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Ambivalent feminist views in John Irving's 'The World According to Garp' and 'The Hotel New Hampshire'
2005 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This essay will analyse two of John Irving’s most popular novels: The World According to Garp and The Hotel New Hampshire, from a feminist perspective. By analysing certain themes in the novels, the essay attempts to prove that the feminist views presented by John Irving are complex and ambivalent with both positive and negative ideas of feminism. The issue of discrimination of women is discussed with examples from both the novels and provides a description of the necessity of feminist movements, which makes Irving’s novels seem more in favour of feminism than they really are. The portrayal of women as victims and men as violators and the idea of sexual violence as the source of patriarchal oppression are also discussed from the standpoint that the frequent use of rape makes sexual violence seem like a natural principle and something that women have to endure in society. The character of Jenny Fields is discussed in a separate chapter, which analyses her views on sexuality, independence and men. It demonstrates that Jenny Fields represents a kind of feminism that is positive on the surface, while it is fundamentally negative. Furthermore, the extreme feminism of the Ellen Jamesians is examined and it shows that their characters largely reinforce prejudices about feminist movements. Irving’s description of the additional strong female characters in relation to their sexuality suggests that female sexuality is dangerous and male sexuality, however violent, is the norm. Finally, the essay discusses the use of reversed domestic roles and the male characters with largely feminist values and the will for social change, which provide Irving’s most modern and positive example of gender equality. The essay concludes that Irving’s portrayal of feminism and feminist movements is clearly contradictory and ambivalent, and although many of his characters and ideas are seemingly sympathetic towards feminist movements, the prevailing view of feminism in the novels is actually quite negative.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Humanities Theology, John Irving, Feminism
Keyword [sv]
Humaniora, Teologi
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-47491ISRN: LTU-CUPP--05/090--SELocal ID: 5084cbcb-5def-4776-b96f-e3db628ca820OAI: diva2:1020816
Subject / course
Student thesis, at least 15 credits
Educational program
English, bachelor's level
Validerat; 20101217 (root)Available from: 2016-10-04 Created: 2016-10-04Bibliographically approved

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