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Title: Sleeping beauties or laughing Medusas : myth and fairy tale in the work of Angela Carter, A.S. Byatt and Marina Warner
Authors: Al-Hadi, Haifaa
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis examines the use of myth and fairy tale in Angela Carter‘s The Magic Toyshop (1967) and Nights at the Circus (1984), A. S. Byatt‘s Possession (1990) and Morpho Eugenia (1992) and Marina Warner‘s Indigo (1992) and The Leto Bundle (2001). I argue that these authors rewrite well-known traditional myths and fairy tales in order to demythologize social myths concerning women. The first chapter investigates Carter‘s revisions of traditional myth and fairy tale narratives, revisions which advocate new possibilities for male-female relationships. It offers a Cixousian reading of the journeys of transformation which Carter‘s male and female protagonists undergo. This chapter also highlights the affinities between Hélène Cixous‘s and Carter‘s approaches to myth and fairy tale and their belief in the liberating potential of revising traditional narratives. The second chapter explores how the use of traditional myth and fairy tale narratives in Byatt‘s novels is centered on the figure of the female artist/writer trapped by cultural myths of female inferiority and passivity. I argue that Byatt‘s novels counter these myths by celebrating female sexuality and highlight female creative potential. This reading of Byatt‘s novels is largely informed by Cixous‘s idea of bisexuality, and her subversive reading of the Medusa. The third chapter discusses Warner‘s employment of traditional narratives of myth and fairy tale in order to revise naturalized cultural myths of romantic love and maternal love. I argue that the novels reveal women‘s entrapment within these social myths, particularly by giving prominence to the voice of previously marginalized, and often victimized or monsterized, female figures. Here I draw on Cixous‘s work on the hysteric and the monstrous female. The thesis suggests that Carter, Byatt and Warner are engaged in 2 two strategies with regards to traditional myths and fairy tales: the first is a celebratory one, manifested in their revival of powerful mythic female figures which stress female ability and glorify assertive female sexuality; and the second is a revisionist one, aimed at exposing women‘s entanglement within the cultural narratives of femininity.
Description: Ph.D. Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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