Exploring the ideological systems that limit Western women's creation of identity, with reference to Angela Carter's The Passion of New Eve (1977) and Kathy Acker's Don Quixote (1986)
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This dissertation explores the ideological systems that limit Western women’s creation of identity. This exploration will be carried out through Angela Carter’s The Passion of New Eve (1977) and Kathy Acker’s Don Quixote (1986); samples of feminist discourse concerned with female struggles of representation. The term ‘ideological systems’ is used to describe the socio-cultural structures (born of patriarchal desire) that work to contain female identity. The work of Judith Butler, discussed in conjunction with both novels, will be considered as formative in demonstrating how identity is not founded, but rather, naturally inclined towards heterogeneity. Chapter one explores the ideological systems presented in The Passion of New Eve (Carter, 1977), focusing on the media and language. Discernable within cinema and pornography, the media is shown to negatively affect female appearances and selfperception. Binary ideology is shown to be the motivation behind these representations, which assert that woman is passive, thence trapping her to the confines a solitary, unifying discourse. The construction of language is discussed with reference to narrative structure and the motif of the female mouth, exploring how language’s patriarchal function denies female representation. Chapter two examines the ideological systems presented in Don Quixote (Acker, 1986), focusing on capitalism, prescribed heterosexuality, and language. The novel demonstrates the view that women can only avoid ideological systems by completely evading society and entering a nomadic realm. Adverse to conformity and the homogeneous identities ideological systems impel, the protagonist explores means of transgression such as masochism and gender-ambiguity. Language is likewise presented as a serious impediment to female assertion, as it refuses the articulation of female desire. Overall, this dissertation demonstrates how ideological systems work to limit women’s autonomy by confining them within representations that are fixed. Both novels endeavour to undermine this notion by presenting female identity as multifaceted.
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