Dissertation > Literature > Literary Theory > Countries in Literature

Feminist Narrative Authority in Daddy-Long-Legs

Author ZhuJiang
Tutor ZhangYueJun
School Central South University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Daddy-Long-Legs social context feminist narration consciousness of authority
CLC I712.074
Type Master's thesis
Year 2013
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Jean Webster is a woman writer at the beginning of the twentieth century whose Daddy-Long-Legs was a best seller once it was published and still enjoy popularity up till now. Daddy-Long-Legs is also drawing great interest among many other works by women since women literature are enjoying prosperity worldwide. There are analyses of the novel from the perspective of both children reader-response and feminism.The thesis focuses on the problem of authority in Daddy-Long-Legs from the perspective of feminist narratology to find out the answers to the three questions. Is Daddy-Long-Legs closely linked with its social context? What is Webster’s attitude towards traditional men’s authority? Has Webster had women’s authority overwhelm men’in it? The study helps to revalue Webster and her works to women literature.The introduction mainly includes the development of women literature, literature review, theoretical framework of the thesis and the writer Jean Webster with her works.Chapter I describes women’social conditions at which time Webster was born and brought up and her personal experience. It indicates that Webster is greatly influenced by the above mentioned factors which further influence her literary creation. She expressed her views on issues concerning education, right to vote, the relationship between men and women from the standpoint of a woman. She hopes to establish women’s authority over men and exert an impact on the society through her works.Chapter II analyzes narrative convention, narrative form and the position of men in the narration to prove that Webster overturns the traditional men’s authority. The first section makes an analysis of Daddy-Long-Legs’ plots based on Alison Case’s argument of narrative convention, putting forward the opinion that it is anti-conventional for the women who weave plots actively in the novel and it helps construct women’s authority over men. The second section is about the female characteristics of the narrative form which is opposite to the traditional men’s grand narration. The third section illustrates how men’s traditional position and great images are overturned.Chapter III applies feminist narrative theory such as narrative voice, female perspective, narrative form and narrative communication to analyze Daddy-Long-Legs. The first section points outs that the novel adopts first person narrative so that the woman author, the woman narrator and the woman protagonist are integrated. This form enables Webster speak more freely to male readers to claim her rights and express her opinions. The flexible transition and penetration between "authorial narrative voice" and "personal narrative voice" is realized. The same is with the changing between "private voice" and "public voice". The novel is integrated but more dynamically diversifying in this way. The second section illustrates the female perspective of the novel and points out that it is of great benefit to the writer. It enables readers to observe things around from a female standpoint and get to know more directly women’s conditions and their opinions. The third section is about the narrative form, that is, the combination of epistolary form and diaries. This form brings the novel the characteristics of privacy, dialogism, secrecy and immediacy and makes it suitable for female narration. The fourth section continues to discuss the mode of narrative communication covering Daddy-Long-Legs. It focuses on the two levels of communication, that is, the extra-textual level and the intermediate level and reveals that Webster takes full advantage of her rights to speak in the novel to address readers.Chapter IV discusses whether Webster makes her women’s authority go to the extreme and thus burdens the women. The paper points out that the so called authority loses its position at last although both parties once struggled for it fiercely. Men and women are dependent on each other so much that there is no need for one party to overwhelm the other.On the basis of the above analyses and illustrations, it can be concluded that Daddy-Long-Legs is closely related to its social context. She overturns men’s authority to establish women’s authority by anti-conventional plot pattern, first person feminist narration and addressing male readers. However, authority is deconstructed in the process of men and women’s struggle. Men and women reach a compromise as to the problem of authority for they are greatly dependent on each other.

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