Representations of the Female in Fantasy Literature
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This dissertation explores selected representations of the female within the writing of J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and Ursula K. Le Guin. Conducting a feminist approach to the literature, analysis will consult with theoretical work from Brian Attebery (1992) and Julia Kristeva (, 1982) in order to determine the possible connotations held within the female characters depicted in the aforementioned fantasy series. Chapter One’s argument will suggest how J. R. R. Tolkien’s depictions of the female may conceal more power than would be revealed from a surface reading of the trilogy. A representation of the monstrous female and her possession of power will also be considered in light of female abjection theory from Julia Kristeva. Chapter Two determines the ways in which C. S. Lewis’s personal beliefs concerning the ‘coming of age’ of the female alter the perception of such infamous fantasy figures as Lucy and Susan Pevensie. The role of the White Witch will also be explored within analysis of the abject female. Chapter Three considers the revolutionary feminist changes undergone within Ursula K. Le Guin’s previously masculine fantasy world. The character of Therru will also be investigated in relation to Kristeva’s theory of abjection. Just as personal opinions change and adapt with time, this dissertation argues that perceptions of the female within fantasy literature can also be seen to evolve. This study concludes that through the examination of these differing fantasy series, the contemporary reader is able to view the progression of the fantasy genre within current decades.
BA (Hons) English and Drama
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