''As if it mattered!'': Discovering the effect of the fairytale in Willa Cather's ''The Song of the Lark''.

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Overview

Willa Cather's The Song of the Lark follows the artistic development of Thea Kronborg, a bright, young girl from Moonstone, Colorado, into a "dry and preoccupied" performer on the New York stage. However, Cather's protagonist is, in some ways, performing throughout the narrative. Thea's development is closely watched and even controlled, first, by the men of Moonstone, and the baton is later handed off when she moves to Chicago and out into society. Nevertheless, it is clear in the text that Thea's development is dependent upon the support of these men; therefore, in order for Thea to realize her ambitious desires, she must, in turn, perform according to their rules and expectations. As a result, Thea's eventual success seems somewhat artificial and unfulfilling; the last two sections of the novel are even more problematic for the reader because Thea is no longer grounded in the text. Her multiple roles and the "scores and wigs" under which she is buried obscure Thea to the point where she is no longer tangible. It is my argument that Thea takes on a spectacular self that allows her to deconstruct her own identity and its corresponding material "body," and, in effect, she disrupts the continuity, or coherence, of the male economy and opens up a space in which she can enter and form her own essential core.;Cather's fiction has posed particular problems for readers because she manipulates and destabilizes controlling notions of gender and the systems by which they are organized. This is true of The Song of the Lark in the way that Cather gives control of her protagonist over to her cast of male characters. It is also not by accident that the female, whose value is traditionally determined by her body, is physically confirmed and represented again and again as a way of determining her "place" in a patriarchal society. The question remains to be asked, though, whether Cather's novel is only a critique of this society, or if she offers her protagonist any means for redemption. Many readers of Cather, such as Judith Butler, argue that her fiction operates by way of her "displaced identification," or, according to Susan Gubar, through a "[metaphorical] mask worn by the female writer to attain the trappings of authority." It seems to me that Thea, as an artist, also succeeds by reproducing herself and her body as a type of spectacle, and it is important to understand how this functions to disrupt the control of the male economy and ultimately allows her greater creative freedom.;It is my aim to explore how, for much of the novel, Thea is physically manipulated by the over attentive men in her life to argue how the body serves as the site of exclusion for the female so that only her materiality can signify value. Yet, it is then important to ask how this exclusion operates; who performs the exclusion? If Thea's derivative value is socially constructed in order for the continuity of a male economy, isn't her "body," as we understand it, an empty construction? Is Thea's only hope, then, to transcend the body or does she manage to form her own center and recreate herself as an artist?
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940011634741
  • Publisher: ProQuest LLC
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eTextbook
  • Pages: 75

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