Mary Pringle deposited “The Desire of the Woman Which Is for the Desire of the Man”: Feminist Readings in Austen and Atwood in the group Feminist Humanities on Humanities Commons 6 years, 4 months ago
Three novels by Jane Austen are compared to three novels by Margaret Atwood in the context of reading and writing as feminist activities. Anna G. Jónasdóttir’s theoretical discussion of male authority supported by women’s alienated love elaborates the apparent truth of W.B. Yeats’ observation [borrowed from Mme de Stael] that “the desire of the woman is for the desire of the man,” the thematic link between the three essays which focus on women’s concerns regarding love, maternity, and professionalism. Austen and Atwood are presented as early and late forms of bright, coherent, middle-class female subjectivity that has remained remarkably consistent over two centuries and two continents. Austen’s Northanger Abbey and Atwood’s Lady Oracle are compared as two metagothics. The female gothic is reread as a response to a world owned and managed by men, a world characterized by ugly secrets and selfish predators. In the comparison between Mansfield Park and The Edible Woman, the significance of women’s potential, symbolic, and actual maternal functions is discussed in the context of woman as commodity. Persuasion and Life Before Man are compared as sites for the presentation of professionalism as an ascendant ideology allowing for both advancement and control of the middle class.