One of the most consequential results of the past twenty years of feminist theory and literary criticism has been the dismantling of traditional norms of what constitutes the self and individual identity. Carol Gilligan, Mary Field Belenky, and Elizabeth Abel - to name only the most widely read - have demonstrated that the American ideal of developing an individuated, authentic, and autonomous self does not rest on universal psychological and moral principles but is primarily a "fiction" created by masculine discourse.
The following critical essays focus on four of the most memorable individuals in American literature - Isabel Archer from Henry James' The Portrait of a Lady; Lily Bart from Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth; and Carrie Meeber and George Hurstwood from Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie - in order to explore new ways of looking at the self in the wake of feminist theory and criticism.
© 1991 by the Board of Student Publications, University of Northern Iowa
Draftings In: Vol. 6:
3, Article 2.
Available at: https://scholarworks.uni.edu/draftings/vol6/iss3/2