Masters Thesis

The legend that is hers as well as mine: a nonlinear dynamic approach to the mother/daughter relationship in eavan boland’s “The Pomegranate”

Using feminist psychoanalytic and rhetorical theory, this thesis reclaims and reimagines how female relationships and voices are represented in literature by focusing on the ancient myth of Persephone and Demeter in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter and the contemporary adaptation of this myth in Eavan Boland’s poem “The Pomegranate.” These texts offer shifting perspectives on the mother/daughter relationship through their representations of Persephone and Demeter, reflecting lived experiences of women and opportunities to facilitate women’s nonlinear representation in literature, contrary to traditional scholarly perspectives. This thesis challenges patriarchal and other restrictive approaches to women’s voices to create awareness of the multilayered complexity that occurs in the mother/daughter dynamic—accounting for simultaneous expectations of autonomy and unity in need of further analysis for their reflection in literature. Moving away from scholarship that has previously simplified the mother/daughter relationship to one of Oedipal competition, viewing daughters as replacing their mother or commonly centered on the reproduction of mothering through daughters internalizing and modeling a mother’s values, this analysis reveals a cyclical dynamic involving fluidity as mother and daughter build a mutual autonomy arising out of an intersubjective relationship—finding that both mother and daughter share in the legends of female experience.

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