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Coffins, Closets, Kitchens, and Convents: Women Writing Of Home In Gendered Spaces by Nicole Spottke A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of English College of Arts and Sci ences University of South Florida Major Professor: Laura L. Runge Gordon, Ph.D. Pat Rogers, Ph.D. Gurleen Grewal, Ph.D. Shirley D. Toland Dix, Ph.D. Date of Approval: October 30, 2009 Keywords: Clarissa, Richardson, Leapor, Crumble Hall, Morriso n, Bluest Eye, Paradise Copyright 2009, Nicole Spottke
To Mom and Dad, for introducing me to the idea of home and to John for joining me in the adventure of creating our own
Acknowledgments My acknowledgments date back to my masters work a t the State University of New York College at New Paltz. Sincere t hanks to Carl e y Rees Bogarad whom I greatly miss ; I count myself blessed to have had her in my life, for it was she who saw something special in me when I didnt T o Jan Z lotnik Schmidt and H.R. Stoneback for fostering that something special I would never have gone this far without their believi ng in my abilities as a teacher, student and scholar To my colleagues at Valencia Community College, West thanks for patiently enduring my endless conversations beginning with, my dissertation and to my deans Kim Long and Karen Borglum for making sure I had time off to take my exams and partial summers off to write. Thank you to the Aphra Behn Society, The Southeastern American Society for Eigh teenth Century Studies (SEASECS), and the Irving Deer family for your financial gifts and awards. My dearest friends, thank you for still being my friends even after my disappearance for months at a time. My family in Maine, the Ja ckson and Edwards famil ies but especially Chris and Lily many thank s for sharing their home by the lake, a most perfect place to write. My professors, colleagues, and staff at the University of South Florida (USF) deserve my utmost respect for their support and guidance. I k now Ive said t hank you hundreds of times but one more to Lee Davidson is most appropriate for her patience
with me throughout my PhD work and the dissertation process I do apologize for any grief I have caused her along the way I am grateful to Dr. L ynn Worsham for working with me even when she was no longer teaching at USF. Her guid ance during the early stage of my Paradise chapter helped place this work in sharper focus and set the foundation for this dissertation I extend deep gratitude to my di ssertation panelists for giving of their time and supplying me with further thought and insight : Pat Rogers for suggesting various titles for further reading to include in both the Leapor and Richardson chapters Gurleen Grewal for recommending I work on t he Paradise chapter for publication, and Shirley D. Toland Dix for encouraging me to question my arguments more, organize them more methodically, and make sure I have specifics for full develop ment Lastly to my mentor, teacher, proofreader/editor, Laura L. Runge Gordon I thank her for sharing her safe haven with me in the summer, answering my every question, and for giving of her time for the read ing over of multiple draft s of each chapter as well as the versions of those chapters for conference prese ntation s I blame her, especially, for drawing me away from the nineteenth century and into my now beloved eighteenth century British literature
i Table of Contents Abstract iv Preface v i Introduction 1 The Temporal Home 6 The Social Home 7 The Personal Home 8 The Physical Home 12 The Texts 1 5 Notes 22 Chapter 1 Remodeling the Fragmented Estate: A Study of Home Space in Mary Leapors Crumble Hall 23 Lifes Great Blessing: The Importance of Friendship in Developing a Sense of Home 2 4 Of Unwanted Creatures 29 Of Rooms and Furnishings 37 Its People F irst W e S ing: Reclaiming the Community in Crumble Hall 4 5 Work, Rest, and Play 5 3 Of Sir Warys Destruction and Mary Leapors Construction 5 7 Notes 59
ii Chapter Two Six Foot Seven an d a Half by 25 and a Quarter Inches of Physical Space, an Infinity of Personal Space: Constructing Home in Samuel Richardsons Clarissa 67 Of Parlors and Closets: Clarissas Familial Home Space 68 Boarding House or Brothel? Clarissas London Residence 8 6 Of Wombs and Coffins: Clarissas Final Resting Place 10 0 Notes 115 Chapter Three Primers, Disinheritance, and the Need for Ancestral Tradition: Voicing Home in Morrisons The Bluest Eye 118 Of Storefronts and O ld, C old, and G reen Houses: Aberratio ns of Home and Community 119 Rapists and Protectors, Silencers and Singers: Parental Influence in Home Development 128 Psychotic Breakdown versus Narrat ion: Voicing a Home of Ones Own 140 Notes 150 Chapter Four The Rapture of Holy Women Dancing in Hot S weet Rain: A Space for Spiritual Enlightenment at Home in Toni Morrisons Paradise 156 Living the American Dream: The Inequality of the Traditional Home 159 Why the Need for an Alternative Religion? 165 Let the Rituals Begin 168 Dancing with the Goddess 176 Paradise Reconsidered 179
iii Resurrections and Home Preservations: A Conclusion but not an Ending 182 Notes 18 5 Conclusion 190 Notes 195 Works Cited 196 About the Author End Page
iv Coffins, Closets, Kitchens, and Co n ven t s: Women Writing of Home in G endered Spaces Nicole Spottke ABSTRACT Coffins, Closets, Kitchens, and Co n ven t s uses anthropologist Liz Kenyons categories of home Gaston Bachelards theories on the importance of imagination and metaphor in home building, as well as literary criticism sociology, and feminist theory to examine values of home in various literary works of the eighteenth and twentieth centuries This dissertations focus on the struggles within traditional home spheres highlights the female characters need of a protect ed space Yet these characters realize they must allow for connections with various individuals to bring about such a safe space. T hrough the creative act of writing Mary Leapors Mira in the poem, Crumble Hall, Samuel Richardsons title character in Cl arissa, and Toni Morrisons Claudia MacTeer in The Bluest Eye and the convent women in Paradise, each oppressed within the home sphere, gain full access to all that the idealized home entails in constructing their individual homes ; they rewrite space into a home of their own The chapters herein are organized from lower class to higher class female characters beginning in the eighteenth century with Leapors servant narrator and moving up to Richardsons higher class character followed by Morrisons twen tieth century
v impoverished youth in The Bluest Eye and variety of women both impoverished and well off residing together in a convent in Paradise
vi Preface A colleague once said, I didnt choose my topic; my topic chose me. A lot of us scholars, e specially women scholars who are moved by and moved to write about what we read, find truth in her words. My topic is a white house with black shutters. A peach tree in the front yard; a pear tree in the back both cut down by my father when the squirrels w ere winning the war of the fruit. We lived there, my older sister, younger brother, mom and dad, the dog that wandered in through the back yard gate, a guinea pig, cat, various fish. We lived there in the house at the top of the hill, at the top of Indepen dence Avenue. The house alone, however, did not make home; neither did just my family, but rather, the house, the family, community, and my neighborhood they all created for me a sense of home. Growing up there was much like Toni Morrisons description of her home, the place on which she modeled her first writing, The Bluest Eye : I felt a very strong sense of place, not in terms of the country or the state, but in terms of the details, the feelings, the mood of the community, of the town (qtd in Taylor G uthrie 10). Like Morrison, I did not know much about the world around me, about my country. Although independence is an inherent part of what makes us these United States, I knew little about what the word Independence meant, aside from the word printed on green street signs at both ends of the hill. Yet, the people around me were a microcosm of the world and country or, at least, the best our world and country can be. The older folks who lived up
vii and down the street: our adopted Aunt Annie and Uncle Mel, our frequent babysitters; Mrs. Thobin calling her cat every evening at dusk; The Morses and their granddaughter, my first friend; Mr. Duncanson passing his beautiful roses over the fence, careful of the thorns; The Deckers who drove my mother to the Ca tskills to pick up my fathers car, abandoned when he had his heart attack; and the younger couple, the Lays, who moved in a few years after my family, with their son, Graham, just my brothers size. We formed a neighborhood watch before the term was in vented. When a peeping Tom was violating Mrs. Clemmers privacy, we were there to call the police, to identify the criminal. When my dad died, they were all there with food and comfort, and a snow blower to clean out the driveway. When I was moving away fr om my home there in Middletown, New York to my new place in Orlando, Florida, Aunt Annie was my traveling companion. These people were my world, my country; their influences made me who I am today; their love and support enabled me to discover what indepen dence really meant, what it would become to my life. Like many of the characters I meet in the fiction that I read, I learned to create my own space in the world not just a geographical space, but a mental space. I created my space through my creative and educational endeavors. The walls of my space were widened and strengthened with every neighbor that showed for a school play, concert, or talent show, for my induction into the Arts Honors Society. My earliest memory, in fact, is a combination of my love f or literature and my love of home. I was sitting in the front yard, sitting Indian style under the peach tree (the peach tree still alive, preserved in this memory saved from my fathers chainsaw). I am there in my knitted poncho, the blue one with the pom poms draped down in the front, with a book in my lap, and I am
viii reading. It was on this day that I met Heidi, my first friend, as she and her grandmother were taking a walk together. They invited me into their home, a home that would become a second hom e to me for the next ten or more years of my life. Heidi and Aunt Annies granddaughter, Heather, joined me as I embarked in a life of literary creativity and performance art. Each summer, the neighbors gathered into my backyard to witness our most recent creative endeavor. I co wrote the scripts of plays that were acted out by Heidi, Heather, and me, by my brother and sister, the neighborhood kids. A brown wool blanket, pinned up to the posts of the back porch, acted as a makeshift curtain. On folding chai rs and picnic table benches in rows on the back lawn, the neighbors gathered, browsing through the programs I had made with the help of my costars, each program made by hand as the scribes used to do before the time of the printing press or the home comput er and printer. Like Esp e ranza in Sandra Cisneros House on Mango Street, I am who I am through experiences such as these, a childhood rich with combinations of literature, home, community, and friendship. I am strong and independent because of the help, encouragement, love, and friendship of my family and my community on Independence Avenue. This was my neighborhood; this was my family; this was my home. I grew into it and through it from age five until twenty five. I was torn away from my home when my f ather died and mom had to sell the house. It was then that I moved out on my own and proceeded through various short stays in non home conditions: the apartment in Massachusetts my first with heat that never worked through winter and windows that leaked wh en the snow began to melt; back to New York and the one room apartment invaded by swarms of flying termites; the
ix summer when I had no home but stayed with M om and P pre in Maine, my belongings in storage; and finally, the escape to the warmth of Florida w ith my then boyfriend, my now husband, John. Through the years I discovered that I wanted, indeed, I needed a neighborhood that would protect and support me, a family in a house where I felt comfort, safety, security, and love, a home like the one on Indep endence Avenue. Thus, home became the topic that chose me; from having a home to losing a home, I explored various definitions of home and what it means to have a true sense of place. Home became my scholarly obsession. I assigned writing exercises to my high school and college students, Look at yourself in fifteen years; how do you envision your home? Using all of your senses, describe your home in detail. In most everything I read I saw my obsession played out by various characters: Samuel Richardsons title character in Clarissa who ran away from home and learned to build her own non traditional home; the poet and servant, Mary Leapor, who found home through writing; Morrisons Claudia MacTeer narrating her home and Pecola Breedlove finding home solely in her mind in The Bluest Eye ; and the Convent women in Toni Morrisons Paradise struggling to make community in an untrusting society. These were the female characters who, like me, were either fighting to make or fighting to keep a home. They are a par t of me, a part of the home I continuously try to create for myself. We share a common need for the comfort, safety, security, privacy, ownership, and love of not just a house, but a home. Home may be where the heart is or liver or lung, where one hangs h er hat or beret or bonnet, but there is much in life that deprives one of a place where her heart can rest or her hat can hang without fear of theft. Each of the authors presented herein know this fact, perhaps intimately. In these characters and their hom es we see how difficult it is to
x build and maintain a sense of place, a home, in different time s in various cultures in many societies and under varying condition. As Minrose C. Gwin says: the term space has come to describe the swirl of social rela tions and productions in particular locations, whether these locations be material, cultural, or even psychological (6). The swirl of these obstacles that women and girls struggle through make up the heart of my work. Perhaps in knowing these characters then, in being allowed to travel with them through time, experience, environment, and struggle, I will, once again and finally, uncover home.
