Undergraduate Honors Thesis


“If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I'm neurotic as hell:” The Fight Against Fragmentation and Reduction in the 1960s Female Bildungsroman: O’Brien, Plath, and Lessing Public Deposited

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  • In this project I have examined three novels dating from the early 1960s that coincide with the start of second-wave feminism. These novels are classified as female Bildungsromans, a genre of novel that is in place to offer a voice to the misrepresented women of the classic Bildungsroman, whose lives were expected to end in marriage or a curated happy ending. The cluster of novels that challenge the Bildungsroman expectations in both form and content are the following: Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls (1960), Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (1963), and Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook (1962). Each of the novels pushes against various gender norms that have acted as regulators for women’s behavior in patriarchal society. These norms include motherhood, marriage, mental health, intimate female relationships, and the objectification of the female body. In challenging these norms, the novels create an image of what the struggling mid-twentieth century woman looks like, and the importance of that depiction in second-wave feminism and the resistance of patriarchal traditions.
Date Awarded
  • 2019-01-01
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Granting Institution
Last Modified
  • 2020-01-06
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