contributes to women's dissatisfaction with the self by making them mad or ill; alternatively, these feelings of illness and madness are also signs that women's sense of self is threatened, that the boundaries protecting the integrity of the self have been breached by impossible expectations and conditions for womanhood. Helene Cixous and her theory of "l'ecriture feminine" and the writing of the body suggest the reclamation of voice, body, desire and feeling is the route to self affirmation and determination. In some women's writing, this process of awareness, rejection and affirmation can be depicted by narrative strategies which emphasize the fragmentation and silencing of women, and which reflect the positive results of giving birth to the self on one's own terms. The books examined in this thesis are Mrs. Dalloway (1925), Virginia Woolf's fourth novel, a modernist examination of the intersection of memory, self and identity; Down Among The Women (1971), in which Fay Weldon presents a provocative, confrontational view of women's experiences in post-WWII London, rooted from the point of view of early-1970s feminism; and Cat's Eye (1988), in which Margaret Atwood invests her writing with an awareness of such contemporary issues as personal growth, self-awareness and the philosophy that the personal is political. In addition to a consideration of the major themes of these novels, an examination of a recent autobiography: Sylvia Fraser's My Father's House: A Memoir of Incest and Healing (1987) is included. This memoir, which employs novelistic techniques to describe integration of selves, is a companion to the novels above and underscores the concept of "double-voiced" writing found in much writing by women.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7479
Item ID: 7479
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [155]-164.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1994
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Atwood, Margaret Eleanor, 1939- Cat's eye; Fraser, Sylvia. My father's house; Weldon, Fay. Down among the women; Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941. Mrs. Dalloway; Identity (Psychology) in literature; Feminist literary criticism

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