1 I ntroduction Whether called domestic sphere, utopia, felicitous space, or home, the physical and met aphorical space in which people dwell has occupied a position of importance in Western literature and thought spanning centuries. The Oxford English Dictionary lists the earliest uses of the word home in the tenth century as a collection of dwellings ( def. 1a) and a possession (def. 1b), both definitions now obsolete, as well as the still accepted dwelling placeones own house [ and] in N. Americaand increasingly elsewhere [frequently] used to designate a private house or residence merely as a bu ilding (def. 2a). Over time, however, the word has evolved. No longer merely the physical structure within which one lives, home has come to be, since the 16 th century, a more abstract, metaphoric term: a place, region, or state to which one properly bel ongs, in which ones affections centre, or where one finds refuge, rest, or satisfaction (def. 5). Furthermore, within the 20 th century the idea of home has taken up new importance among scholars in history ( Aris ; Ranum), literary criticism (Wall; How: F ryer; Martin and Mohanty), sociology (Hepworth; Chapman Gender, Spoiled, and Youve Got Him; Chapman and Hockey) feminist theory (Reagon; Rich; Pratt, Identity and Who Am I; hooks, Rethinking and Yearning ; Smith, Frye; Weir; Young) philosophy (B achelard), and anthropology (Kenyon; Birdwell Pheasant and Lawrence Zuniga; Olwig). Western society is largely responsible for the shift of the domestic sphere as less a physical location and more an ideology based on feelings and emotions a mental space
2 of comfort, pride, and community, a haven. Historian Philippe Aris suggests that the Renaissance marks the beginning of psychological changes in house dwelling as homeowners moved to increase privacy therein: Private stairways, halls, corridors, and ves tibules were provided to allow rooms to be entered without the need to pass through other rooms (7). Home was transforming into an emotional center, a place of privacy and refuge, to which people fled in order to escape the scrutiny of outsiders ( Ari s 8). Furthermore, room sizes were reduced and residents began to spend more time in smaller spaces such as annexes, offices, and alcoves. Literary critic Cynthia Wall notes the development of the closet during the Restoration Period as a significant mark of this move toward smaller spaces: the closet a private room within a private room marks the cultural interest in spatial interiority. Daily life was increasingly lived in the smaller rooms of the houses ( Narratives of Private Space 214). In the Vict orian Era, the desire for privacy in the home heightened as Victorians dreamed of possessing the ideal home, one that offered the kind of private life that individuals hope to achieve (Hepworth 17). Victorians ideal home was about maintaining appea rances. They wanted the ideal home to be one that symbolized their success in both the public and private spheres and showed the public that the owners were normal and respectable (Hepworth 17 18). In the late twentieth century, feminists began to chall enge concepts of the ideal home and the romanticizing of space Within home spaces the male heads of household felt the romantic ideal, a space of pride, privacy, and a haven from a difficult world. In the same house, however, women often experienced oppression as slaves of other peoples needs (Chapman, Youve Got Him 167). While many saw a community for
3 women as the answer, Bernice Johnson Reagon and Adrienne Rich argued against this as the desired destination. Reagon saw a space that excludes as useful for providing a nurturing space to decide who you really are (345) Rich adds that in such a place we can draw breath, rest from persecution or harassment, feel compassion and love around us rather than hostility or indifference [as with] a battered womans shelter, the door opened to us when we need a refuge ( 336). However, Rich cautions against using any space like an armored and concluded mind where the beleaguered Stranger [is barred from entering] the walled and guarded crime proof condominium. Such a space ceases to be a home, becoming instead a dead end in the mind and in the mapping of a life or a collective vision (336). Historically, the concept of the ideal home has been solely for the middle to upper class family. Yet the ideal was experienced differently by the various residents of the household. Upon returning from traveling or a day at work, the male homeowners experience the comfort of a clean and well maintained home space, the ideal : a n almost spiritual shelt er from the outside masculinised world of work (Bryden and Floyd 104). On the other hand, the female family members and the laboring classes did not feel sheltered from work. Indeed, it was their often physically and emotionally painful work that created and maintained this spiritual shelter for the male homeowner. Furthermore, this work has never been regarded as valuable labor (hooks, Rethinking 104) thereby leaving these individuals not just without a sense of home but also without a sense of prid e and accomplishment in their work Dislodged from feeling a sense of home, these individuals engage in metaphorical home building. W riting space, what James How terms epistolary space becomes for them, an alternate home space.
4 Various fictional works from the 18 th century to today represent the oppression within the home space as well as the work that goes into maintaining the home space, both of which lead the central female characters to experience metaphorical and sometimes physical homelessness Th is homelessness motivates the female characters to construct an alternative, a non traditional home space. This dissertation focuses on the various ruling class societal values that leave Mary Leapors Mira, Richardsons Clarissa, and Toni Morrisons Pecol a, Claudia, and the convent women homeless. I argue how these female characters find a voice and learn to express their wants and desires in the creative imaginings of writing moving beyond their oppression and building a home of their own. French philo sopher Gaston Bachelard writes of home in his 1958 work The Poetics of Space His philosophies provide concepts of home which I use to analyze fictional representations of home and homelessness experienced by female characters In his work, Bachelard explo res the connection between the human mind and the house as a product of the mind stressing th e role of metaphor in communicating the home experience He purposefully ignores hostile space, focusing his attention on felicitous space and images that at tract : the human values of the sorts of space that may be grasped, that may be defended against adverse forces, the space we love, eulogized space (xxxv). Above all, Bachelard notes the significance the imagination plays in transforming an inside spa ce into a place that offers an immediate well being, intimacy within a place we call home. Imagination in conjunction with action helps bring the individual out of him or herself and allows the ousted unconscious to make itself at home everywhere (10). The ousted unconscious relevant to this dissertation is
5 the oppression each character experiences, and the action is the creative expression of the imagination in writing. According to Judith Fryer, only once safe within the felicitous space, outside the restricted space of the middle class model house can the imaginative personindulge in the reverie that leads to creativity (46) and frees the imagination (293). The imaginative characters in this study write in order to deal with thei r oppression, to transform themselves from objects to subjects, and to make themselves at home everywhere in innovative ways and in non traditional spaces. The succinct categories set forth by anthropologist Liz Kenyon provide a useful structure through which we can evaluate the values female characters commonly express in building their homes. In her article, A Home from Home: Students Transitional Experience of Home, Kenyon draws on her study of undergraduate students in England, their concepts of home in the ir family home s in their present dorm life, and in their imagined future home of their own. Students, like the characters I examine in this dissertation, exist in a precarious position: they are still dependent on their parents but dream of the independence of their future homes. Indeed, their parents home becomes, as Bachelards theories posit, the cradle within which they are enclosed, protected before being cast into the world (7) and therefore the inspiration for creating their future homes. During the course of her research, Kenyon discovered that these students shared common values for their future homes, values she categorized as the temporal, personal, social, and physical home. These four categories offer insight into the values the characters in this dissertation try to make real in their current lives. The categories found in the study of college students in conjunction with Bachelards theories on the importance of imagination and metaphor in home building, as well as l iterary
6 criticism and multiple fields of research into home help to understand how writing/rewriting space allows various characters full access to all that the idealized home entails in constructing their individual homes. The Temporal Home Kenyon s first category, the temporal home, is stable and permanent [and] has the potential to be familiar and lasting (87) but is not easily attainable either for students or the characters studied in this dissertation. Bachelards use of illusions of stabi lity and the repetition of the words Oneirism and dream throughout his work suggest that stable and permanent and lasting are unrealistic, only possible through dreaming. This is part of the problem on which this dissertation focuses. In the texts I study, the female characters face and cope with the instability and impermanence of home as well as varying levels of societal oppression as they dream of a home of their own. There is no permanence for the ideal home not in fiction, not in reality. Therefore, this dissertation focuses on the in stability in the home, the struggles that the female characters experience in their home spaces, and the lack of a temporal home. Much of the oppression focused on in this dissertation is a result of abuse; mental abuse, physical violence, and even rape transform the home sphere from the ideal home to an unstable space, a prison. While a home may appear to be the ideal home, within the private walls of the home, the temporal home which has the potentia l to be familiar and lasting becomes instead a fear that, indeed, this dangerous space will be lasting.
