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Author Tyler, Lisa Lynne
Title Our mothers' gardens: Mother-daughter relationships and myth in twentieth century British women's literature
Descript 191 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 52-11, Section: A, page: 3944
Adviser: Katherine H. Burkman
Thesis (Ph.D.)--The Ohio State University, 1991
Several twentieth-century British women writers have adopted and adapted the ancient Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone to articulate the relationship a daughter can have with her mother. In writing of mother-daughter relationships, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Virginia Woolf, Enid Bagnold, and Doris Lessing use garden imagery and the seasonal cycle to link their stories to archetypal mythologies of women's experience
Like the myth, works by these authors identify three passages in mother-daughter relationships--symbiosis, separation/hostility, and reunion/rapprochement--where Freud outlines only two: the initial preoedipal symbiosis, and the later hostility and estrangement that occur when the daughter discovers that both she and her mother are "castrated" and therefore lesser human beings
These works, like the myth, celebrate a mother-daughter closeness that excludes and thus perhaps threatens men, who in turn intrude to break that bond with a violence that the daughters experience as rape. In these works, the mother-daughter relationship is extraordinarily powerful for women and remains powerful for women long after the daughter reaches adolescence
Each chapter examines the ways in which the myth informs and structures the work of a different author. The first chapter focuses on Frances Hodgson Burnett's children's classic, The Secret Garden; the second examines Enid Bagnold's The Chalk Garden. Three of Doris Lessing's short stories--"The De Wets Come to Kloof Grange," "Flavours of Exile," and "Among the Roses"--are discussed in the third chapter. Finally, the fourth chapter focuses on Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs. Dalloway
Examined chronologically, the works analyzed in this study present a chilling loss of faith in maternal power. In part, the dwindling efficacy of mothers and their gardens indicates a growing awareness of sexual politics; given such an awareness, mother-daughter repetition and identification become less appealing. It is here that the Demeter myth becomes most applicable, for it details the love mother and daughter share while simultaneously pointing out the limited power of the mother to help the daughter. Women writers using the myth have both rejoiced in the power she does wield and mourned her inability to do more
School code: 0168
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 52-11A
Subject Literature, Modern
Literature, African
Women's Studies
Literature, English
Alt Author The Ohio State University
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