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UBC Theses and Dissertations

On the edge : woman, nature, mother and father in the works of Kono Taeko Langton, Nina Jean


This thesis examines the works of the contemporary Japanese author, Kono Taeko. In particular, the themes of Nature, Mother and Father, and the manner in which the female protagonists of the works relate to each of these objects, is studied. Within these relationships, issues of fantasy, marginalization, and preoedipal and Oedipal development are also examined. The approach is psychoanalytical, using the relational model rather than classical analysis as the theoretical basis. The first chapter deals with the manner in which the female protagonists relate to the "natural" environment. Some of the similarities and differences in the perception of nature in Japan and the West are pointed out, especially with respect to the way that nature is characterized as being female and maternal. The author is seen as moving from an essentially antagonistic position where nature is perceived as a denying mother-figure to one where nature is regarded as a means of personal liberation and rebirth. Chapter Two focuses on the mother-child relationship and the ambivalent feelings toward mother and motherhood that many women experience. The characters vacillate between a desire tore experience feelings of original unity with the mother, and a desire to cut themselves off from the mother and establish themselves as separate beings. No final resolution in either direction is seen as being reached in these relationships. In the final chapter, the father-daughter relationship is examined, especially with regard to the father's place in the masochistic fantasies of the characters in these works. Furthermore, the father is seen as an idealized figure who acts as a means of escape from the omnipotent mother, but who ironically leads the protagonist back to the mother. The mother-figure, then, lies at the bottom of all of the other major themes in the works of Kono Taeko. These works display an interesting mix of Western and Japanese perceptions of the mother-figure, and the tensions implicit in ambivalent attitudes toward the mother are apparent and make for fruitful study.

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