“God loves you but not enough to save you”: Patriarchal Authority and Feminine Punishment in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and Ethel Cain’s Preacher’s Daughter

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Date
2024-07-09
Authors
Fattor, Sacha
Keyword
Sylvia Plath , Ethel Cain , Feminism , Agency , Patriarchy , Biblical Submission
Abstract
This thesis draws upon critical feminist theory, autobiographical genres, and contemporary comparative analysis to examine gendered discourse and corporeal feminine punishment in The Bell Jar (1963) by Sylvia Plath and Preacher’s Daughter (2022) by Ethel Cain. My research links confessional women’s writing and patriarchal authority to examine the oppressive nature exerted by patriarchal institutions over feminine subjects. I observe the characterization of feminine heroine within patriarchal landscapes in which Biblical ideas of damnation, punishment, and salvation serve as a trajectory that both maps patriarchal violence and, at times, offers a window through and out of it. My thesis aims to highlight the evolving female literary landscape of the mid-20th century, establish the patriarchal conventions that exist in women’s writing, and denote patriarchal subjects’ consistent allusion to Biblical functions as reasoning for their systematic torment.
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