Presentation Title

"There Was That in Her Face and Form which Made Him Loathe the Sight of Her": Disfiguration of Female Characters in Female Literature

Location

Room 2908

Session Format

Paper Presentation

Research Area Topic:

Humanities & Social Sciences - Literature & Philosophy

Co-Presenters, Co- Authors, Co-Researchers, Mentors, or Faculty Advisors

Dr. Caren Town - Faculty Advisor

Abstract

Throughout history, female authors have been met with resistance from the male dominated literary society. Many female authors were forced to write under a male pen name, but they tended to be the lucky ones – most female authors were unable to find publication in any sector. Women were meant to remain in their “place” as dictated by society and embody that “perfect image” that is depicted by male authors. This “perfect image” results in a crippling oppression that forced women writers to maintain the stereotypes and reflect the image that was desired.

Early authors, such as Marie de France who was writing in the 12th century, use the disfiguration of female characters a way to reaffirm the stereotypical position of women. The female character in the story tries to assert her own independence in the male dominated society and is punished through disfiguration – demonstrating that women should remain in their place and maintain that “perfect image” but physically and socially. Later authors, such as Rebecca Harding Davis and Sarah Orne Jewett attempt to embody the ugly and crippling oppression that women face(d) through the portrayals of disfigured female contrasted with successful women.. As women writers progressed in the literary field, the disfigured characters transformed not only in the severity of their deformations, but also in the messages they are meant to deliver to the audience. These different disfigured female characters throughout female literature are meant to contrast the old woman, or the disfiguration through punishment, with the new, successful women who need to acknowledg that disfigured women still remain under certain oppressions, demonstrating that there are still strides to be made in female progression in literature and society.

Keywords

Women studies, Gender studies, Literature by women

Presentation Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

Start Date

4-24-2015 9:30 AM

End Date

4-24-2015 10:30 AM

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Apr 24th, 9:30 AM Apr 24th, 10:30 AM

"There Was That in Her Face and Form which Made Him Loathe the Sight of Her": Disfiguration of Female Characters in Female Literature

Room 2908

Throughout history, female authors have been met with resistance from the male dominated literary society. Many female authors were forced to write under a male pen name, but they tended to be the lucky ones – most female authors were unable to find publication in any sector. Women were meant to remain in their “place” as dictated by society and embody that “perfect image” that is depicted by male authors. This “perfect image” results in a crippling oppression that forced women writers to maintain the stereotypes and reflect the image that was desired.

Early authors, such as Marie de France who was writing in the 12th century, use the disfiguration of female characters a way to reaffirm the stereotypical position of women. The female character in the story tries to assert her own independence in the male dominated society and is punished through disfiguration – demonstrating that women should remain in their place and maintain that “perfect image” but physically and socially. Later authors, such as Rebecca Harding Davis and Sarah Orne Jewett attempt to embody the ugly and crippling oppression that women face(d) through the portrayals of disfigured female contrasted with successful women.. As women writers progressed in the literary field, the disfigured characters transformed not only in the severity of their deformations, but also in the messages they are meant to deliver to the audience. These different disfigured female characters throughout female literature are meant to contrast the old woman, or the disfiguration through punishment, with the new, successful women who need to acknowledg that disfigured women still remain under certain oppressions, demonstrating that there are still strides to be made in female progression in literature and society.