7 The Social Home I relied on the hopefulness of all women together: what I felt, deep down, was hope that they would join me in my place, which would be the way I wanted it. I didnt want to have to limit myself -Minnie Bruce Pratt (Identity: Skin Blood Heart 30) Kenyons social home suggests what feminist Minnie Bruce Pratt argues is important to a sense of personal growth and of home, t he presence of other people. According to Kenyon, the social home requires three components: a living group of significant others, a supportive atmosphere where social and emotional needs [are] met and a friendly neighbourhood where the individual [beli eves] they [fit] and [belong] (90). Likewise, various anthropologists stress the importance of family to home. Karen Fog Olwig says family offers a notion of belonging, of feeling at home (83), and Donna Birdwell Pheasant and Denise Lawrence Zuniga id entify home as a place where people engage in a variety of economic, symbolic, and other activities that sustain the people who use it (1). In addition to Pratt quoted above, other feminists also extol the importance of sharing space with diverse groups of women. Straight, white, middle class, Christian women who had originally led the womens movement believed they spoke for all women, about all womens oppression (Adams 27; Leidner 47). However, as African Americans began to speak out about their contra sting experiences (Lorde; hooks), followed by lesbian women (Frye; Pratt; Gomez), the disabled (Klein), Jewish women (Rich) and other groups and sub groups, it was clear that diversity and the mutuality of sharing diverse experiences was essential if they were going to experience a supportive
8 atmosphere and tackle the oppression that had kept women from experiencing the positive values of a sense of home. This is the point where this dissertation veers away from Bachelards philosophies. Bachelard focus es on home as a private experience, one of extreme solitude where the individual is alone before God (32). Caren Kaplan argues against writings that romanticize solitude and suppress difference, instead pointing feminist writing toward a new focus on connections between different parts of the self [making] a world of possibilities out of the experience of displacement (198). While the characters in this study write privately and rely on solitude, I argue that these characters need other people for support and guidance in discovering their different parts of the self. The importance of people who help one feel belonging resonates in Kenyons idea of the social home. However, society often fails to s upport the female characters in this study. T herefore the characters seek out friends and family to provide them with the support and therefore the strength and self confidence they need to build a home of their own. Indeed, I argue that the social home becomes the most important category for each character to realize. Without the support of family or friends, these characters would not attain home. The Personal Home The final value of home that should be available to everyone [is] preservation. Home is the site of the construction and reco nstruction of ones self. Crucial to that
9 process is the activity of safeguarding the meaningful things in which one sees the stories of ones self embodied, and rituals of remembrance that reiterate those stories. -Iris Marion Young On Female Body Ex perience Through the telling and retelling of our stories to ourselves and to each other, we combine the conscious assumption of the oppressions and violence that have shaped us with the affirmation of belonging, and the transformation of the future. In d oing this, we are not simply affirming our identities of our homes, nor are we rejecting them to leap into the negativity of the future. Nor are we oscillating between affirmation and negativity, or resolving this opposition. We are engaging in a process o f transformative identification: through reinterpretive preservation we transform ourselves, and hold ourselves together, through struggle, and without denying any of the suffering and tragedy this entails. -Allison Weir Youngs and Weirs passages expr ess the importance of preserving the past in structuring identity and home, both for present and future. However Biddy Martin and Chandra Talpade Mohanty caution that to base home and identity on that old view would not be progress, would not offer any developmental notion of [ones] own identity or self. They recommend instead a constant expansion of [the] constricted eye, a necessary reevaluation and return to the past in order to move forward to the present (297). Barbara Smith, Kaplan, and bell hooks all argue in favor of drawing from the past, writing that we want very much to retain our blood connections without sacrificing ourselves to rigid and demeaning sex roles (Smith Introduction liii),
10 [salvage] from the past what can be made new (Kaplan 195) rather than breaking ties (hooks, Yearning 19) constructing a new space that Kaplan terms reterritorialization; we reinhabit a world of our making (195). Indeed, the past home does not become a mirror of ones present and future home but rather should set the foundation for the work to be done in constructing home. According to Kenyon, autonomy is at the heart of the personal home. Individuals work to realize a sense of independence and freedom drawing on their childhood homes in fulfi lling Kenyons home as a collection of memories (89). Bachelard has a similar notion of the importance of the past, noting that the entire past dwells in a house (5) and we comfort ourselves by reliving memories of protection (6). Jewelle Gomez write s that a black lesbian writer needs to create a home that is unadulterated, unsanitized, specific and not isolated from generations that have nurtured us. This will serve to create a literary record that is placed in a historical perspective so that we, w ho have been lost in the shadow of the past, can be revealed and appreciated for the powerful legacy we bear (122). Part of this task of preserving memory within the home is through housework. hooks speaks out in favor of housework, arguing that this work needs to be seen in a more favorable light, less as an oppressive chore. She recommends that children be taught to appreciate housework, for were they taught such: they might approach all work differently. They might see work as an affirmation of ones identity rather than a negation (Rethinking 105). Young furthers this idea explaining that keeping family items safe from trinkets to heirlooms women become the preservers of family histories: The work of preservation entails not only keeping the physi cal objects of
11 particular people intact, but renewing their meaning in their lives ( On Female Body Experience 142). And as with hooks who expresses a need for children to be taught the value of housework, Young says: Over and over the things must be dust ed and cleaned. Over and over the special objects must be arranged after a move. ...The stories must be told and retold to each new generation to keep a living, meaningful history ( On Female Body Experience 143). For the characters in this study, their p asts are plagued by oppression induced through their societys rigid separation of the laboring class and their employers, as well as sexist and racist attitudes. Their societies from eighteenth century England to late twentieth century America seek to exc lude so as to achieve societal norms: Mary Leapors Miras superiors scold her for writing because she is not of the class that has the leisure to engage in it ; Clarissa is excluded from making her own decisions for her future and not allowed to own proper ty because she is not male; Pecola and Claudia are excluded from societal ideals of beauty because they are not white; the convent women are excluded from Ruby, the town outside the convent, because they are not black enough; not practicing the acceptable organized religion, the traditions of the Christian faith; and not governed by male authority. In creating their personal home, therefore, the female characters in this study use their pasts and their past struggles to effect the positive, and they find a voice for their own desires, a voice that speaks out against the societal forces that oppress them. Identity certainly plays a significant role in home making, and as is the case for the women in this study, their identities are based on that which they learned from their past. According to Orest Ranum, in the past the individual identified most intimately with certain particular places an identification
12 effected by means of emotions, actions, prayers, and dreams (207). This past is integral to the gro wing sense of independence these characters need to build their own home, for indeed when people make such an investment in their home, [they do so] because they hope to create a sphere where they have control over their environment to mould it to their own needs of comfort and security, style and personal morality (Chapman, Spoiled Home 134). Therefore, the individual voices that these characters find grow independent of societal norms as they reflect each of their own personalities, their beliefs, t heir needs, and personal wishes rather than societally acceptable spiritual and moral beliefs and societal ideals of womans place, rights, and ideal beauty. The Physical Home This task of making homeplace was not simply a matter of black women providi ng service; it was about the construction of a safe place where black people could affirm one another and by so doing heal many of the wounds inflicted by racist domination. it was there on the inside, in that homeplace, most often created and kept by black women, that we had the opportunity to grow and develop, to nurture our spirits. -b ell hooks, Yearning It is too much to ask, perhaps, even in the ideal, that everyone can be safe anywhere. The potential for violence and conflict cannot be eradicat ed from the world. But it is not too much to ask that everyone have a home in which they can feel physically safe and secure. -Iris Marion Young On Female Body Experience
13 bell hookss idea of homeplace and Youngs physically safe and secure home s pace, as with Kenyons final category of home, the physical home, consists of experiencing home as a safe haven (Kenyon 93). With the womens movement and consciousness raising groups on the rise in the 60s and 70s, communities of women were seen as a solution for constructing a safe home place for women. A community that excludes can provide a force field which sustains and protects as Marilyn Frye calls for with a community of lesbians, protecting the residents from the ravages of misogyny and he terosexualism, [and] even, for some in some ways from the violence of racism and poverty (210). On the other hand, Weir argues against the pessimism that breeds such a need for exclusion writing that we [must] move beyond cynicism with respect to the po ssibility of safety: beyond the conviction that reality is inevitably characterized by oppression and exclusion, and that safety is just a nostalgic dream (8). As the number of home invasions grew in the late 20 th century, however, personal safety in th e home became a more pressing and common place issue. In response, law enforcement agencies issued crime prevention literature detailing specific security measures necessary to secure the home space (Chapman and Hockey 11). Much research focuses on safety as a key component to a sense of home. Researchers now understand that not everyone experiences home the same way: Too many poor peasants and barrio dwellers in the world cannot sleep peacefully in their homes without fear that paramilitary squads will ro use them, rape them, shoot them, or carry them away in the dark (Young On Female Body Experience 151). Furthermore, and appropriate to this study, women do not always experience the ideal home as a safe haven: adolescent girls, women wishing to separ ate from a male partner and older single women are often
14 advised, either implicitly or explicitly, of the special dangers that face them in public space (Chapman and Hockey 11). Fryer calls the closed space of home for women a battleground where woman has been unable to move (50). These women and children, then, are often bound to the home, fostering a dependence on the very men they are trying to escape, unable to move away from the very men who represent special dangers of their own within the h ome sphere. Sociologist Tony Chapman notes the need for home to be a secure, private, physical retreat from the outside world ( Gender 10). According to Bachelard, the house protects the dreamer, allows one to dream in peace (6) and is a place we dre am of in search of a real refuge (31). Against the ideal visions of safety or safe communities based on exclusion, Weir suggests instead an alternate possibility for safety within the home, that of home as a place of risk: the risk of connection, of sustaining relationship through conflict. Thus, rather than oscillating between the desire for a safe, secure, conflict free home and the recognition that homes are in fact sites of violence and abuse, predicated on oppression and exclusion, we can recogni ze and affirm an ideal of home as a space of mutuality and conflict, of love and its risks and struggles, of caring and conflictual connections to others. (8) This dissertations focus on the struggles within traditional home spheres highlights the charact ers need for the protected space found in a physical home but incorporating the risk of connection to bring about such a safe space. Each character having been oppressed within the domestic sphere recognizes the importance of safety in home building a nd realizes that this safety is temporary. Despite these realizations, however,
15 the supportive atmosphere of the social home and the confidence of the personal home helps each character find the strength to continue her struggle to realize home, to bui ld and rebuild and to write and rewrite her space into a physical home of her own. The Texts In 1998, Toni Morrison completed her historical trilogy which began with Beloved and Jazz and finished with Paradise. With Paradise Morrison introduced her r eader to a near utopian community of women living in a convent outside Ruby, Oklahoma. Morrisons alternative construction of home fascinated me so greatly that I was inspired to return to graduate school to begin my research into the metaphorical concept of home and an examination of the manner by which other authors approach this concept in literature. This dissertation is the culmination of those years of research. Each chapter in this dissertation focuses specifically on the oppressed female character within the home space. Female characters from a young child to a grown woman, from the working class to the middle class exist within societally prescribed notions of home. I organize each chapter by first introducing the various societal inequalities and their effects on the character, followed by the ways the character struggles to build her home, doing so ultimately through a creative process, rewriting her home space and transforming it into a home. Each of the four chapters argues that with the sup port of family and friends a female character finds the strength to fight back against the various inequalities that otherwise constrict her home space. With the supportive atmosphere of her social home in place, each character experiences a sense of independence and freedom and confidence with which to rewrite her space,
16 building new memories for her personal home and feeling the overall comfortable environment of her physical home space. The literature with which I chose to begin this diss ertation was based on a desire to examine how a woman with very few rights within society would construct a home, even a metaphorical home. This thought led me to examine the life of servants as depicted in eighteenth century fiction. Mary Leapors poetry was ideal for this, for not only was her poetry fiction, but she herself lived a dual existence as both writer and servant. Leapors poetry depicts a different dimension to the work that goes into home construction including housework which is important to preserving the memories of a personal home. Here she did not have family to contend with but society and societal expectations for a woman of her status and the housework she engaged in not for the preservation of memories but for her employers. This brings to mind the question of how one can feel at home in a space that is not, in fact, her home. Chapter one, then, focuses on Mary Leapors writing as she expresses her struggle to build a home. Leapors poems, An Epistle to Artemisia. On Fame and The Epistle of Deborah Dough, express the grief both Leapor and her fictional representation of herself, Mira, experience, the difficulties of being a lowly servant with keen poetic abilities. Leapor/Mira finds herself up against those who chastise her fo r writing when her station in life demands a more appropriate outlet for her energy housework. In addition, in Crumble Hall, Leapor/Mira speaks of the struggle she experiences at the hands of the aristocracy during a critical historical moment in economi c transition manifest in landscape architecture. In response to this, Leapor pens her version of the country house poem, thereby creating a comfortable environment for a physical home.
