"The Magic Toyshop" and "Nightwood":Female Gender Roles Book Review

An analysis of how "The Magic Toyshop" by Angela Carter and "Nightwood" by Djuna Barnes rewrite the established history of sexuality.
# 151732 | 2,124 words | 16 sources | APA | 2011 | GB

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This paper discusses the the ways in which the above two authors Angela Carter and Djuna Barnes write against the established ideals concerning female gender roles. This interdisciplinary piece focuses on the literature in detail, analyzing them with the help of Michel Foucault's theories. The paper further examines how, though written some three decades before "The Magic Toyshop", "Nightwood" is comparable in theme because both texts interrogate the socio medical discourses that attempt to define and locate sexuality and gender.

From the Paper:

"Because "sexology was couched in a vocabulary that predicates the normal/abnormal binary", Harris suggests that the doctor in Nightwood represents a "biting parody of the sexologist" because he himself, as a cross dressing gynaecologist, transgresses the normal/abnormal binary (Harris, 1994: 233). Although Mathew, being a male doctor, claims "masculine subjectivity and narrative authority" when he teaches Nora about 'the night', or inversion, his authority is undone by the fact that he is an "unlicensed gynaecologist" with an ambiguous gender position (Harris, 1994: 241). Barnes refigures the sexologist as one who is unable to define inversion through the normative frame of heterosexuality or through the sex/gender binary because he transgresses the gender binary himself. As a result the 'professional' or 'scientific' sexologist is parodied and it has been suggested that "Nightwood's central tendency to resist all categorisation" is due to the fact that Barnes herself could "never adopt the category of "Lesbian" as it was defined by Freud or sexology- that is as an illness or aberration" (Martins, 1991: 111). "

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Barnes, D. (1996). Nightwood. London: Faber and Faber.
  • Berger, J. (1990). Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin.
  • Boone, J. (1998). Libidinal currents: sexuality and the shaping of Modernism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Butler, J. (1990). Gender Trouble. New York: Routledge.
  • Carter, A. (1981). The Magic Toyshop. London: Heinemann.

Cite this Book Review:

APA Format

"The Magic Toyshop" and "Nightwood":Female Gender Roles (2012, September 07) Retrieved January 16, 2021, from https://www.academon.com/book-review/the-magic-toyshop-and-nightwood-female-gender-roles-151732/

MLA Format

""The Magic Toyshop" and "Nightwood":Female Gender Roles" 07 September 2012. Web. 16 January. 2021. <https://www.academon.com/book-review/the-magic-toyshop-and-nightwood-female-gender-roles-151732/>