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Comparing Female Identity in To The Lighthouse, Heat of the Day and Under the Net

Female Identity in Virginia Woolf’s, To The Lighthouse, Elizabeth Bowen’s, Heat of the Day and Iris Murdoch’s, Under the Net

After reading Virginia Woolf’s, “To The Lighthouse”, readers are left with the disturbing reality of the role of a woman during this time period. The characters of Mrs. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe portray these demeaning roles. However, instead of completely giving in to the domination of men, they are starting the woman’s movement of resistance in the period of the beginning of World War I.

Likewise, in Elizabeth Bowen’s novel, “The Heat of the Day”, different female roles emerge from the characters which help present change in the identity of women and power. The two main female characters, Stella Rodney and Louie Lewis, among others in this World War Two time-framed novel, carry working class jobs. They are starting to change the stereotypical views of women just being housewives and serving their “husbands”. These characters allow readers to plainly see that women are capable of and deserve equality on the same level as men.

This essentially paves the road to other novels of this time after World War II, such as Iris Murdoch’s, “Under the Net”. In this novel women are starting to receive respect for their positions in the world. Men are recognizing their significant value in society. This can be seen by the relationship between the characters of Jake Donaghue and Anna Quentin.

Victoria Glendinning further exemplifies the correlation between these 20th Century novels. She is a contemporary fiction writer and biographer of Bowen, Rebecca West, and Trollope, among others. Glendinning states that, “She [Bowen] is a major writer…She is what happened after Bloomsbury…the link that connects Virginia Woolf with Iris Murdoch and Mrielk Spark”.

These highly regarded and well-respected female authors are showing that women can and do hold power in our society. These authors send the message to readers that women throughout time have been and still are fully capable of thinking for themselves. They can hold their own ground without having to subject themselves to the dominance of the males, be it in writing novels, raising a family, working in a factory, or pursuing a singing career. Thus, they as all women, deserve to be held in respect for their achievements and deserve equality.

In reference to Virginia Woolf’s novel, “To The Lighthouse” she takes the major female characters of Mrs.

Comparing Fuentes’ Aura and Ligotti’s The Last Feast of Harlequin

Mythological and Archetypal Reading of Fuentes’ Aura and Ligotti’s The Last Feast of Harlequin

Mythological and archetypal techniques coupled with the interpretation of symbolism found within a piece of literature tells the reader something about the mind and character of a people or culture. Not only does it allow you to delve deeper into this collective mind and speculate about the meaning of a particular work, it can give you something more. I believe that by using these techniques you also get a better glimpse into the main character’s state of mind. It also gives you clues as to is going on ‘behind the scenes’ that will affect the character’s mental state.

The texts I chose for this essay are Fuentes’ Aura and Thomas Ligotti’s The Last Feast of Harlequin. Both are dark tales that are full of symbolism. Interpreting some of this symbolism may tell us why the main character acts the way he does and what his mental state is throughout the story.

The main characters in both stories are similar. Both are young men who are well educated, with one who attended Harvard and the other who attended the Sorbonne in Paris. The two men are both teachers, each working on his own ‘life’s work’. Interestingly enough, neither story mentions any close family or friends the main characters might have.

Fuentes’ Aura is definitely a strange story. It is hypnotic; it draws you in with its slow, seductive style. That is how I would describe this twisted love story that ends very surprisingly. Within this story there is symbolism that helps the reader to understand it better. First, we will explore some of the symbolism that could show us there was an effect on Felipe’s mental state.

Darkness abounded in Senora Consuelo’s …

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This approach also gives you an insight into the character’s mind and possibly answers the question of why would they do something that no other sane person would do. In Aura, some of the symbolism found throughout the story suggested that Felipe was not thinking clearly. Surely anyone else would have just left after encountering that woman and her house. In the other story, the main character’s dark side was leading him to do things he or any other outsider might not have done otherwise. Using this approach gives the reader little clues as to what might happen in the story, insight into the main character’s mental state, and a greater understanding of the story as a whole.

Works Cited

Fuentes, Carlos. Aura. Trans. Lysander Kemp. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1981.

Ligotti, Thomas. The Last Feast of Harlequin. The Voice of the Damned 1990.

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