17 For chapter two, I turned to an eighteenth century epistolary nov el that had peaked my interest, not merely for the fact that it was written by a male writer, Samuel Richardson, but because of the struggles the title character, Clarissa, worked through to build a surprising home in a coffin, a home fortified by her many letters to her family and friends. Clarissa had everything that Mary Leapor didnt: money, the freedom to write at her leisure, and servants to wait on her. Yet the presence of Clarissa in this dissertation shows how great the familial influence is when i t denies the daughter any sense of home, treating her as property, treating her in a manner I consider to be less than that bestowed upon a servant. Richardsons novel portrays sexism in a context of growing capitalism, depicting the lengths a family will go to advance their own circumstances. Of interest here is that the middle class Clarissa undergoes oppression in the home just as the working class Mira had. Clarissas oppression, however, results from her familys desire to marry her off to a wealthy m an, even resorting to violence to achieve their goals. Clarissa struggles in various dwellings after escaping her childhood home, but her friends, especially Anna Howe, help her to build a social home through which she gathers enough mental strength to o rder her house, taking great pleasure in the construction of something she has never been allowed, something women in the eighteenth century were not always legally granted personal property, a space of her own, a place to call her own, and most importan t, the independence and freedom of a personal home and a safe haven within her physical home. With Morrisons Paradise still in mind as the final chapter of this dissertation, I decided to examine a text closer to the setting of this novel for my third chapter. Since Morrison set Paradise in the mid 70s in the midst of womens consciousness raising
18 groups and greater equality for women, for chapter three I chose to look backward to a time in American history when womens rights and rights of Afric an Americans were still young 1940. With her first novella, The Bluest Eye, Morrison depicts adolescent African American female characters. Pecola Breedlove and Claudia MacTeer become important to this study for they represent the stage where home constru ction begins the childhood when the memories of the personal home are in the process of being collected. Their situations are unique to this dissertation for not only must they struggle against gender and racial inequality but must also deal with the l ack of rights they have because of their age. Yet struggle they do. Since the creation of the first homes, the kitchens role has been the focal point of the social home, the place where family, neighborhood, and community unite. The hearth has retain ed a symbolic status as the heart of the house. 1 Toni Morrison captures the role the kitchen plays in her young characters developing sense of home. Drawing on various psychological theories regarding the importance of family in a childs intellectual de velopment, this dissertation outlines Morrisons juxtaposition of two childhood homes and especially of the kitchen therein one healthy and the other destructive (Benjamin and Karen). In Pecola Breedlove, Morrison explores the absence of a supportive atmo sphere as Pecola lack s an accepting mother and an appropriate father figure and is neglected by both her family and the community. Pecola, like her eighteenth century counterparts, constructs home out of this oppression, but her home is imagined in the aw ful space of her broken psyche. In the MacTeer kitchen, however, Claudia learns the importance of memories, for her p ersonal home, a supportive atmosphere for her s ocial home, and a
19 com fortable environment for her p hysical home. Morrison juxt aposes Pecola Breedloves experiences in the white familys and her own familys kitchen s against Claudias certainty of what makes a house a home (a complete, three tiered home environment) so as to highlight the necessity of a supportive atmosphere in home construction Claudia experiences oppression as she deals with the effects of poverty and witnesse s societys treatment of Pecola However, Claudia has what Pecola has not: a supportive atmosphere positive memories a safe haven, and a comfort able environment to help her through it. Claudia has the necessary elements of home in place and as an adult is able to implement these ele ments in voic ing her anger, writ ing Pecolas story, expos ing the communitys failure to help one of its younger me mbers achieve home, and thereby writ ing a home for both Pecola and herself. Finally, chapter four returns to the origin of this dissertation. In Morrisons convent women I discovered a spiritual ritual that transformed a space of conflict due to diversity a space where diverse women bickered and fought became a space of harmony due to diversity, a space of peace and healing. Yet I was more intrigued by the continual work that these women put into building and then maintaining home, the ongoing struggle. A nd I wondered if Morrison could have created such a strong community of women in a different setting, in a different time and place. This was the thought process that had led me backward in time, to examine the space of home and how female characters in li terature experienced it, from eighteenth century to contemporary, characters representing various ages, socio economic statuses, and races. While many critics view Paradise s ending as negative, an ecocritical view reveals the novels positive themes: h ope for creating a better future and a full sense of
20 home in literature, for instead of telling a disjointed story of disappointment and destruction, an ecocritical reading introduces the beauty that is the interconnectedness of nature, religion, and A frican American identity (Tolman 12). However, while Paradise does benefit from an ecocritical approach, the womens story benefits, likewise, from an understanding of witchcraft studies an approach heretofore not discussed. Through the practice of spiri tual rituals of empowerment, belly dancing, and the hierarchical structure of feminist spiritual ity, the convent women are enabled to build a paradisiacal sense of community, heal themselves of their various ordeals, and experience a personal, social, and physical home. While many traditional religions have not always been a spiritual home for women, feminist spirituality, a series of womens relig ious groups formed in the 1970s, provides an alternative, empowering religion, one devoted to women. Mo rrisons novel, set in the 70s, depicts the convent women engaging in spiritual acts closely resembling those of feminist spiritualism, acts that, I argue, allow them to reach a paradisiacal home even while it sets them at odds with the Christian communiti es in Ruby, the town outside the convent. In this last text, the female characters, the convent women, find the support of Consolata Sosa who helps heal their mental pain and build a home of their own. Furthermore, this paradisiacal home contrast s with th e other homes examined in this dissertation; as opposed to Miras, Clarissas, Pecolas, and Claudias home construction, the convent women accomplish each of the following: they find a spiritual home in life rather than death; their physical work becomes their home and not that which interferes with home; they create home by healing their mental sufferings and not falling
21 i nto complete mental breakdown, and their actions show that a supportive atmosphere need not come from blood family but from people o f their own choosing. Having suffered discomfort or violence within the confines of their own more traditional homes, Mary Leapors Mira, Samuel Richardsons Clarissa, and Toni Morrisons Pecola Breedlove, Claudia MacTeer, and the convent women all str ive for alternative homes. Each character embraces the three categories of home that Kenyon articulates, personal, social, and physical. They dream of home in a reality where life refuses them a home of their own or even a room of ones own. Yet ex cept for Pecola, each of these characters is able to make real their imagined sense of home through writing. An analysis of these characters shows that despite experiencing distress in the home, with the support of friends and family and by means of creati ve expression, in writing, these characters persist in their goal of achieving home regardless of whether they are wealthy young women, poor servant girls, or African American children raised in poverty and racism, in e ighteenth century England or contempo rary America.
22 Notes 1. When the Dutch settled in New York, they created warmth (both literal and figurative) and togetherness with the fireplace as the catalyst to such feelings. Dutch fireplaces were really open hearths with a firehood, located agains t a wall. The mantles projected so far into the room, five or six feet being frequent, that it was easy for people to gather virtually around the fire (Crowley John 95). Of course the fire was essential to keeping the residents warm in the cold of winter but it also brought family and friends to a centralized location encouraging communication and a sense of unity. More information on the kitchen in the earliest American homes can be found in John E Crowleys The Invention of Comfort: Sensibilities & Design in Early Modern Britain & Early America, Alice Morse Earles Home Life in Colonial Days, and Wendell Garrett, David Larkin, and Michael Webbs American Home: From Colonial Simplicity to the Modern Adventure.
23 Chapter 1 Remodeling the Fragmented E state: A Study of Home Space in Mary Leapors Crumble Hall Many people dream of home as sitting in a comfortable space: clean, organized, furnished well, and with signs of family and friends throughout. They welcome friends into their home, throw dinner parties to entertain, invite guests to spend the night, ask outsiders to make themselves at home. These dreams were not so different to those in the upper classes in the eighteenth century. If guests dropped in, the homeowners welcomed them inside, led them past the clean and organized entryway, entertained them in the well furnished parlor, and likely, invited them into the dining room. Certainly today there are servants who cook and clean for families, but this is not as commonplace as it was in the e ighteenth century and earlier. Due to an increasing desire for privacy within the home sphere in the last two centuries, even rarer is the live in servant. In the eighteenth century, however, multiple servants were known to reside in their work space, in t he homeowners home space. Eighteenth century poet Mary Leapor was one such employee. Hired as a kitchen maid, she would have been responsible for the following duties: To roast & boil butchers meat & all manner of fowls. To clean all the rooms bel ow stairs. To make the servants beds & to clean all the garrets. To clean the great & little stairs.
