Tale and myth have a long history of reinforcing, commenting on, and often subverting the ideologies at work in the society where the stories are being told. This research explores the ways three American novels, Eudora Welty’s The Robber Bridegroom, Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, all incorporate variants of the fairytale Bluebeard: a fairytale which centers on domestic trauma. All three novels also re-vocalize the myth of Demeter and Persephone, and this re-vocalization serves to empower the female characters and subvert the dominant patriarchal paradigm. The subversion of white masculine ideology in these novels reflects a changing social structure during the thirty year span in which these three novels were published. Looking at the texts holistically while considering the ways the tale and myth interweave in each offers insight into the way these social changes for women were being narrated and explored. The question of interpretation is central to this research, which explores both feminine and masculine lenses in story. Particularly the ways a woman’s sexual agency, decision not to marry, or even inability to escape are narrated and interpreted by the community around her. These fictional communities and the issues explored in the realm of tale reflect the larger society and ideological currents surrounding novels themselves. All three novels incorporate the Bluebeard tale, reject the masculine reading of women in that tale, and work to subvert not just patriarchal ideology but the flat literary trope and ways of writing and reading women.
|Commitee:||Ingram, Shelley, Wilson, Mary A.|
|School:||University of Louisiana at Lafayette|
|School Location:||United States -- Louisiana|
|Source:||MAI 56/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||American literature, Gender studies|
|Keywords:||Bluebeard, Fairy tale, Jackson, Shirley, Morrison, Toni, Myths, Welty, Eudora|
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