An Interpretation of the Characters in Lessing’s Fictions From a Feminist Perspective

Yechun ZHANG


Doris Lessing’s attitude towards feminism and her writing about it always has a sense of ambiguity. Lessing’s characters have not only obvious feminist features but also a very feminist title: Free women. One can find clear feminist features in Lessing’s female protagonists from either The Golden Notebook or The Summer Before the Dark. They are all independent, anti-man and longing for freedom. They either get divorced with children (like Molly Jacobs and Anna Wulf) or stay as free as unmarried within marriage (like Kate Brown). Their independence, hostility against men and desire for freedom are the seminal features of feminism. And the self-discovery of these female characters is at the same time Lessing’s own exploration into feminism itself. Besides, the male characters in Lessing’s fictions have an equal importance in suggesting Lessing’s feminist ideas. In Anna’s words, women, especially woman writers, create their men in their fictions because it’s rather impossible for them to find an ideal one but in the fictional world. Among these male characters, there is Paul Tanner, the woman-hater, and Saul Green in whom one can see understanding to feminism instead of hatred. These male characters share equal importance as female ones in revealing Lessing’s exploration into the feminist theme. Therefore, the thesis is an attempt to analyze these characters from a feminist perspective so as to understand the value of Lessing’s fictions as feminist texts.


Characterization; Division; Feminism; Lessing; Solution

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