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Titill

Gender Anxiety and Identity Crisis: The Significance of Metamorphosis in Angela Carter's The Passion of New Eve

Útdráttur

This essay explores the postmodern science fiction novel The Passion of New Eve (1977), by contemporary novelist Angela Carter, within the context of metamorphosis in relation to gender anxiety and identity crisis. The novel can be defined as a highly political feminist debate on the social constructions of power, femininity and gender roles, questioning the general preconceptions society has concerning the correspondence between sex and gender. The author employs various literary tenets and elements to the narrative in order to deconstruct the characters and the gender roles assigned to them — such as mythology, religion, psychoanalysis, philosophy, symbolism, dualism and allegory. The essay is divided into two parts: the first part deals with how the ideology of metamorphosis is depicted through sex and symbolism, and the latter part deals with metamorphosis depicted through mythology.
In the former part of the essay, the character of the protagonist, Evelyn, is deconstructed, revealing his presupposed innate sense of power which derives from his biological sex (relating to gender roles and the patriarchal society); the function of mirrors is explored concerning self identification; the symbolic power of the Phallus is examined and questioned, by means of applying Lacanian theory concerning the “mirror-stage,” the Imaginary, and the Symbolic. The reversal of gender roles is made evident, as women are empowered – depicted as strong and aggressive – and the theme of duality is examined, through depictions of the womb vs. the desert, and how these concepts come to symbolise the internal character.
The latter part deals with the way metamorphosis is portrayed, mainly by means of mythology. Various socially constructed characters are examined, such as the phallic-fixated matriarch, the sadomachistic patriarch, the androgyneous icon, the femme fatale and the merciful goddess. These characters are deconstructed and their individuality is put to question in relation to their assigned gender roles and the function assigned to them in the novel.

Birting
30.5.2009


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