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Readers/AdvisorsSchlesinger, Lee A.
Term and YearSpring 2020
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractThe subjects covered in this paper include: the societal perception of Heathcliff in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights and the label of “monster” assigned to him by the society within the novel. From there, this paper will discuss how Catherine is the only character who treats him with kindness and like a human being. The paper’s second primary source will be Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, which will focus on how Bertha was as a woman before she became a madwoman and how society viewed her. In this section of the paper, I will discuss Cohen’s fourth and sixth theses of monstrosity, respectively The Monster Dwells at the Gates of Difference and Fear of the Monster is Really a Kind of Desire. With these theses, I will discuss how both Bertha’s race and gender factor into her monstrosity and perception of her as a monster figure, as well as how the patriarchy constrains her and causes her to become mad as part of her escapism and desire to achieve freedom from the patriarchy. This project will also explore Bertha’s personality and characteristics and compare them to Heathcliff's personality and discuss Bertha's gender limitations and the formation of the Madwoman and monster character as a way to escape the confines of the Patriarchy. The project will also focus on a more modern interpretation of a female monster through the film adaptation of Stephen King’s Carrie, focusing mainly on menstruation and the “Female Body Horror” concept and fear surrounding female bodies. From there, I will discuss the character of Medea from Greek tragedies, exploring whether she is depicted as a villain or a heroine within and discuss how despite Medea’s powers and perseverance, in Cornielle’s version of the Medea character, she must ultimately still surrender to the patriarchy in order to achieve her freedom, signifying that Medea’s society is still predominantly a male-dominated one in spite of a strong female lead character. The paper’s third chapter will highlight the female villains of classic fairytales such as the evil stepmother in Snow White and discuss an alternate reading to her “villain” status while also comparing her to Bertha and her struggles with identity and fighting with both the good and evil parts of herself. This will be followed by the concept of “monstrous children” as depicted through Angela Carter’s twist on Caroll’s Alice In Wonderland with the creation of Wolf-Alice and how she chooses to embrace her monstrosity. Lewis Carroll’s Alice is also regarded as a “Fabulous Monster” by the creatures living in Wonderland. The project will also challenge the notion of a female villain within fairytales being completely “evil”. Is she evil or merely a grieving maternal figure? I will conclude with a brief overview of how the characters I have chosen overlap and blend with their monstrosity before moving to a more general view of how monstrosity behaves in literature. I will also discuss how to be monstrous is to be human and how everyone (fictional character or real-life human being) has a darker side and having that angrier, more sinister side is part of what makes us all human.