24 To scour the pewter & brass. To help wash, soap & buck. Or to do anything she is ordered (Greene, Mary Leapor: A Study 17) Leapor would have carr ied out duties such as these for Susanna Jennenss family at Weston Hall and later the Chauncy family at Edgcote (the model for Crumble Hall) (Greene and Messenger xix xxiii). While I find Leapors job description interesting, I question how a live in se rvant such as Leapor could feel both pride in her housework and pleasure in a home when the physical house was not her own. Yet Leapor conveys a sense of home in her poem Crumble Hall. Indeed, her poetry becomes an ideal place to discuss the negotiations people make in conceiving of and bringing home spaces to fruition. Leapors poetry stands as an excellent source for understanding the pressures that face those who live and work within the same space. I argue that, through writing, Leapor constructs a mo st unconventional home for herself and her fellow servants. Lifes Great Blessing: The Importance of Friendship in Developing a Sense of Home Still give me pleasing Indolence, and Ease;/ A Fire to warm me, and a Friend to please. -Mary Leapor, A n Essay on Woman Your friendship is, I believe, the only happiness in my life. For the members of my family are in truth my worst enemies: a cruel father, a wretched brotherO Boswell! Believe me, I love you as myself, and when I die I shall thank God ab ove all else for having given me your friendship. -Reverend William Johnson Temple, 24 June 1767
25 Crumble Hall begins with a disheartened, disillusioned, and depressed Mira, Leapors persona, feeling abandoned by both Friends and Fortune: WHEN Fri ends or Fortune frown on Miras Lay, Or gloomy Vapours hide the Lamp of Day; With lowring Forhead, and with aching Limbs, Oppressd with Head ach, and eternal Whims, Sad Mira vows to quit the darling Crime: Yet takes her Farewel, and repents, in Rhym e. (1 6) Mira expresses her feelings at the end of the workday after having completed her menial servant girl tasks. She moves along sluggishly, Oppressd both in body and spirit. Her aching Limbs suggest the great physical exertion that goes into the various tasks expected of a servant girl (see Greenes list above). Miras sheer exhaustive state is not, however, caused by her physical labor alone but by being both laborer and poet. Richard Greene argues that like her persona, Leapor  found it extr emely difficult to suit her mind to her Condition, that is, the imperatives of rank and gender. She wrote poem after poem on the subject of contentment (Mary Leapor: The Problem 223). Miras contentment, as Leapor expresses through her poetry, seeme d but a dream. Mira had to deal with how outsiders received her Lay, often unfavorably, expressed by the all powerful facial expression, the frown. Miras Fortune, the negative response combined with her standing as a member of the servant class, lea ves her mentally exhausted, Oppressd with Head ach. William J. Christmas explains the difficulty with which Leapor negotiates her contrary wants and societal expectations: We have seen Leapor discuss partial fate and the chains of want which togeth er keep her engaged in
26 menial labor and stymie her poetic imagination. These are two aspects of her life which render Leapor neither happy nor content (166). Leapor shows a discontented Mira weighed down by extreme mental pressures. Miras eternal Whims and her darling Crime combine to create a physical pressure upon Miras body: the lowring [of her] Forhead. Leapor describes these troubles to her mind further in The Head ach. To Aurelia. Her headache, caused by her writing, troubles her worse tha n the trifling pains felt by those scorned in love: Not Cuckolds half my Anguish know (l. 13) and Not Sappho when her Caps awry,/ Eer felt such tortring Pangs as I (ll. 18 19). Mira must find a way out of her lowered state so she may retain her dar ling Crime. Many deem friendship to be essential to a sense of home. Eighteenth century fiction and thought, however, suggests conflicting definitions of friend and friendship. On one hand, friendship means a kinsman or near relation 1 (def. 3) or ev en those residing together within a household (servants included together with the homeowners). On the other hand, friendship can be a more mutual experience, consciously chosen, as expressed in eighteenth century British philosopher Abraham Tuckers Light of Nature Pursued: If we observe the common discourses of mankind, we shall find a friend to be one we frequently visit, who is our boon companion, or joins with us in our pleasures and diversions, or [etc.] (qtd. in friend, def. 1a). A friendship, su ch as Tucker describes, helps one build a sense of home. This home space, in turn, would provide the comfort and peace of mind conducive to writing, that which Liz Kenyon deems necessary to a physical, social, and personal home. 2 In the eighteenth c entury, friendships were developed based on societal standing:
27 Both rural and urban society pretended to ignore or at best to tolerate any peer friendship not sanctioned by society. Conceptualized as a relation of perfect reciprocity, friendship was someth ing extra, something distinct from normal social relations. It existed outside the family, often in institutions that replaced the family on a temporary or permanent basis: the school, youth cohorts, the army. The existence of such friendships implies th e existence of a sphere of freedom ( Aymard 458) A f riendship born of a platonic union between two companions who choose each other without societal intervention is often an integral part of ones home. Bridget Freemantle built her friendship with Mary Lea por of her own volition, admir ing Leapors poetry, then encouraging her to write, and even bestowing upon her a physical gift symbolic of her admiration, encouragement, and overall support: a writing desk. Leapor reciprocated Freemantles friendship, honor ing her friend in writing, addressing a number of poems to Freemantle (Kord 265). Such symbols of friendship represent Leapors independence, her act of choosing her friend for the values she represents as well as for Freemantles support and guidance. Thr ough friendship freely exchanged, Mary Leapor achieves the supportive atmosphere needed for her social home. Through her construction of Crumble Hall, Leapor shows the importance of friendship for establishing independence in the personal home. L eapor begins the poem with mental exhaustion and depression caused by the types of friends Leapor derides insincere and not supportive of her poetic gift. In Essay on Friendship she says, The main Ingredient [in friendship] is an honest heart (l. 36)  And Lifes great Blessing a well chosen Friend (l. 125). Leapor knew people who did not fall into
28 this category. Ladies sent for her tragedy to while away a dull afternoon. They praised her, and they laughed at her.  Gentlemen more than once look ed over her verses and returned them in virtual silence.  Nothing more; no help proffered. [An Epistle to Artemisia. On Fame] rings the changes on the thoughtless and heartless responses her work evoked  (Rizzo, Molly 317). These men and women did not support and encourage Leapor as did Bridget Freemantle. Thus, Leapor writes over the exhaustion and depression in the beginning of Crumble Hall with the introduction of the supportive and encouraging Artemisia (Leapors poetic name for Freemantle ). Employing synecdoche, Leapor describes Artemisia, focusing on the part of her body that symbolizes approval, support, and friendship: But see (more charming than Armidas Wiles) The Sun returns, and Artemisia smiles. (ll. 7 8) Mira finds comfort in the smile of a friend especially as this body language contrasts with the Frown which her insincere Friends show her; Mira, thereby, finds the strength necessary to believe in herself and her work. She can now carry on with her poetic endeavors despite n egative criticism or unfavorable responses from her so called Friends. Freemantles importance to Leapors poetry is clear. A great percentage of Leapors poems are addressed either to the name Leapor gives her friend in her poetry, Artemisia, or addres sed in a polite manner with Dear Madam. Betty Rizzo notes that these poems about her hopes, fears, dreams, and the new events of her life seek out Freemantles understanding of Leapors difficult existence. She adds: For the first time in her life Lea por was experiencing the intoxicating encouragement of whole hearted
29 approval ( Molly 322). Meeting Freemantle Leapor found the supportive atmosphere essential to the creation of a social home, and on this foundation of friendship, Leapor builds her physical home, her own Crumble Hall. 3 Of Unwanted Creatures In the eighteenth century, a movement toward privacy was underway within the home sphere, as homeowners removed servants from the view of both the owners and their guests. Servants had tra ditionally eaten in a main hall but owners later assigned them to their own little hall to eat in (Girouard, Life 136). The homeowners need for privacy motivated them to move Servants quarters  to the basement from their usual position on the top floors, and servants stairs were added at the back of houses (Dalporto 237). As a result of these changes, servants  became, if not invisible, very much less visible ( Girouard, Life 138). Such a move accentuated the servants lack of ownership and thereby freedom, and it deprived the servants of home space. In Crumble Hall, however, we see no sign of the homeowners. Leapor rewrites home, usurps the home owners power and space, and gives the narrative voice and the role of a higher servant to her Mira instead.  Leapor adopts the guidebook format without imposing on her implied tourist any duty of admiration, offering instead a disenchanting survey which rises at best to faint praise. Furthermore, an adapted medieval house like Edgecote would no t have been considered a showplace in her time; and it would have fallen to a housekeeper, not a mere kitchenmaid, to represent the owner in showing visitors round the house (Rumbold 67)
30 Leapor invites the reader into the role of house guest with Mira ap pearing as our guide, first relating the history of the estate, then leading us through various rooms of interest, and ending outside for a tour of the grounds. 4 Leapor would have been fully aware that experiencing comfort and safety in a physical home comes after much toil. In Leapors day, the servants were hired to make sure the homeowners saw very little of the work but much of the outcome of the work. Through Miras excursion, the reader is privy to a side of the estate that the homeowners would ens ure their guests never experience. We soon discover that Miras tour is atypical of the homeowner with guest. She draws our attention not to views of grandeur and aesthetically pleasing dcor but to the dust and the grime and the workforce responsible for removal of such mess. Mira shows us unconventional views of the various decorations and furnishings within the home space as well as various residents hidden from the view of guests. She invites her guests to experience the home space in a different manner than that of the homeowner. The tour is partially or fully devoid of the actual owners presence, as well as absent of cleanliness, order, and appropriate furnishings all that make up the comfort of the owners home space. That Crumble Hall, whose hospi table Door Has fed the Stranger, and relievd the Poor; Whose Gothic Towers, and whose rusty Spires, Were known of old to Knights, and hungry Squires. (ll.13 16) Hospitality was essential in maintaining home spaces. In 1794, Robert Fraser described the class of yeomanry in the South Hams region in England as exemplifying such old English hospitality:
