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On the Plight of Modern Midlife and Older Women

Author JiaSiYu
Tutor XiuShuXin
School Northeast Normal University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Midlife Woman Older Woman Plight Solutions
Type Master's thesis
Year 2010
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Doris Lessing (1919 ) is one of the most influential novelists in the history of contemporary British literature after World WarⅡ. Her works have been widely translated and internationally recognized. She is acknowledged as one of the leading women writers ever since Virginia Woolf. Her literary achievements in fiction largely rest on her thorough and accurate descriptions of women in modern life.This thesis attempts to make a study of the plight of modern midlife and older women and the possible solutions in The Diaries of Jane Somers (1984) by Doris Lessing, with references to some fundamental feminist theories and feminist criticism, mainly included in The Second Sex (1949) by Simone de Beauvoir, and The Madwoman in the Attic (1984) by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, as well as some related feminist theories on the welfare state.This thesis is divided into five parts. Chapter One and Chapter Two are devoted to examining the phenomena and reasons of the plight of the two representative female characters in details—the emptiness and rage of older Maudie Fowler, the desolation and frustration of midlife Jane Somers, and the reasons of their plight, so far as social, political, economical and spiritual aspects are concerned. Chapter Three involves a discussion of their persistent pursuit of love and care to fight against their plight. At the same time, it also implies Lessing s indirect exposure of the partiality of the welfare state.The central argument of this thesis is as follows. Modern midlife and older women, suffering from discrimination, loneliness and frustration in their midlife and old age, would not surrender to their decay and loss of life. Instead, they struggle against the plight energetically and furiously. In their persistent pursuit of love and care, they have managed to achieve self-realization and show the great significance of their life.

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