Patriachy, indoctrination and education. The therapeutic power of creation in women's literature. Two case studies: Carmen Martín Gaite's "The back room" (1978) and Ian McEwan's "Atonnement" (2001)
García Lara, Antonia
- Publisher: Universidad de Granada
Literature | Education | Martín Gaite, Carmen | Indoctrination | McEwan, Ian | Patriarchy | Women
My dissertation deals with the patriarchal education that indoctrinates women and forces them to be domestic angels and how this education provokes a trauma that they try to heal by creation in the form of writing. I will use two case studies to illustrate my point: Carmen Martín Gaite’s C., who is Martín Gaite’s alter ego in El Cuarto de Atrás [The Back Room] (1978), and Briony Tallis, who is a fictional character in Ian McEwan’s Atonement (2001). Briony is actually the one who writes Atonement in McEwan’s novel.
By researching into texts dealing with the education received by Spanish unmarried women from the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939 to Francisco Franco’s death in 1975, I have understood the current situation of many old and middle-aged Spanish women whose sole occupation in life is looking after their husbands and children. They are not qualified for other jobs because they were not given the opportunity to receive life-long education and they could not attend University. Women, who were given certain rights during the Second Republic (1931-1936), lost them after 1939 and the Sección Femenina indoctrinated them with a different system of beliefs with the sole aim of making good future Spanish wives and mothers and those who did not follow this assigned role were doomed to have a life full of grief, as we will see when analyzing Martín Gaite’s The Back Room.
The comparative approach adopted in this dissertation has given me the opportunity also of reaching conclusions on the education given to women in England between 1919 and 1945 (between the end of World War I [1914-1919] and the end of World War II [1939-1945]). Sadly, the situation was not very different because the period after World War I was one of conservatism about sex roles. In short, by the 1928 women in the United Kingdom found themselves with little progress besides the vote because they were encouraged to remain domestic angels and were strongly influenced by the reading of romance fiction, which will ruin young Briony’s life forever in McEwan’s Atonement.
The current dissertation is distributed as follows: in the first part of my research, I try to find the connections between patriarchal education, indoctrination and trauma. The deficiencies of a patriarchal education, which indoctrinates women and imposes on them a fixed system of knowledge that oppresses them causes these women a trauma. Regarding the second part, I have explored how this trauma can be healed if it is expressed in words. I have researched on these tenets using two case studies, as I said before, one of them a piece of literature in Spanish, Carmen Martín Gaite’s The Back Room (1978), and the other a piece of literature in English, Ian McEwan’s Atonement (2001). Finally the conclusions find their commonalty and differences in the relation between indoctrination, trauma and the therapeutic power of creation.