31 They live in great comfort, and exercise without parade, that old English hospitality which the refinements of modern manners have banished from many ot her parts of the Kingdom. I observed with much pleasure the attention they paid to their various dependants around them, and their kindness to the poor. Nothing can evince this more strongly than the agreements they have entered into, in the most parts of this district, to supply the labourers and the neighbouring poor with grain, at certain fixed moderate prices, an example well worthy of more general imitation (qtd in Fletcher 36) Leapors poem suggests that the above description was practiced in Crumb le Hall as well, for the hospitable Door had once stood open to the hungry Stranger, Knight, or Squire. 5 The owners of Crumble Hall seem to have abandoned hospitality in abandoning their home readying their house for the improvements to come. Amo ng these improvements, the commons once used by the local community were to be closed off and consolidated so as to enhance the country houses gardens and provide the landowner with increased property (Dalporto 228; Christie 6). According to Jeannie Dalpo rto, the  past system of economic relations, [allowed for] the landowners property [providing] the basis for stable and harmonious class relations and agricultural abundance (236). Leapor indirectly criticizes the owners of Crumble Hall for revokin g the hospitality they had once so readily pr offered and for closing off land that had once been the location of small farms and commons. A single place where neighboring families could share land and grow food suggests community and a friendly
32 neighbou rhood, part of the dreamed of home space (87). As Ronald Fletcher notes, however, home values were changing from that old English hospitality to the refinements of modern manners. The importance of private property and luxury in general was of great i mportance as the landed society sought to increase their wealth through growing capitalism, involving themselves in banking and commerce as well as the building of towns, villages, and cities (Christie 9 11 and 16). Furthermore, of great consternation to L eapor was the act of enclosure as c ountry house owners removed the public grounds from the use of the neighborhood, thus dividing the community in order to increase their wealth. In response to this change, Leapor offers a counter renovation to the estate. In verse, she removes the owners and rebuilds the space left behind. Through her poetic constructions, she supplies a home to the back stage, or behind the scenes residents, all the while playing with the standards of country house poetry. 6 Christmas des cribes the country house poem as a panegyric based on Ben Jonsons To Penshurst which is literally addressed to a house, but its purpose is foremost to praise its owners (171). In a country house poem, poets accomplish praise by placing the home ow ners in their home environment without sign of workers either inside or out. Removing the servants suggests that the homes beauty needs no outside aid: nature  furnishes forth its riches of its own accord (Mandell, Demystifying 563). However, while Leapor is writing a poem about a country house, and while Mira and her muse are singing of Crumble Hall, this poem is certainly no Lay in praise or honor of the homeowners. As scholars point out, Leapor does not remove the servants from the finished p roduct the polished, clean and charming home. Rather, she flips the traditional country house poem upside down by removing the homeowners and inserting
33 the servants in their place (Christmas; Mandell Demistifying and Misogyny and Feminism ; and Dalpart o). Mira further shocks our expectations by drawing our attention to the smallest of living creatures within the estate, a spider, soon followed by her introduction of a group of mice. Inclusion of the servants and their work within a country house poem is striking enough, but to point out an arachnid and rodents risks exposing the truth of the estate that it is not always as perfect as the eye may sense at first glance. Leapor exposes every minute detail, purposefully choosing each creature she introduces, thereby emphasizing a sense of equality for those typically deprived of home. The Roof no Cyclops eer could reach so high: Not Polypheme, tho formd for dreadful Harms, The Top could measure with extended Arms. Here the pleasd Spider plants her pea ceful Looms: Here weaves secure, nor dreads the hated Broom. (ll. 43 47) The spider within the poem is a concrete, realistic detail. Any homeowner knows the difficulty of keeping a dwelling completely pest free. Leapors use of the spider, however, sugges ts more than the literal; she presents us with a striking place to continue our discussion of the development of a sense of home. In this passage, Leapor employs the feminine pronoun, her , rather than the generic its. Leapor focuses on the spider as if s he is not just an arachnid but rather lives, breathes, and even feels human like in her existence. Leapor shows the necessity of a safe haven even for a small creature, using personification to emphasize the feelings that accompany a sense of home: p leasd, peaceful, and secure. [T]he spider  feels at home where the dust accumulates (Fairer 230). Indeed, Leapor writes a physical home in which the spider exist s
34 Furthermore, Leapor writes a long term home for her spider, for it cannot be touched by the hated Broom. Christmas makes a biographical connection between Leapors job as laborer and these lines, saying: The observation that the spiders web is safe from the hated Broom is possible, we infer, because the poet herself once tri ed, or was ordered, to remove it (174). While Christmass practical interpretation may be valid, Leapor may also be employing a poetic convention of the time. A spider is not merely an arachnid, but holds greater importance to the writer, for, T he cunnin g, skill, and industry of the spider, as well as its power of secreting or emitting poison, are freq uently alluded to in literature (def. 1a). Poets saw in the spider the perfect analogy for the poet skillful and industrious in the creation of his or her texts. Of these poets, Anne Finch wrote A Fable Imitated from Monsieur de la Fontaine (41) which she entitled, The Goute and Spider, and i n 1697 Jonathan Swift wrote his own fable, a story of the Spider and the Bee in A Full and True Account of the Ba ttel Fought Last Friday, Between the Antient and the Modern Books in St. Jamess Library. Examining Finchs poem, Paula R. Backscheider argues that Finch plays three roles in her poem: the spider (a fury from thInfernal pitt),  the good wife who al ertly sweeps the cobwebs away, and  Ardelia of the final verse (Who by a tender and officious care will ease his pain) (60). Malcolm J. Bosse sums up Swifts fable : The modern writer, like the spider, spins out of his own self and mistakes the usefu lness of mathematical design for beauty; the writer who respects tradition takes sustenance, like the bee, from a variety of rich sources (8). 7 Leapors spider, too, may be seen as representative of Leapor and her poetic ability especially when we examine Swifts spider arguing with the bee over both acts of creation. In Swifts tale, a spider admonishes the bee for lacking what this
35 dissertation holds dear, a House or Home (246). In contrast, the spider extols his own home : This large Castle  all bu ilt with my own Hands, and the Materials extracted altogether out of my own Person (246). However, the bee points out to the spider that the spider does, indeed, rely on a little forein Assistance (247). This description of the spider parallels Leapors qualities as a working class poet, in possession of little formal education or training, but drawing from a natural ability enhanced by those texts available to her. The similarities between the spider in Leapors poetry and Swifts do not stop there, ho wever. In fact, there are similarities in the text of each poets works, a nd therefore, a chance that Swifts work was among those texts from which Leapor drew her inspiration. In describing the spiders web : upon the highest Corner of a large Window, S wift s words correspond with Leapors own description : The Roof no Cyclops eer could reach so high (l. 43). The height of both poets webs provides each spider with a feeling of safety: Swifts without Danger to his Person by Swallows from above, or to his Palace by Brooms from below (243) and Leapors Here weaves secure, nor dreads the hated Broom (l. 47). Furthermore, this safety leaves each spider feeling a sense of comfort in his (Swifts chosen pronoun) and her (Leapors chosen pronoun) indi vidual abodes: Swifts In this Mansion, he had for some Time dwelt in Peace and Plenty (243) and Leapors Here the pleasd Spider plants her peaceful Looms (l. 46). Indeed, one cannot fail to see the analogy between these gendered spiders and the indiv idual poets and therefore between Leapor and Mira and the spider. Leapor spins her tale, her poetry ; t he spider spins her art, her web ; and Mira turns the readers attention to the spider, her web, the dust, dirt, and various household pests the unwanted t hat make
36 up this home. Overall, Leapor is the spider who weaves her words into poetry creating a home space for the servants who work in Crumble Hall as well as for its next residents, the mice Mira continues our grand tour, following our introductions to the spider with a sighting of some mice, making Leapors Crumble Hall seem lively, a great benign storehouse where many lives [nonhuman and human] can be lived (Fairer 230). Safely the Mice through yon dark Passage run, Where the dim Windows nee r admit the Sun. (ll. 52 53) Leapor once again deviates from the traditional style of the country house poem, as she makes room in her home to non human creatures. Notice the echoing of peaceful and secure which make up the spiders home, for the mice are able to move about the house Safely. Leapor builds a physical home for the mice among the spooky, dark passageways where the mice find an ideal refuge (Fairer 230). Leapors construction of home may not allow the reader, or even Miras guests, a feeling of being at home. However, as David Fairer explains: Mira enjoys squeezing the mice and the disoriented visitor into the same space. The gothic character of the house is clearly double edged. In the mind of the Stranger it may create sublime terror; but for Mira, who k nows the place, its elements of wildness and confusion create a mixed economy in which all forms of life, however humble, can find a home ( Fairer 230 1). Furthermore, Leapors choice of Mice works well as a resident of Crumb le Hall. Certainly Mice running around country manors was common, but Greek mythology links the mouse to the Greek god, Apollo, lending support to Leapor and her poetic endeavors: According to lian, In the temple of Apollo Smintheus, mice are nourishe d, and food is offered to them, at the
37 public expense, and white mice dwell beneath the altar (qtd in Lang 80) The connection of the mouse to Apollo is most interesting for Apollo is the god of music and poetry in charge of the choir of Muses. Miras ca talogue of occupants suggests she occupies a place with the unwanted creatures of Crumble Hall but finds support from the gods above. Of Rooms and Furnishings With a partial support system in place in her poetic home, Mira guides us through various ro oms in Crumble Hall, making her way to the scene of activity and the heart of the home, the kitchen. In her depiction of the kitchen, however, Mira does not yet invite us to see the laborers at work in the kitchen. Instead, she describes the kitchen, ripe with imagery. The savry Kitchen much Attention calls: Westphalia Hams adorn the sable Walls: The Fires blaze; the greasy Pavements fry; And steaming Odours from the Kettles fly. (ll. 56 59) Margaret Anne Doody presents the kitchen as another connecti on between Leapor and Swift, both fascinated with kitchens ( Swift 82). Doody comments on Miras tour of Crumble Hall, calling it an excursion which is a way of entertaining the visitor at this place where little happens ( Swift 82). Doodys words ma y be accurate if one expects to be entertained by human activity alone, perhaps activity consistent with Swifts object of fascination, the kitchens accidents, squalor, and creativity (Doody 82). However, as Leapor has shown us, there is plenty happeni ng if you look at the smallest of details.
