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Title: Freedom and responsibility : motherhood, community and madness in Morrison and Plath.
Authors: Pang, Yu Ming.
Keywords: DRNTU::Humanities::Literature::American
Issue Date: 2010
Abstract: In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, the idea of freedom is rooted in the privilege of gaining responsibility, while freedom in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar equates to the shrinking of responsibility. Yet the contrasting ideas of freedom in both novels cause the characters to become mentally unstable and ostracized by the community. The notion of freedom is strongly tied to responsibility. In Beloved, escapism from slavery grants Sethe the right to responsibility. Allowed claim over her body and self, she actively engages in motherhood and a relationship with Paul D. On the other hand, in The Bell Jar, Esther Greenwood seeks to avoid responsibility. As relationships entail responsibilities, Esther is devoid of any interest in developing any kind of relationship – kinship, friendship or romantic relationships. As a matter of fact, Esther’s determination to abandon responsibility leads to her rejection of her own body; she ceases to take ownership and responsibility for it. The dissection of her mind and body ostracizes her from the community, inevitably inducing madness. This results in her narrative defamiliarizing her own body and reflection; she narrates an experience of the mind being outside of the body. Likewise, in a bid for freedom, Sethe’s hunger for responsibility controls her as it transforms into an unhealthy obsession. Her pride in her responsibility and independence causes her to fall out with the community; its absence in her solitary life invokes her madness.
Rights: Nanyang Technological University
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:HSS Student Reports (FYP/IA/PA/PI)

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