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Roten till det onda: en studie i häxmotiv, kvinnlig sexualitet, husmoderlighet och moderlighet i Ulla Isakssons historiska roman Dit du icke vill
Södertörn University College, School of Gender, Culture and History.
2008 (Swedish)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor)Student thesisAlternative title
The Root of Evil : a study of witches, female sexuality, housewife-attitudes and disposition for maternity in Ulla Isaksson´s historical novel  Dit du icke vill (English)
Abstract [en]

Ulla Isaksson (1916 – 2000) wrote many novels, often with a woman or several women as protagonists. In Dit du icke vill (“Where Thou Willst Not”) from 1956 she depicts a crisis of faith in a woman, which would not have been successful had she chosen a contemporary setting. She uses an adequate historical framework, the prosecution of witches in Sweden in the 17th century, well documented in reliable sources. Her novel includes a message about oppression of women, manifest in patriarchal ambition to control ancient wisdom about healing and herbs and the denial of pre-Christian habits that include knowledge about female fertility, earlier exercised by midwives and wise women and men.

In “The Root of Evil” the novel is placed in a feminist tradition, where the author, like older writers like Fredrika Bremer, Ellen Key and Elin Wägner, pleads for “social mothering”.  A major difference is that, in her own life, Ulla Isaksson has experienced pregnancy, giving birth and breastfeeding which none of the pioneering Swedish feminist writers had. Emilia Fogelklou, pioneering theologian, wrote about witches as wise women, a study that influenced Ulla Isaksson. The witches are described as mirroring Hanna “the Good Mother”. Their fantasies about life at “Blåkulla” are similar to the everyday life at a wealthy farmstead. This kind of mirroring reminds of the theories of Gilbert and Gubar, who assume that female writers in the 19th Century hid their revolt against patriarchy in mad women, like “The Madwoman in the Attic” in Jane Eyre. In the 1950s, golden age of the Swedish housewife, a female writer might well hide her anger at the circumscribed role model dedicated to women in a similar use of Anti-Women. The real witches clearly contrast the obedient protagonist, a true “Angel in the house”.

The villagers´ struggle to clear the ground from the ensnaring roots that hinder the male prosecution of witches imply a symbolic reading: this evil root is ancient matriarchal knowledge of childbearing and birth control. A theory on the original causes for the witch hunts in western Europe is introduced: the population sank in the 15th century and one reason, beside plagues, starvation and warfare, was that women aware of how to prevent childbearing and giving birth to a lot of children were killed during the witch hunt. Churches and kings introduced the prosecution of witches and wise women, including midwives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. , 40 p.
Keyword
Witch hunt, prosecution of women, historical novel, feminist tradition, female sexuality, Ulla Isaksson, Emilia Fogelklou, Elin Wägner, Fredrika Bremer, Ellen Key, midwives, decrease of population, childbearing, birth control, Gilbert & Gubar
National Category
General Literature Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-1819OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-1818DiVA: diva2:25367
Uppsok
humaniora/teologi
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2008-09-30 Created: 2008-09-20 Last updated: 2008-10-03

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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