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Cultural Critique in a Patriarchal World: Revolutionary Suicide in Sylvia Plath's "Lady Lazarus", "Daddy" and The Bell Jar
Södertörn University College, School of Culture and Communication.
2009 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This work studies three texts by Sylvia Plath: “Lady Lazarus”, “Daddy” and The Bell Jar from a feminist, gender and cultural perspective. I investigate how the texts take a stand regarding the motive and meaning of the representations of suicide in these works through the theoretical framework of African-American activist Huey Newton. The Black Panther party cofounder Newton redefines the concept of suicide. First and foremost he views suicide as a reaction to social conditions, coining the terms Reactionary Suicide and Revolutionary Suicide. Revolutionary Suicide is fueled by hope, when refusing to take part in any game of slave and master in society; instead of the normative view that suicide may be fueled by powerlessness and despair, as in the case of Reactionary Suicide. A feminist and gendered perspective on representations of suicide deconstructs traditional preconceptions of femininity and masculinity in the case of suicide and a normative reading: an embodiment by women and men of madness and rationality; viewing them as objects and subjects respectively. This study proposes that the representations of suicide in the texts from a cultural reading show the refusal of women to partake in a life defined by patriarchy, limiting and oppressing women’s everyday life. Suicide is seen through this unusual approach as an emptying out, a repositioning of the self through these performative suicides. Furthermore, through Revolutionary Suicide agency is claimed, with a hope for a better reality for the oppressed, in the intersection of the dichotomies of reality and utopia, literature and history, oppression and freedom. From a feminist perspective suicide is the catalyst to express social, political and cultural critique.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. , 26 p.
Keyword [en]
Suicide, Plath, Newton, literature, gender, culture criticism, feminism
Keyword [sv]
Självmord, Plath, Newton, litteratur, genus, culture criticism, feminism
National Category
General Literature Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-3196OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-3196DiVA: diva2:292563
Presentation
(English)
Uppsok
Humanities, Theology
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2010-02-08 Created: 2010-02-08 Last updated: 2010-02-18Bibliographically approved

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1843c718421b9e892f8dd26547017b60217b39d796289da020085dc67b3c723fe691b1c86edf9bb1ebae6a3c8177d7fedf0137ea7169796a74ef23888ec5bf79
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

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School of Culture and Communication
General Literature Studies

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf