Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Joanna Levin

Second Advisor

Dr. Myron Yeager

Third Advisor

Dr. Brian Glaser

Abstract

Feminist “Sisterhood” has been a debatable term throughout multiple generations and its ideology is mostly rejected by feminists in the younger generation. The concept mainly denotes a sense of collectivity and it is viewed as a gendered term due to its coinage by second wave feminists as a response to patriarchy. Hence, “Sisterhood” authorizes a collective identity that portrays women as victims and thereby the ideology that is associated with this term reduces the complexity and fluidity of female identity. Various representations of female bonds, in the political, literary and filmic spheres, have valued the idea of collectivity among females, even up to our present day. In order to deconstruct the attempts to redeem “Sisterhood” as an all-inclusive term, I trace representations of the ideology of “Sisterhood” in selected literary, theatrical and televisual works from multiple generations to argue for the rejection of this term and the inability to validate it as inclusive due to its insistence on a collective identity that imposes a blindness to and an underrepresentation of otherness. I explore how “Sisterhood” results in the objectification of females’ experiences in order to serve identity molds that restrict a female’s representation as an individual. I highlight this problematic ideology in Jane Eyre (1847) by Charlotte Brontë and a theatrical adaptation of the novel by James Willing and Leonard Rae (1879); The Women of Brewster Place (1982) by Gloria Naylor; Big Little Lies (2014) by Liane Moriarty and an adaptation of the novel as a miniseries on HBO (2017). While deconstructing the ideology of perceiving female bonds through the lens of “Sisterhood,” I conclude that the concept is problematic in relation to the portrayal of “other” females, and I demonstrate how it is also flawed on a general level since it takes away from the individuality of each woman portrayed throughout this ideology in order to meet specific commonalities among her “sisters.” Although the ideology of “Sisterhood” is outdated and restrictive, we can’t deny, as I further explore, that the investment in portraying it has contributed to raising important female issues.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Thursday, May 20, 2021

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