Journey towards the (m)other : myth, origins and the daughter's desires in the fiction of Angela Carter
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This study examines Angela Carter’s demythologising of origin myths and will investigate the extent to which her fictions offer viable alternatives that allow for productive representations of women and gender relations outside patriarchal paradigms. In the first half of the thesis (Chapters 1-3), I will primarily focus on how several of Carter’s earlier texts deconstruct existing mythical spaces, particularly the biblical creation story in Genesis. The Genesis myth is central to socio-historical constructions of gendered identities, and in itself, central to Carter’s imagination. She repeatedly returns to this myth in her challenging of the ways in which patriarchal narratives construct violent relations between self and other, specifically where ‘woman’ is situated as the repressed other of male desires and fears. Alongside her demythologising of Genesis, Carter deconstructs Freudian myths of sexual maturation, exposing where these also set up a relationship of antagonism or enmity between the sexes. Although Chapter One will explore how Carter attempts to revise these origin myths from a positive stance, Two and Three will focus on the inherent difficulties faced by the female subject in her struggle against patriarchal myths and their violent oppression of female autonomy. The second half of the thesis (Chapters 4-6) will shift to an investigation of how Carter’s later texts set up both possibilities and challenges for women when attempting to construct their own narratives of origin. Through her problematising of matriarchal myths and feminist fantasies of self-creation, Carter emphasises the need for confronting limitations rather than celebrating transgressions as entirely liberating. The thesis will conclude, however, with an examination of where Carter’s own attempts at remythologising opens up an alternative space, or ‘elsewhere’, of feminine desires that allows for a refiguring of the female subject as well as more reciprocal relations between the sexes.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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