Metamorphosis and the emergence of the feminine: a motif of "Difference" in recent feminist quest fiction
Allen, Paula J. Smith
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The feminine quest has lately been identified and defined to some extent by feminist scholars who have attempted to differentiate its elements from those of the quest of the masculine hero. This differentiation suggests that there is a tme archetype of the questing hero(ine) that lurks behind the mythological figures previously identified in literature by stmcturalist scholars. The tme archetype would be one that would be equally relevant to both the male and female quest, neither a hero nor a heroine, but a figure in which the two are indistinguishable. It is tme that such a figure cannot exist as long as culture so strongly identifies the nature of a human being with his sexual identification. Because roles are assigned by gender, the imagery of the male and female quests differ from one another. The part of each individual, a self, that is neither male nor female is, therefore, not acknowledged. The implication of the differentiafion in roles in the images that represent archetypes is that the casting of the "type" is informed by a culture that fails to define a part of itself The stories examined in this volume are attempts by their authors to create an image of this part of themselves that culture has suppressed. Because language is the clay that culture uses to create its forms, these stories are invariably reflexive. These authors borrow images and patterns familiar to westem culture and re-invest them with meaning pertinent to the feminine consciousness. Their stories, then, are a re-creation of the human experience. The quest heroine's return is determined by her ability to remake her world to sustain herself and those like her. It is this retum that is questioned most by feminist writers and critics of this century, and that deliberation is the organizing principle of this study.
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