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Title: The feminine and the sacred : the mythicization of women in D.H. Lawrence's fiction
Authors: Haritatou, Parthenia
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: In this thesis, I am attempting a reading of D.H. Lawrence which concentrates on the representation of women in his fiction, something that is revealing, not only of his attitude towards women, but men too. This is because Lawrence always maintained close connections between his fiction and his theories about the relationship of the two sexes and how their union can lead to real consummation and ultimately to spiritual rebirth. He believed ardently that men and women need to rediscover their true original instincts which have been distorted and debilitated by the evils of modern mechanistic civilization. In this quest for the original “other” self, the woman plays the most important role. Endowed, according to Lawrence, with natural intuition and strong instincts, but burdened with arbitrary, suffocating, social rules, she must find the way to her authentic female self and to do so she must follow a path which usually involves an experience of nature and leads to a meeting with the man who will help her reclaim her womanhood and waken Aphrodite, the erotic goddess dormant inside her. This is a long, arduous process, a descent into the dark depths of the human psyche, what the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung called an “individuation” process, which takes the human being to the very core of existence and provides crucial glimpses into the real meaning of life. This other self is often identified by both Jung and Lawrence as the innocent, primitive and long forgotten self, which instinctively knew how to appreciate life in its original demonstrations, the self which was still in an infant state, spontaneous and authentic, and thus healthy and pure, uncontaminated by the corrupt materialistic outlook of modern society. iii Woman, by her very nature, is much closer than the man to this “unconscious” self, the place where instincts, urges and drives reside. This can be seen as a dark underworld, the Hades in the depths of the human mind, where the woman will descend after passing through various phases of mythicization: She is Persephone seeking Pluto, or in the eyes of her perplexed and often alarmed male companion, a frightening Maenad, the mysterious feminine force, a redoubtable goddess of another world. In her closeness to nature, the typical Lawrencian heroine shows an Artemislike independence and self-reliance, and in her communion with man she turns, by invoking Eros, into a passionate Aphrodite, ready and keen to abandon herself in the sacred union with the male other. In his descriptions of this mythicization process undergone by his female characters, Lawrence often employs what Hélène Cixous has defined as a feminine language, a language springing from the fertile emotional other of the female nature, the “semiotic” language of the feminine body. I use Julia Kristeva’s term “semiotic” to signify this other “land” of the unconscious, which, in D.H. Lawrence’s fiction, is often connoted by the real land where the action takes place, a land representative of these valuable human instincts. Although Lawrence’s approach to woman may be thought of as essentialist, there can be no doubt that such a view of the female is one of the outstanding characteristics of D.H. Lawrence’s work. After all, there is something totally fascinating about the way his female characters refuse to succumb to stereotypes, social and literary, but think, feel and act with maturity, intelligence and resoluteness that distinguishes them from the males. It shows them to be not only individual and free within their fictional context, but also independent from the very man who made them.
Description: PhD thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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