38 Mira, then, leads us into the kitchen where our senses are immediately engaged by the product of the laborers business. We envision blackened walls (sable) where Hams are hung; we feel the warmth of The Fir es but only for a short moment before we are overwhelmed by the heat and griminess of the kitchen floor (the greasy Pavements fry) 8 ; and we experience a blow to both our sense of touch and smell with the steaming Odours from the Kettles. In this insta nce, one could argue that Leapor removes the servants from her poem, conforming to the traditions of the country house poem. However, I argue that Leapor shows the reader that behind the scenes of the clean and organized house (subject of the country house poem) lies chaos. When the homeowners and guests sit down to take part in the Westphalia Hams and the culinary delight brewing in the kettles, they do so in the dining room, enjoying the fully prepared meal. In the kitchen, Leapor shows us a work in proce ss, not a finished product. The servants may not be seen, but we know that they must be there to remove the hams from the wall, to check on the food cooking in the kettles, and once the meal is finished and served, clean up the greasy counters. The adjec tives and action verbs used in this brief view of the kitchen dont prepare us, however, for the dry, bland view of the parlor to follow a place, indeed, where little happens. With our senses fully engaged, we are jarred from activity with an exclamation See! (l. 60). See is all we are invited to do as Leapor uses basic, lifeless detail: See! yon brown Parlour on the Left appears, For nothing famous, but its leathern Chairs,
39 Whose shining Nails like polishd Armour glow, And the dull Clock beat s audible and slow. (ll. 60 63) Miras exclamation throws emphasis on what she is about to show us which, as it turns out, is nothing striking. Leapor describes the parlor with the bland color, brown, informing us that the room has no noteworthy purpose, for it appears,/ For nothing famous (ll. 60 61). In the room we See! chairs. We hear a clock. Leapor tells us that the chairs are leathern and have shining Nails. Leapor does not offer us much description or activity here except for the simile com paring the nails to polishd Armour glowing. I find it interesting that Leapor would choose to describe the nails in such detail rather than describing the chairs, themselves. This comparison to clothing worn in battle is mock heroic. The chairs are not being prepared for battle or even being cleaned after battle. They are outdated, and like the spider, the mice, and Mira are not worthy of display, not worthy of the praise that accompanies the traditional country house poem. As for the clock, we only hear it: a dull sound emitted, audible and slow. Leapor slows the mood of this room with the cacophonic d, k, and b sounds, dull Clock beats audible and slow. The disharmony of sounds slows down the movement in this line, effecting a slowing of the passage of time. These lines bring to mind Alexander Popes Epistle X To the Same: On Her Leaving the Town after the Coronation Greene states: Leapors regard for Pope surpassed by a very long way her feelings for any other writer and she repeated ly asserts her allegiance to Pope in her work ( Mary Leapor: A Study 182). Certainly Popes poem, like Leapors, suggests the mundane in the country house, although Pope focuses on country living and Leapor on the house and
40 labor. In the country, Popes Zephalinda (Popes poetic name for Teresa Blount) occupies her time with a slower lifestyle full of reading, praying, and taking walks, as well as finding little things to help pass the time: Count the slow clock, and dine exact at noon/ Divert her eyes w ith pictures in the fire,/ Hum half a tune, tell stories to the squire (ll. 18 20). Here time moves slow, leaving Zephalindas attention unfocused, drawn to whatever fleeting thought catches her interest at the moment: the fire, a partial tune, conversi ng with a local. In the uneventful room of Leapors poem, as with Zephalindas experiences, we see no sign of life, no vibrancy, no activity especially in comparison with the energy of the kitchen imagery. The reader is surprised within the parlor, not just due to the lifeless mood and inactivity, but also due to the expectations the reader holds in his/her knowledge of the traditions of country house poetry. Clive Edwards study on furnishings in this era explains the role furnishings plays in the homeo wners life. Edwards points out the fact that:  possessions of furnishings of any quality or meaningful value was not only a representation of wealth but also of position of rank (16). He goes on to say, The issue of the appropriateness of domesti c decoration and building was an important one, and it remained a theme in house furnishing well into the twentieth century. The individuals status was directly reflected in the home, and this reflection had to be seen to be suitable and in accord with th eir social position (21 22). According to Edwardss thoughts, within each of these rooms Mira should see a source of appropriateness and a sign of the homeowners position of rank and therefore of the utmost importance to the homeowners. Furthermore, in accordance with the traditions of the country house poem, Leapor should glorify the rooms and their furnishings, describe in great detail their
41 lavishness and grandeur, in order to praise the homeowners and show their social status and great taste. As discussed thus far, however, Leapors work is atypical of country house poems, and her version of this estate is not the same as that experienced by the homeowners. Indeed the rooms and furniture are not what Leapor chooses to let the reader to see. As sh e does with the spider and the mice, Leapor s view of the rooms within Crumble Hall are non traditional. She exposes the homeowners secrets, and shifts the point of view to that of the servant who keeps the furnishings tidy. Mira leads her guests to ano ther parlor, more fair than the last (l. 64). Yet Leapor destabilizes the promise of more fair, describing this room in the negative: The Form tis neither long, nor round, nor square (l. 65, emphasis mine). Leapor refuses to give this space physical dimension; instead she coyly notes: The Walls how lofty, and the Floor how wide,/ We leave that for learned Quadrus to decide (l. 66). In fact, Miras descriptions sound more like questions than definitive detail: how lofty? how wide? indeed. In w rapping up her anti description of the parlor, Leapor alludes to the traditional country house poem and her job as a poet singing of the glories of the country house, much might of the Tapestry be sung (70). However, the word might suggests this is not the case, and her following but transitions in the opposite direction, But were content to say, The Parlours hung (l. 71). Leapor again raises the conflict between poet and servant. Here, however, she sides with the servant, employing for the first time the pronoun we not in reference to Mira and her Muse (line 11), not in reference to Mira and her guests (lines 64 and 67) but Mira/Leapor grouped with her fellow servants. Leapor redirects the power of ownership in her poetic home space. Whereas in the
42 physical home space, the servants would clean as a job, Leapors version allows the servants the pride that can come with cleaning a space that one owns. Furthermore, Leapors use of we creates a sense of togetherness. Not only does she build them a poetic space but she writes them a community, a supportive atmosphere in their poetic home. They stand at the end of this stanza both united and content in their social home. At this point, Mira shifts the direction of her tour away from her fellow s ervants, onward and upward into the rooms above. We count the Stairs, and to the Right ascend (l. 72). This line corresponds with Leapors Corydon Phillario Or, Miras Picture. A Pastoral. Therein Phillario describes Mira: But who is she that walks from yonder Hill, With studious Brows, and Night cap Dishabille? That looks a Stranger to the Beams of Day; And counts her Steps, and mutters all the Way? (ll. 29 32). Ann Messenger asks an interesting question regarding these lines: composing poetry as she goes? (186). Whether Messenger is speaking of composing poetry in response to Miras muttering or her counting of steps, the question inspires me to examine the counting of stairs in Crumble Hall as well. Leapor plays with the idea of poet as b uilder, constructing her poem as a physical, three dimensional object as seen with the spider web and her poetic version of the country manor, itself. To count the Stairs suggests the counting of beats or feet within a line of poetry. Furthermore, consid er the basic meter of this poem in iambic pentameter (five iambs or ten syllables) juxtaposed with line 86, Up ten Stone Steps now please to drag your Toes . Leapor uses ten
43 for her count of steps for Mira and her guests to climb, thereby building t he poetic space of Crumble Hall. Each poetic syllable corresponds with (becomes) a stair in the construction of her home. While the homeowners of Crumble Hall move their servants out of vision, to the back Stairs, Leapor builds a poetic stairway, a bit of a physical home for each of her residents to traverse in their poetic space. Mira moves from describing furniture to accessories and other items. First we see Birons library: Here, Biron sleeps, with Books encircled round (l. 90). For an aspiring poet, such as Leapor, books would mean education, a chance to become better learned in the art of writing poetry. On the other hand, owning enough books to encircle, Biron intimates that he is a Student most profound (l. 91). Books for Biron mean mer e decoration, for Leapor exposes the truth here:  in Form the dusty Volumes stand;/ Theres few that wear the Mark of Birons Hand (ll. 92 93). Not only does Biron sleep rather than read, but the books suffer from neglect, dusty with little Mark of use. The dusty Volumes in Birons room correspond well with the room that Mira guides us into next. Mira exposes more useless items in these amiably furnished rooms (l. 98): Old Shoes, and Sheep ticks bred in Stacks of Wool;/ Grey Dobbins Gears, and Drenching Horns enow;/ Wheel spokes the Irons of a tatterd Plough (ll. 99 101). Old, Grey, and tatterd suggest that someone has long since discarded these items However, through these descriptions, the reader sense s the servants past, a col lection of memories for a personal home. These were once the servants tools and belongings: the Gears or accoutrements of a riding horse, or his rider (def. 3a) would have dressed the horse Grey Dobbins ; the Drenching Horns would have been used for giving a medicinal drench to animals (def. 1b); and the Plough, now in pieces
44 (Wheel spokes and Irons), would have been used to cultivate the soil for planting. Leapor devalues the homeowners possessions by treating them with the same attentio n she treats the servants old equipment. As Leapor moves her Mira and guests closer to the kitchen, she revises and rewrites the poetic tradition of representing the items within the house. The furnishings and accessories as well as unused servants tools solidify her poetic home. She fills in the rooms with lifeless, inanimate objects that should provide the home owners material comfort but which, instead, allow Leapor to garner together her own power in renovating and constructing a poetic home for the s ervants. Yes, a little higher, pray, says Mira in response to her guests complaint, No farther (l. 102), as she leads her group up to a view of the estate from the highest point in the house. Here a gay Prospect meets the ravishd Eye: / Meads, Field s, and Groves, in beauteous Order lie (l. 105 6). From this rooftop location, Mira shows her guest an unobstructed view of the estate below. Christmas sees this vantage point, however, as an analogy of power: Though not openly rebellious, Leapor was deep ly critical of the social limitations imposed on her from above (162). Mira usurps control from her employers, those above her. Her vantage point provides her with a seat of power as she stands above all else physically in the dwelling and metaphorica lly in her poem. However, some unknown force unexpectedly pulls the Muse and Mira down from their seat of power: From hence the Muse precipitant is hurld, And drags down Mira to the nether World (ll. 107 8). Susanne Kord argues:  her muse is hurled p recipitously from the highest spire of the palace and, as a punishment for getting above herself, is dragged down into the nether
45 world of the kitchen and the scullery (171). However, Valerie Rumbold speaks against the idea of punishment, arguing: Al though enclosure had come early to Northamptonshire, and although her father was a supplier of landscaping services to improving gentry, her preferred viewpoint is invariably the lower angle and more detailed focus of one actually accustomed to working wit h plants and soil (71) I concur that Miras vantage point above would do little to build up her version of home. Leapor needs Mira to return to the nether World (the kitchen) so that she can introduce us to her poetic family in their poetic home space. Its People F irst W e S ing: Reclaiming the Community in Crumble Hall. Form is not an imposed regularity, but a shaping of the pli a nt ingredients. This is the message that Leapors Cr umble Hall has for life and art -David Fairer Finally we come to the point in the poem where human activity replaces all other activity (animal or otherwise), the point where the Muse is hurld and drags Mira with her to the nether World, the kitchen. Echoing the activity of labor in the earlier description of t he kitchen, Leapor describes the seat of human activity in this 43 line section of the poem, nearly a quarter of the entire poem. Rumbold writes: Leapor's very obviously signalled pause for choice at this point, with the diversion from customary subjects which follows from it, thus asserts against the tradition the importance of work and workers, not simply as undistinguished menials or personified Labour, but as individuals (72). Indeed, in this section, Leapor depicts qualities of the utmost
46 importance in constructing a sense of home: familial togetherness, significant others and a community for these individuals, the servants. Anthropological scholars find that no one experiences home spaces equally. Patients in institutions, prisoners, and even lodgers, for instance, lack the pride of ownership. As a middle aged Colchester spinster noted bitterly, living in lodgings meant never being able to impress a personality on surroundings, intrusions of privacy, restrictions on hospitality and sudden not ices to quit (Davidoff and Hall 358). The same holds true for live in servants. Their dwellings are [..] not quiet refuges but busy workplaces, the locus of back breaking toil for many individuals working from the early hours of the morning to late at ni ght. The realisation of the domestic ideal relied on the labours of servants directed by a mistress whose own labour had to [be] made invisible (Bryden and Floyd 109). However, Rumbold concludes that in Leapors fictional poetic space:  in the end it i s 'the menial Train' who are presented as the 'People' of the house which had felt so empty as Mira led the tour. To name them as such is to acknowledge their importance in a very striking way, in the context of a tradition primarily concerned with the tas tes and values of landowners; and to characterize them as individuals is, in a sense, further to dignify them, although Leapor's treatment tends more to the satirical than to any ideali zation of the dignity of labour (Rumbold 72) Leapor shifts the balance of home experience from the master to the servant by making the servants labor visible and the homeowner invisible, thus deconstructing the domestic ideal and constructing a poetic home.
