(Re)contruction of Female Identity and Formation of New Paradigms of Representation in the Irish Short Stories by Elizabeth Bowen and Mary Lavin

Sanja Radmilo Derado, Ekonomski fakultet, Split
The paper analyses the tendency of the contemporary Irish short story towards subversion of the official representation of hybrid female identities. The analysis departs from the basic premises of Postcolonial theory. Identifying the contemporary Irish short story as a powerful medium for the representation of plural Irish identities, the paper situates this prose form within a wider social and historical framework, pointing towards the formation of discourse of resistance to hegemonic constructs within the Irish society. In order to prove the initial arguments, the paper considers the selected stories by two Irish female authors belonging to the, so-called, mid-century generation of the Irish short story – Elizabeth Bowen and Mary Lavin. From the perspective of the Anglo-Irish, half Protestant-half Catholic female, Elizabeth Bowen penetrates deep inside her class on the verge of social decline, revealing the instability of a female identity existing on the ´hyphen´ between Anglo and Irish which has historically been silenced in the public discourse. Mary Lavin´s focus, on the other hand, moves away from the ´national´ identity towards the sphere of the local and the intimate putting forward the phenomenon of ´the exile within the community´, i.e. the alienation of a female figure that transgresses the dominant paradigms of the Irish rural setting. The paper concludes that both female writers determine the female figure as a subversive element in the Irish postcolonial society by which they strive to secure social recognition of the hybrid Irish female identity, thus removing her from the social margins and from the historically determined conformist behaviour.
Key words
plurality of identity; female identity; Irish short story; representation; subversion; postcolonial discourse; Elizabeth Bowen; Mary Lavin
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