Emma Donoghue's Slammerkin Summary

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This paper aims at analysing Emma Donoghue’s Slammerkin, written in 2000 and set in mid-eighteenth century England, projects a girl who in no time is pushed into the category of a ‘fallen woman’ for violating the prescribed patriarchal norms and roles for women. Here the girl, Mary, is represented as a universal subject who lives in the wretched condition of most women of her rank and background in the eighteenth century, at the same time, her singular personality interrogates the anti-women stance of the Enlightenment as she emerges into her own in the same inimical historical time and place to reach beyond it to the current readership. The scope of reclamation is dealt to facilitate lost selfhood in general and of women victims in particular.…show more content…
Donoghue places Mary as an interrogator of the patriarchy in her society which was pro-masculine in nature. The prominent patriarchs of the age, Immanuel Kant and Jean-Jacques Rousseau professed misogynist ideologies. Immanuel Kant supported the idea of subordinating women to men on account of their physical difference (Schott n. pag.). Marriage, as an institution, legalized the husband’s control on the wife like that of a master on the slave. This is well elucidated by Mrs. Jones belief that “ ‘a wife’s only a kind of upper servant . . . [who] can’t go against his word” (294).This is conflated with the episode in which Mr. Jones, troubled by his grief on not having a son and his wife’s coldness towards him, comes looking for the prostitute at the inn. He discovers Mary to be the whore but that does not stop him from having sex with her. The superficiality and duplicity of the marriage institution is thus exposed as wives are regulated to be monogamous, whereas husbands are free to seek pleasure and comfort elsewhere. The challenge to this prejudice was clearly enunciated in the feminist stance of Mary Astell given in A Serious Proposal to Women (1668), which seeks to subvert the patriarchal institution of marriage that entraps women and the struggles and triumphs of such a stance is manifestly represented Donoghue’s characterisation of
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