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A Comparative Study of the Heroines’ Awakening in the Color Purple and a Rose for Emily from the Perspective of Feminism

Author ZhuangRuXin
Tutor ChenFeng
School Liaoning University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords feminism awakening The Color Purple A Rose for Emil
CLC
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
Downloads 208
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Among so many American writers, people are familiar with two of them because of their narration of race and gender. One is Alice Walker, a black woman writer, the author of The Color Purple in which she depicts the awakening of a black woman called Celie. The other is William Faulkner, a white man writer, the author of A Rose for Emily. Although Faulkner is a white male writer, he believes in the equality of gender and race. His works pay attention to the life of both the black and the white. Although the two heroines discussed in this thesis have different skin colors and family backgrounds, the time of the publication of these two separate novels almost belong to the same period. As the representatives of those awakening women, their awakening progress has something in common. The basis on which this thesis makes a comparison of the two heroines as the academic pursuit is that they, as awakening females, have similar life experiences which trespass against the temporal limitation. This thesis targets at seeking the social roots of women’s miserable fate by comparing the similarities and differences in the progress of the two heroines’acquirement of the consciousness of their female subjectivity. According to the comparative analysis of their awakening, this thesis is done from the perspective of feminism with the hope of snooping the lessons and experiences from the heroines’failure and success and scanning the feminism literature at a deeper level in the future.This thesis is divided into three parts:The introduction includes a brief introduction of relative theories, the authors’life and works, the main plots of The Color Purple and A Rose for Emily and their current research status.Chapter One makes a detailed introduction of womanist theory and feminism. In this part, this thesis traces back to the origin and development of womanism and feminism. According to the comparative analysis, a solid theoretical foundation is laid for this paper. Womanism is to feminism what violet is to purple. Alice Walker’s womanism is an adaptation of feminism. In other words, womanism is black feminism. No matter what names they have, the subjects they focus on have no difference in essence. Basically, their attention is still on women.Chapter Two analyses similarities of two heroines’awakening. In patriarchal society, men are the center of the world. Women of different classes all suffer from the unfair treatment resulted by their own gender. Some of them have lived for long under the tremendous body/ spirit damage given by men. Both heroines mentioned in this paper have lost the love of mother since they were the little girls; both of them are brought up by their fathers and both of their fathers do not educate them very well. What the two fathers’does set the obstacles on their daughter’s way of development. Their behavior makes the two heroines unable to form and develop good personalities. In this case, both of the two poor heroines finally lose their own female subjectivity. According to the comparison of the similar life experiences of the two heroines, this part analyzes the reasons for their lack of female subject; and meanwhile, this section also discusses some other similar positive factors which influenced their awakening: their awakening of sexuality, absence of the patriarchal power and their love.Chapter Three discusses the differences of the two heroines’awakening. Walker and Faulkner make full use of light and dark colors to increase the atmosphere. Meanwhile, the change of color also reflects the development of the heroine’s inner world. In The Color Purple, readers can see many light colors which give people hope and inspiration. As the story goes on, Celie’s clothes changes from broken and casual into colorful and exquisite. The same change happens in her minds. Celie succeeds in growing from a little girl with an innocent, dependent, fragmented personality into an attractive business woman with mature, independent and liberated whole personality. However, in A Rose for Emily, the whole atmosphere is dull. Emily’s depressing life leaps off the paper. Dim light, dark porch and pale faces, all these things together produce a heavy depressing effect and fiercely shock the readers. No matter what the heroine Emily wears, white or black, these two colors flash out Emily’s conservative spirits and her withered body. Because of her father, Emily has for long lived an isolated life. She has no friends at all. In this case, no one can stand out to give her a hand when it is necessary during her process of awakening. This is one of the main reasons why she can not complete her awakening just as what Celie does.The conclusion summarizes this thesis and points out the purport. Women suffer a lot in patriarchal society. Some of them lose their female subjectivity. Women’s way to awaken is always rocky; however, their own struggle and others’assistance together will finally help them to realize their awakening.

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