The Survival of the Feminine Figure Through the Reconciliation of Nature and Logos
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ABSTRACT The Survival of the Feminine Figure Through the Reconciliation of Nature and Logos (August 2017) Daniela Núñez Ochoa, B.A. English; B.A. Spanish, Texas A&M International University; Chair of Committee: Dr. Manuel Broncano This work focuses on analyzing and questioning the role two feminine protagonists play in a phallogocentric social system depicted within two novels. The research will explore the narrative and outcome experienced by Doña Bárbara and Janie Crawford, from Rómulo Gallegos’ Doña Bárbara and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, in a post-colonial twentieth-century American continent. Hélène Cixous’ concept of feminine writing, which roots from her essay “The Laugh of the Medusa” and her book The Newly Born Woman will be the philosophical lens and medium of analysis for both Doña Bárbara and Their Eyes Were Watching God. Both women are raised in a phallogocentric society in which the feminine voice and experience is neglected. For both women to fully develop a voice of their own, they must experience a journey of hardships and repression without ever having access to education. They demonstrate strength as they face adversities, injustice and mistreatment. Yet, they eventually free themselves from the same oppressive systems that once enslaved them. Through a detailed description of two different sociocultural circumstances, both Doña Bárbara and Their Eyes Were Watching God present a public realm foregrounded on patriarchal-hierarchical values in which men have the positions of power and speech which gives them the privilege of assigning meaning to their world, culture and society. This phallogocentric social structure is based on the repression, and silence, of the feminine figure’s voice and the experience of those labelled as part of the feminine. Here, voice is much more than speech, but the experience of Janie and Doña Bárbara as they live in society through the label of “Woman.” The first chapter explores a dialectic between Plato, Jacques Derrida and Hélène Cixous that clarifies the genealogy and meaning of both the neologism phallogocentrism and the method of feminine writing. Chapter two discusses the feminization of barbarism through the character of Doña Bárbara; thus, the oppression of a feminine figure who for the phallogocentric man is the definition of non-logos or barbarism. Chapter three covers Janie Crawford’s life-story as an insurgent of a phallogocentric social system, and specifically analyses the way Jody Starks’ oppressive voice and presence is the basis of the androcentric establishment of the public realm in the town of Eatonville.