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Authors: Ringo, Rano
Issue Date: 2007
Abstract: Margaret Laurence (1926-1987) is a renowned Canadian author. She made a lasting contribution to Canadian literature, and won several awards for literature such as the Beta Sigma Phi Award and two Governor General's Awards. Her stay in England, Somaliland and Ghana before her final settlement in Lakefield, Ontario enriched her experiences in life. From those experiences issued some ofCanada's best-known novels: This Side Jordan (1960), The Stone Angel (1964), A Jest of God (1966), The Fire Dwellers (1969) and The Diviners (1974). Laurence's novels have some autobiographical strains, and primarily deal with the lives of women. Her other works include translations of Somali folktales and poetry, A Tree for Poverty (1954), a collection of short stories, The Tomorrow Tamer (1963), a travel memoir, The Prophet's Camel Bell (1963), a critical study ofNigerian literature, Long Drums and Cannons: Nigerian Dramatists and Novelists 1952-1956 (1968) and a collection of short stories/4 Bird in the House (1970). Margaret Laurence's novels were written at a time when the postfeminist concepts were not in vogue. The study aims to analyze the extent to which Margaret Laurence succeeded in anticipating postfeminism in her novels. Postfeminism was born out of feminism's intersection with such anti-foundationalist movements as postmodernism and postcolonialism. Postfeminism patriarchal oppression, but does not accept men as the norms. It suggests that in the pursuit ofequality with men, feminists have neglected the issue of female difference. Postfeminism believes that the fact that women are different from men cannot be ignored. However, instead of viewing this difference as an impediment, it considers it in positive terms. Postfeminism believes in celebrating womanhood, and revels in being different from men. It does not take an antagonistic attitude towards men, and believes that men have been as much victimized by the patriarchal structure as women. It advocates the importance of educating men to sensitize them to the needs of women. Postfeminism is also sensitive towards the differences that exist among women on the basis of race and class. It is of the view that white middle-class heterosexual women cannot claim to speak on behalf of all women since they enjoy a more privileged status in the society. Female writing is also envisioned by postfeminists as a way of re-establishing a spontaneous relationship to the physical jouissance of the female body. Laurence's novels portray the struggle of women to survive in a male-dominated society on their terms. In her novels, Laurence highlights the need for women to stay connected with the feminine aspects of their selves. She sees the assertion of womanhood as vital to the inner progress of her protagonists. Laurence's female protagonists do not bow to the pressures of the patriarchal society they live in. At the same time, they do not divorce themselves from their innate femininity. In her novels Laurence suggestively delineates the idea that a world based on female ethos can provide a positive solution to the ills of the patriarchal world. Laurence has also stressed on the need for women to be more confident about expressing their sexuality. Her protagonists overcome their inhibitions to frankly acknowledge their physical needs. The male characters have also been treated in a sympathetic manner by Laurence. In her novels, they are shown as victims of a social structure that has conditioned them into glorifying such traits as violence and war as masculine. Those who resist such traits do not find an easy acceptance in the society. Motherhood is another important postfeminist trait that emerges in the writings of VI Margaret Laurence. Her protagonists experience motherhood as a form of pleasure. Neither do they allow their mothering experience to be dictated by the patriarchal structure, nor do they view it as an impediment on their path of self-development. They view it as a beautiful experience to be cherished. Postfeminism also upholds the need to lay stress on such feminine faculties as intuition and spontaneity. Laurence also advocates the urgency of the dissolution of binaries. The division of the world into two hostile opposites such as masculine/feminine is depicted as being averse to the progress of women. The female protagonists in the novels of Margaret Laurence attempt to overcome a repressive social set-up based on binary opposites in order to find their true identity. In some of her novels, Laurence has also portrayed the manner in which differences among women on the basis of race and class come in the way of female bonding and autonomous selfhood. Shediscusses how such differences are abetted by the patriarchal oppression that women have to face. Laurence has also expressed the need for women to assume the subject position by writing and emphasized the need to voice the feminine concerns. Thus, in her novels, Laurence has successfully anticipated several postfeminist trends.
Other Identifiers: Ph.D
Appears in Collections:DOCTORAL THESES (HSS)

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