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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Une femme et son pouvoir : une étude de À la mémoire d'un héros d'Andrée Maillet Bula, R. Marie


The theme of this study is the power of women as evidenced in the novels of Andrée Maillet, particularly in one of her later novels, A la mémoire d'un héros. In order to establish the purpose of the author, it was imperative to define power as it is generally understood, as its meaning has evolved and as it is defined by the women specifically concerned with regaining their independence, in this case the feminists of America. During the analysis of the novel selected, it becomes evident that the study of power necessarily leads to the study of powerlessness in women and to the discovery of the roots of their surrender to the control of others. The research on patriarchy, the force that keeps women down, well documented by women writers such as Simone de Beauvoir, Carolyn Heilbrun, Lisa Hobbs and Caroline Bird sheds new light on Maillet's novel, which at first reading appears to be a simple romantic tale of a young woman studying abroad, meeting people of a different culture and falling in love. Maillet's novel goes much deeper, as she reveals the struggle of the heroine whose stern upbringing prevents her from adapting comfortably to the freedom of her new environment. The study of the three women who have tried to prepare their young charge for life helps understand why this heroine is at an impasse, why she eventually opts for a career rather than for love. In a subtle way, Maillet brings out the grief and hardships of women, their difficulty in dealing with relationships, with war and death, and with the acquisition of greater freedom, independence and power. In this slim volume, the author incorporates a portrait of the French-Canadian bourgeoisie; she sheds light on Quebec culture and introduces many well-known personalities of Quebec while punctuating her tale with intriguing symbols and myths of the world. The depth and originality of her writing, her style which has been widely admired, justify an in-depth analysis of this novel. The feminist angle in this analysis situates the author and her work in relation to other North American women writing in a similar context.

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