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A Feminist Approach to Brick Lane

Author GuoYuanYuan
Tutor DuanXiaoYing
School Hebei Normal
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Patriarchal System Mother-bond consciousness Female consciousness Woman’s subjectivity
CLC
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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Ali’s debut novel Brick Lane is an instant success after it published in 2003. The story’s focal point is Nazneen, born in a Bangladeshi village and married at the age of 18 to a man 22 years her senior, who takes her to live in the South Asian stronghold of London’s East End. The course of the novel spans 13years, from 1988 to the events which follows 9/11. Nazneen eventually begins to venture afield from Brick Lane as the years pass. When she first arrives in London, she is afraid to leave the apartment, but eventually meets some neighbors and even takes a job as a seamstress. Through her job, she meets her lover, a young Bangladeshi activist called Karim. At last her husband returns to Bangladeshi a failure, the lover who has promised to marry her disappears after a strut he originates. The lonely Nazneen stays at London with her two daughters and learns English. With the help of her friends, she gets a work and raises the family.This dissertation analyses the protagonist on the basis of the feminist criticism approach. The feminism cannot be separated from the development of women’s liberation, especially the upsurge of the second Feminist Movement; it excited the feminist literary criticism directly. The“first wave”of the Western women’s liberation occurred at the end of 19th century and the beginning of 20th century, symbolized as the climax of the British and American women got suffrage during 1920– 1928. The“second wave”after 1960s gradually strove for women’s rights of re-employment, education, politics and culture, and went up to the discussion of nature of women and culture. On the background of women’s striving for political, economic and cultural rights and their searching for definite liberation, the feminist literary criticism came into being. Based on“gender”, it works on revealing women’s subordinate in history, culture and society, and its roots. It advocates reviewing all the phenomena and value manners in the patriarchal system in the view of female. It denies and disobeys the given value system which the patriarchal system imposed on them. Feminist literary criticism challenges the traditional male centered literary history and aesthetic conception. They find out that there exists an ingrained male centralism, such as gender discrimination in male literary works and their control over female writers with the male centered power of discourse. They try their best to get to the goal of re-valuing female images, searching for female literary history, excavating female language and reconstructing new literary theory.This dissertation reads this novel as a quintessential bildungsroman and is going to discuss the growing process of the protagonist—Nazneen, who from being obedient to her fate under the influence of her mother to become independent and the One both in her family and in the society. On the basis of Feminist Criticism Approach, this dissertation aims to illustrate that women could gain their dependence and identity through self-consciousness awakening and subjectivity-regaining that Nazneen is the best example Ali shows us.

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