In Search of the Mother in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, and Sula by Toni Morrison

Abstract

This dissertation applies poststructuralist and feminist psychoanalytic theories in the analysis of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, and Sula by Toni Morrison. Through the application of the writings of post-structuralist critic Helene Cixous, and feminist psychoanalysts Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva, I explore the importance of the relationship to the mother as a crucial component in the formation of female identity and agency as it is revealed in these three novels. I argue that the novels illustrate how women can discover a psychic knowledge and power that grants them the capacity to experience a specifically female subjectivity by channeling within their unconscious the pre-oedipal mother. The dissertation also traces in these novels the loss of the mother within Western hegemonic culture which has resulted in a devastating violence enacted upon both nature and humanity.

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Keywords

Feminist psychoanalysis, Pre-oedipal, Mothers, Motherhood, Irigaray, Cixous, Kristeva, Maternal, Real, Eyre, Jane, Their eyes were watching god, Sula, Freud

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