Narrative Feminine Identity and the Appearance of Woman in Some of the Shorter Fiction of Goethe, Kleist, Hawthorne, and Henry James

Author: Martin, Laura
This study shows how the works in question (Goethe’s “Die pilgernde Törin”; Kleist’s “Die Marquise von O. . .”, Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, and James’s Daisy Miller) can appeal to the reader who identifies a message friendly towards woman and her plight, whether this ‘message’ can be considered a part of the author’s intention or not. These works, through mere description of the impossibility of women characters’ situations without any prescription for change, can often be found to carry meanings more critical of the status quo than at first may seem the case. Such an interpretation often goes against the tradition of criticism that has built up around the works, but it is based on concrete evidence in the text.


“Using the insights of contemporary feminist criticism, Professor Martin addresses the question of whether the ambiguity of the female characters in these works stems from something inherent in their own nature and gender, or whether it reflects the conflicting attitudes of the male author (his conscious intentions vs. unconscious impulses) and of the patriarchal society he represents (or resents). In the course of her analysis, Professor Martin raises the issue of how far even the most enlightened male authors are able to rise above the sexual prejudices of their time. . . . this work is a significant contribution to gender studies that invites us to read major works of literature from a new perspective.” – Joel Black

“The volume is a very careful and imaginative piece of scholarship which opens up new interpretative avenues within the works of authors canonical in undergraduate teaching and in academic research. Dr. Martin makes a significant contribution to the debate on feminism, and to our understanding of the works of Goethe, Kleist, Hawthorne and James, which will be received with great interest in the British and American markets.” – Sheila Dickson

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
1. Introduction
2. A Tricksy Sprite: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Die pilgernde Törin” (Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre)
3. Purity Unsullied: Heinrich von Kleist’s Die Marquise von O
4. Silent Rebel: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter
5. Ignorant Victim: Henry James’s Daisy Miller
6. Conclusion
Bibliography; Index