Masques of Morality
Females in Fiction

Aitken, John Lyall
Publisher:  The Women's Press
Year Published:  1987
Pages:  190pp   ISBN:  ISBN 0-88961-113-0
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX3398

Starting from the assumption that life imitates art as much as art imitates life, the author, an award-winning teacher at the University of Toronto's Graduate School and Ontario Institute of Education, deals with 25 female protagonists from a wide range of literary works. She groups them and analyzes them by how they respond to situations.
The chapter titles indicate the parameters of exploration: "What is To Be Done?," "Can Anything Be Done?," "Grace Under Pressure," "Rebellion Under Pressure," "Towards a New Mithos." In each of these chapters, one well-known text is taken as the starting point, with briefer treatment of other novels, short stories and, interestingly, children's literature and fairytales. Dr. Aitken's major examples include Jane Austen's Emma, Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady, Margaret Laurence's The Diviners, and Alice Munro's Who Do You Think You Are?
Teachers of Women in Literature courses may find some interest in this book, but it will be most useful to teachers in social studies oriented to women's concerns. For them, the literary examples of various situations and womens' responses to them can be interesting sidelights to social history and sociological analysis.
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