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Title:Female Friendships in Doris Lessing's Novels (Zimbabwe)
Author(s):Wellington, Charmaine Eileen
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Modern
Abstract:The nature and scope of Lessing's feminism has been controversial, yet the apparent contradiction between Lessing's avowed lack of sympathy with the women's movement, and feminists' persistent interest in her work can be resolved by understanding the parameters of Lessing's identification with women. In a "A Talk with Doris Lessing by Florence Howe" Lessing said, "I wrote from inside a woman's viewpoint, naturally, since I am one" (A Small Personal Voice 80). Her femaleness is both obvious and inevitable, and is expressed in exceptionally intimate portraits of relations between female friends.
Lessing's novels present four types of female friendship, which are parallel to four stages of differentiation of the female child from her mother. Self-reflecting friendships, analogous to the pre-Oedipal relation between mother and infant, are based on likenesses of temperament, belief, or situation. Friendships based on the recognition of the "otherness" of the female friend, that is, some fundamental difference in temperament or point of view, suggest the female infant's developing individuality. Heroic friendships, based on the ability of one female friend to offer the other a necessary social service, imply the increased differentiation of mother and daughter as social entities. Finally, mother-daughter friendships, based on complementary talents of women of widely different ages, suggest the reciprocity possible between fully mature adults.
Presenting these four types of friendship, Lessing points out the role played by female friendships in the individuation process of the female child. She also implies an ethics of female friendship, suggesting both the necessity of individuation of one female from another, and the psychological benefits which ensue when female friends accept and explore temperamental, social and cultural differences within the context of their identification as women.
Issue Date:1986
Description:241 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1986.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8701649
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1986

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