A Maslovian Study of the Millstone
|Course||English Language and Literature|
|Keywords||hierarchy of needs self-actualization maternity abstinence growth|
Margaret Drabble (1939- ) is regarded as one of the most influential novelist in contemporary English literature. Since 1962 Drabble began her novel-writing career. Up to now, she had already published seventeen novels. In her early works Margaret Drabble focuses on the young female intellectuals who are confronted with conflicts between life and dreams, between society and individuals, as well as between career and marriage. Each of her early works presents a seemingly ideal resolution for those confused educated women. The Millstone, Margaret Drabble’s third novel, is a prominent one on the list. It describes how the protagonist Rosamund Stacey develops from an isolated and unworldly scholar into a mature, competent and humane unwed mother. It is by means of becoming a single mother that she achieves her growth both in maternity and career. This thesis makes an attempt to explore the psychological journey of Rosamund Stacey, by adopting Abraham H. Maslow’s (1908-1970) theory of hierarchy of needs and that of self-actualization, aiming to make an overall assessment of the choice of single motherhood for female intellectuals.This thesis falls into three chapters. Chapter one discusses the satisfaction of Rosamund Stacey’s needs for love and esteem in the painstaking process of her pregnancy, childbirth and childcare. By virtue of maternity, Rosamund Stacey satisfies her need for maternal love and self-respect. All the way through her pregnancy, delivering the baby and taking care of her Octavia, she has her needs for love and esteem gratified. Rosamund finally becomes an affectionate and respectable woman. Chapter two analyses the hard and painstaking psychological journey of Rosamund Stacey towards her self-fulfillment. She not only smoothly fulfills her role as a capable unmarried mother but also makes great achievement in her academics. Gradually she develops into a self-actualizing woman. Rosamund proves that women can fulfill their potential in career and maternity simultaneously. She in her own way successfully solves the conflict between family and career. Chapter three explores the environmental and personal factors that hinder Rosamund Stacey’s further development. Owing to the unfavorable cultural and social environment for female intellectuals, Rosamund Stacey is forced to be an unmarried mother. Her uniqueness results in the deprivation of her belongingness after she satisfies her self-actualization need. She cannot identify herself with those ordinary housewives, nor find true understanding and belongingness in other female intellectuals. In addition, Rosamund Stacey’s limitations in personality also impede her full development. She is a mixture of confidence and cowardice, which account for her exclusiveness from the opposite sexIn The Millstone, Margaret Drabble attempts to provide an alternative solution for the perplexed women, i.e. being a single mother. Rosamund Stacey’s choice as a single mother is actually a painful compromise between her and the unfavorable environment. By becoming a single mother she achieves her growth both in maternity and career. However, her denial of love for man and the abstinence in sexuality would finally do harm to an individual’s mental health and the harmony of society.