Women in "absalom, absalom" by faulkner willliam

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  • Publié le : 23 septembre 2010
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THE REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN IN ABSALOM, ABSALOM ! 1 - Ghostly and Fantastic figures: identities in crisis ⇒ What is particularly striking in AA is that he stereotype of the Southern Belle* is subverted and that women are given other characteristics than those usually attributed to the Southern Belle : culture, conversation skills, charm, beauty, good manners, naivety, chastity, humility, but alsoseducing skills. At some point, Ellen Sutpen could match the Southern Belle description, but she is definitely not shown, nor depicted as such. 68, 3 “So the natural thing would have been for her to go out and live with Judith, the natural thing for her or any southern woman, gentlewoman” (…) 68 “but she didn’t”. The quote points out that not only Miss rosa didn’t enter the Southern Belle scheme,but that her natural instincts, her identity as a woman have been perverted. ⇒ As a matter of fact, even if women might not appear as main characters, the most important ones (Ellen, Judith, Clytie, Rosa) reflect complexity in treatment, as we experience different types of women that shed light on different aspects of the novel and have different roles. They are in fact hints, all in their ownmanner they are hints to the decay of the South. ⇒ In AA, two worlds are depicted, two worlds that co-exist, or rather one world that dominates and crushes the other. On the one side, that of men (which is reality, with specific codes of honour, specific values…), and on the other side, that of women (which is beyond reality, which appears as a shelter from the harsh reality of men’s world). Thediscrepancy, in values, in codes, and in morals between those two worlds makes them irreconcilable. When Ellen runs towards Thomas who’s committed into a violent fight with his slaves, and sees her children around, she gets angry and Thomas puts an end to the argument by saying “I don’t expect you to understand it, because you are a woman”, 21, I ⇒ Hence, their reclusion in worlds of fantasy, becausereality as it is imposed on them is too much to handle. “Ellen was not VISIBLE (she seemed to have retired to the darkened room which she was not to quit until she died”, 62, III. It is true that they are never the agents of the tragedies they suffer, men always are, I quote “Years ago we in the south made our women into ladies. Then the War came and made the ladies into ghosts”, 7, I. By thenoun subject “war’, you must understand “men” who precipitated female disembodiment by committing the South into a particularly difficult and demanding conflict, which necessitated women to put aside the only identity they knew and their values in order to survive. The reclusion is physical, here and is emphasized by the “not visible” which is really strong and gives the impression that Ellen isliterally physically absent from the world. The reason for such isolation is explained further down “the mother was prostrate (…) at the shock of REALITY entering her life”, 62, III. The shock was Henry repudiating his father and his birthright and fleeing the house with Bon. ⇒ The worlds in which they live are depicted as worlds of fantasy, and they as fairy tale figures, even mythical figures thatare imprisoned by men “(Ellen) who before I was born had vanished into the stronghold of an ogre or a djinn”, and further down “the world she had quitted”, 16, I ⇒ Furthermore, it seemed to us that they are closely associated with the earth, with the soil, and they might in the end be apprehended as chthonian figures as they also carry with them a death-in-life characteristic, I quote, “We nowexisted in

an apathy which was almost peace, like that of the blind unsentient earth itself which dreams after no flower’s stalk nor bud, envies not the airy musical solitude of the springing leaves it nourishes”, 124, V. This isolation from the world confers them a fragility that is to be seen in what they can’t hide, that is their physical appearance. At the...
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