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An examination of the notions of "masculinity" and "femininity" in the poetry and prose of Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney.

Davis, Alex (1991) An examination of the notions of "masculinity" and "femininity" in the poetry and prose of Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

Throughout Ted Hughes' work, the "lack" that he sees as the fundamental constituent of Western culture is approached in terms of gender. His work is informed by the belief that the history of patriarchal civilization is a record of exile from a plenitude of being, an Imaginary unity with what is troped as a maternal nature. The role of literature is, in some way, to restore the alienated subject to fulfilment, the latter taking two forms: an expanded, visionary male, in the quest-romances of the 1970s, who bears comparison with Blake's Sons of Eternity: and, in his later poetry, a less hyperbolic quasi-Wordsworthian worshipper of a humanized, feminine nature. In the case of Seamus Heaney, whilst the prose explores modes of writing revolving around a masculine/feminine polarity, the vexed issues of colonialism and nationalism prompt, in the 1970s, a series of "sexual conceits" which express his sense of alienation from a motherland violated by "masculine" imperial ism. The archetypal and mythic parallels which inform these concerns come under increasing scrutiny in the more recent work, which, in a comparable manner to Hughes, can be read as a -demythologizing" of earlier preoccupations. What both writers' use of gender reveals is an intense engagement with history; their notions of masculinity and femininity are to be seen as part of a formal attempt to find aesthetic resolutions to socio-political conditions which, in various ways, limit and circumscribe individual desire and gratification.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Literature
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > School of English (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.242469
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2019 10:37
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2019 10:37
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/21738

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