Graduation Year

2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

English

Major Professor

Laura L. Runge-Gordon, Ph.D.

Keywords

Clarissa, Richardson, Leapor, Crumble Hall, Morrison, Bluest Eye, Paradise

Abstract

Coffins, Closets, Kitchens, and Convents uses anthropologist Liz Kenyon's categories of home, Gaston Bachelard's theories on the importance of imagination and metaphor in home building, as well as literary criticism, sociology, and feminist theory to examine values of "home" in various literary works of the eighteenth and twentieth centuries. This dissertation's focus on the struggles within traditional home spheres highlights the female characters' need of a protected space. Yet these characters realize they must allow for connections with various individuals to bring about such a safe space. Through the creative act of writing, Mary Leapor's Mira in the poem, "Crumble Hall," Samuel Richardson's title character in Clarissa, and Toni Morrison's Claudia MacTeer in The Bluest Eye and the convent women in Paradise, each oppressed within the home sphere, gain full access to all that the idealized home entails in constructing their individual homes; they rewrite space into a home of their own. The chapters herein are organized from lower-class to higher-class female characters beginning in the eighteenth century with Leapor's servant narrator and moving up to Richardson's higher-class character, followed by Morrison's twentieth century impoverished youth in The Bluest Eye and variety of women both impoverished and well-off residing together in a convent in Paradise.

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