Battling Patriarchy

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Women and Tradition: Battling Patriarchy With a Pen
In the second chapter of their book, The Mad Woman in the Attic, (1979), Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar examine the relationship between female writers and literary tradition. Their central argument posits that female writers experience the “anxiety of authorship,” distress that stems from the lack of female precursors in the literary tradition for contemporary female writers to reference for inspiration and validation in their writing (Gilbert and Gubar 49). This disenfranchisement of female authorship is rooted in a literary tradition dominated by men, a patriarchal system that conforms female characters in literature to masculine desires, such as the poet 's muse or the angel. Enclosing
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The young girl shows up at Foe 's home claiming to be Barton 's daughter. Barton, however, refuses to recognize her as her daughter and instead saw her as a type of message from foe. When young Susan confronts Barton about her parentage, Barton replies, "You are father-born. You have no mother. The pain you feel is the pain of lack, not the pain of loss" (Coetzee 91). The term "father-born" suggest that young Susan may not even be a person at all, but a character in a narrative created by Foe (the father of young Susan) to tell the story of a daughter in search of her mother. When Barton finally does reach Foe, she expresses her desire to have the island be the focus of her story, but Foe sees her time on the island as one component of a larger story, wherein the second part "the daughter takes up the quest abandoned by the mother" (Coetzee 117). Young Susan appears midway through the novel, and Foe 's vision of Barton 's story featuring her daughter searching for her comes midway through his narrative, suggesting that young Susan is Foe 's creation, and his attempt to conform Barton 's narrative to his vision. Furthermore, the term could allude to the predominantly male literary history; a father births young Susan because it is only men allowed the privilege of literary creation. The “pain of lack” suggests that young Susan, in a metaphysical sense, feels a lack of self-identity given that men shape female characters in novels. She wishes for a mother, a female author to substantiate her literary identity, but she only has the parentage or precursors of literature created by men. Finally, Barton discusses young Susan’s parentage in the “darkest heart of the forest,” (Coetzee 90) which is a nod to the beginning of the novel when Barton mentions “the heart of man is a dark forest” (Coetzee 11). It is as if Barton disposes of young Susan in the very place
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