Document Type

Thesis

Publication Year

Spring 1997

Abstract

In the women's autobiographies with which I work, meaning is created through motherhood as a system, and also through mothers themselves. In the discussions of motherhood that follow, a woman's position in the world changes when related with the maternal aspect. To help me with this "positioning," I plan to look at the idea of the Blessed virgin Mother, and her as she relates into the constructions of living mothers. The association of "mother" with the Virgin Mary causes a further split between the mother and the child because of the iconic distance inherent in the conception of the Virgin as a divine being.

In my discussion of motherhood, I deal with women from a specific portion of the western world, America and England. In my study, I examine such a small area, mostly cut off from formal traditions of Catholic culture, in an attempt to explore the influence of a piece of Catholicism, the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the understanding of motherhood in a place which is much more liberal in its faith. None of the three women I use as my literary examples are Catholic, nor have any of them been raised in a Catholic culture. The relation of a Catholic understanding of motherhood as embodied in the Virgin Mary still influences the ways in which these women of other Christian faith ironically and thoughtfully portray their mothers. The Blessed Virgin Mary appears able to transcend the Roman Catholic context.

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