Foucault’s Resistance and Sartre’s Transcendence in At the Bay and Bliss by Katherine Mansfield

Maryam Soltan Beyad, Pegah Qanbari


In a couple of her stories, Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923) dealt with female characters who feel trapped and got bored of their roles as loving mothers and wives, yet feel obliged to play their roles, though reluctantly; then as a result of their dissatisfaction, signs of resistance are observable. As prototypes of Foucauldian subjects they exercise power by being assertive and resisting the dominant patriarchal discourse. They balk at motherhood and conjugal life, at devoting themselves entirely to the prescribed role society has imposed, namely to be sacrificial, ignorant of themselves and catering to their husband and children’s needs but they cannot totally break free of them as Nora did in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879). During the time Mansfield wrote her stories a typical woman was expected to play a sacrificial role, ignore her own needs and desires and lead a routine-like life, but as Sartre held individuals “are not exclusively characterized by fixed and given characteristics [that is, by their facticity], but are also constituted in some way by what Sartre calls their possibilities-by what they are aiming at, or beginning, or projecting themselves toward” (Howells, 2006, p.108). The present article aims to present the female protagonists of these two short stories as Foucauldian and Sartrean subjects resisting and transcending their predetermined roles.



Resistance; Transcendence; Foucauldian subjects; Sartrean subjects

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