47  Its People first we sing: Hear, Artemisia hear the Song w e bring. Sophronia first in Verse shall learn to chime, And keep her Station, tho in Mira s Rhyme; Leapors choice to begin her introductions of the other residents of Crumble Hall with Sophronia immediately suggests Leapors difficulties in straddling her dual existence as servant and poet. Leapor narrates this conflict in a number of poems including An Epistle to Artemisia. On Fame. In this poem, Leapor describes a more forceful Sophronia than we witness in Crumble Hall. 9 In An Epistle, Leapor d escribes the incident leading up to Leapors removal from service at Edgcote, a dispute between Mira and Sophronia over Leapors free time spent writing instead of engaging in more appropriate activities. In this poem, Sophronia possesses strength in chara cter and voice, entering like a barbrous Turk (l. 153) and wielding her power over Mira in the servant class hierarchy: You thoughtless Baggage, when dye mind your Work? Still oer a Table leans your bending Neck: Your Head will grow prepostrous, l ike a Peck. Go, ply your Needle: You might earn your Bread; Or who must feed you when your Fathers dead? (ll. 154 58) In Crumble Hall, on the other hand, Leapor focuses solely on Sophronias role as labourer on a level equal with Mira rather than as M iras superior: Sophronia sage! whose learned Knuckles know To form round Cheese cakes of the pliant Dough;
48 To bruise the Curd, and thro her Fingers squeeze Ambrosial Butter with the temperd Cheese: Sweet Tarts and Pudden, too, her Skill declare; And the soft Jellies, hid from baneful Air. (ll. 111 20) Leapors use of sage, learned, and skill suggest mental intelligence, but these words describe Sophronias kitchen labor instead. In the eighteenth century, society praised specific types of education based on gender and class, and a kitchen servant would, of course, be valued when exhibiting learning consistent with her responsibilities in the kitchen. Employing personification and synecdoche, Leapor places Sophronia in her appropriate station focusin g on Sophronias knuckles and not her mind. Her knuckles are intelligent, for they are both learned and know and possess great skill for carrying out productive house work. The object of this learning is not information found in books like those in Birons room, but rather, the culinary arts: to form round Cheese cakesbruise the Curd, and  squeeze Ambrosial Butter. Form, bruise, and squeeze, express physical labor details of Sophronias job responsibilities and the tools of her trade, her hands, but no descriptive detail of Sophronia s character as Miras superior Greene argues: Leapors descriptions of cooking, although drawn from her own immediate experience, probably owe something to Kings [poem] ( Mary Leapor 177). Leapors lin es regarding Sophronia sage certainly resemble various passages in William Kings The Art of Cookery where King writes of knuckles that form and knead the dough into pies just as Sophronias knuckles form and squeeze the dough into cheesecakes (5 9). The connection between the two works is further
49 strengthened with an examination of Leapors lines about Sophronia sage and Kings words: Tis a sage question if the Art of Cooks/ Is lodgd by Nature or attaind by books (123). Leapor writes in Sop hronia her answer to this question for sage Sophronia cooks, her knuckles know and are learned, without even a little forien Assistance upon which Swifts spider relies. Sophronia has no need for a cookbook, for she possesses the natural talent and intelligence of a cook, and society has placed her, unlike Leapor in the role of kitchen maid rather than poet, in the appropriate position for her natural talents. 10 Although the kitchens basic use is for preparing meals, in smaller dwellings (before the advent of central heat and air), people were also drawn to the kitchen area for warmth and human interaction during meal preparations. Homeowners even placed beds in the kitchen or in close proximity to the kitchen to draw warmth from the kitchen fires Leapor s poetic kitchen has multiple uses as well. Leapor describes the blend of activity with peace, comfort, and overall liveliness in the kitchen. While Leapor places Sophronia in her station, laboring diligently on her cheese cakes, tarts, and j ellies, few of the other servants are actually working. Leapor draws up a variety of activity in the kitchen, creating a feeling of home as she blends the varied pliant ingredients to her home recipe. Leapor combines her ingredients the warm Kett les with the savry Steams offering Grave Colinettus space to relax his temperament enough to dream, albeit for a short moment, until he is awakened by a starting, anxious for his new mown Hay and runs headlong out to view the doubtful Day (ll. 12 1 24). Furthermore, Leapor personifies Dinner, creating an additional character that lures the residents, calling each with more prevailing Charms (125).
50 Leapors most striking introduction is that of the servant couple Roger and Ursula. Many scholars find this scene to be most relevant to the poems meaning and Leapors poetic purpose. Fairer describes the scene as a social comedy and an anti pastoral (233), and Laura Mandell views the couple as part of a parody of domestic ideology (Demystifyi ng 564; Misogyny 95 96). Dalporto argues that Leapor uses the Roger and Ursula exchange  to reveal how the socioeconomic relationship on the country estate keep the servants alienated from the land and their own labor (239). However, I argue agains t the portrayal of Roger and Ursula as a parody; instead Leapor creates this couple to people her home with a realistic interaction between a man and woman in a relationship. Roger is the epitome of comfort and security in a home space. He needs nothing, f or he has plenty of food, more than he needs: Oer stuffd with Beef; with Cabbage much too full,/ And Dumpling too  (ll. 130 31). In this gluttonous state, Roger sleeps on top of the table With Mouth wide open, but with closing Eyes and His able L ungs discharge a rattling Sound (ll. 132 and 134). He is the epitome of rest and relaxation. Inga Bryden and Janet Floyds examination of the relationship between husband/master and wife/servant explain Rogers relationship with Ursula in this scene: Th e servants may have been exhausted, the mistress may have had a tiresome and difficult day, but, as far as the master was concerned, he was the only member of the household who had been at work all day. For him, and him only, the house represented the end of work, an opportunity for relaxation and enjoyment (117). Roger may not be the owner of Crumble Hall, but Ursula places him in a seat of power by waiting on him in the manner of a servant to her master as well as wife for husband. As the rattling of
51 Rogers snoring suggests, he is carefree at this point; he reaps the comforts of the home space his mate (and Leapor) provides. As part of Dalportos argument, she claims: The relations of [Ursulas] production  are subsumed within domestic ideology (239). Mandell furthers this argument explaining: Ursula attempts to transform her labor into what female labor will become for growing numbers of middle class women: mere epiphenomena of wifely devotion (Demystifying 563 64; Misogyny 95 96). Ing rateful Roger wilt thou leave me now? For you these Furrows mark my fading Brow; For you my Pigs resign their Morning Due: My hungry Checkens lost their Meat for you: And, was it no, Ah! Was it not for thee, No goodly Pottage would be dressd by me For t hee these Hands wind up the whirling Jack, Or place the Spit across the sloping Rack. I baste the Mutton with a cheerful Heart, Because I know my Roger will have Part. (ll. 140 149) Ursula, however, is not subsumed within domestic ideology, as Dalporto a rgues, for Ursula does not make her work invisible as wives and servants did for their husbands/masters. Instead of silent wifely devotion, she voices her discontent, berates her Roger for his sloth and draws attention to her hard work. In addition, Ma ndell may be correct in pointing out the following:
52  b ecause Ursula and Roger work for the absent owners of Crumble Hall, because Ursula works in the kitchen with Sophronia to feed not only Roger but Grave Colinettus and surly Graffo Ursulas lamen t render[s] the contradictions of [bourgeois] romantic ideology, and its powerfully imaginary status as ideology, particularly obvious  : Ursulas repetition of For you and for thee is belied by her statement that she makes a dinner of which Roger w ill only have Part ; she labors for pay, not love (Demystifying 564; Misogyny 95 96). What Mandell elides, however, is the importance of the absent owners. Leapor builds her Crumble Hall not for the owners but as a home for the multifarious res idents, of which Roger and Ursula are a part. Within this poetic Crumble Hall, the reader glimpses an assortment of these largely ignored residents at home, engaging in their daily activities both labor and leisure. Leapors transformation from the ex traordinary of the homeowners home to the ordinary of the servants job/home underscores Leapors poetic talent of home building, and the building of an unconventional home a space where lowly creatures and lowly servants inherit and possess home space. C hristmas (175) and Cynthia Wall ( The Rhetoric of Description 274) use forms of the word ordinary to describe Leapors version of Crumble Hall, and Doody notes that Leapors description is relaxed [and] of a visit neither brilliant nor unpleasant, pai d to a place unglamorous  (83). Leapor depicts ordinary, everyday experiences in that they are  not above, or somewhat below, the usual level of quality (def. 5a). However, these experiences are certainly not ordinary for a country house poem. Leapors description does not belong  to the
53 regular or usual order or course of things ( def. 2a). Christmas argues that These details  are but the building blocks for the severe ideological critique the poem levels at its conclusion (177). Bui lding blocks is an appropriate term, for Leapor preserves the old customs. The reader sees the values of community and a supportive atmosphere through the various servants at work and play in the kitchen. Leapor allots them all a space within her own C rumble Hall, within her social home. Work, Rest, and Play Leapor wraps up her poem with a social critique of enclosure, the homeowners improvement of the estate resulting in a loss for the community the estate had once served. In the last lines of th e poem, Mira describes the grounds surrounding Crumble Hall in vivid and brilliant detail consistent with a country house poem. Christmas writes: From the beginning, the poet relates a nostalgic image of the house teeming with life sustaining food (112); t he house itself seems alive, given the personified carvings in the entryway (113); a spider weaves her Loom and mice run about the passageways (113, 114) . This is not a static poem, and the progression of details that convey a sense of life and a ctivity is central to Leapor s argument championing Nature. ( Christmas 177 78) Contrasting with the lack of activity and movement in the manmade parlor with its drab Leathern chairs and dull Clock, Leapor further conveys the sense of life and activity she began inside with spiders, mice, and servants, extending it to Crumble Halls grounds:
54 Where oer yon Waters nods a pendent Grove; In whose clear Waves the picturd Boughs are seen, With fairer Blossoms, and a brighter Green. Soft flowry Banks the spreading Lakes divide: Sharp pointed Flags adorn each tender Side. (ll. 156 162) Leapor creates movement in the outdoors as the trees in the Grove nod above the Lake, reflecting themselves in the clear Waves. She also plays with the idea of writer a s illusionist, describing the trees reflection as fairer and brighter than their physical counterpart. Leapor uses more vibrant adjectives than she had around the parlors to enhance her description of the surrounding lands as a safe haven or heaven ly refuge. The bank of the lake is Soft, flowry and tender with Flags growing along the side. Leapors Flags refers to the goddess Iris, as Flags, for we now call this flower Iris (def. 1a). The three petals of the Iris symbolize faith, valor, and wisdom and, thereby, suggest the strength and inspiration Leapor draws from nature below and the gods above. Leapors writing of the beauty of the grounds provides Mira with her own play space: Now to those Meads let frolick Fancy rove  (l. 156) During Leapors day, Fancy was synonymous with imagination (def. 4a). Within this home space Mira can feel free to let her imagination frolick. Leapors own Fancy builds a home space where Mira may play, a world outdoors conducive to Miras writ ing, a home space for Mira to feel safe enough to engage in the free play of writing. Leapor unites Miras play with every aspect of Crumble Hall in this section: See! the pleasd Swans along the Surface play: / Where yon cool Willows meet the
55 scorch ing Ray  (163 64). The swans do not work as do Sophronia and Ursula, nor do they sleep like Roger and Colinettus but they portray extreme comfort and security: as pleasd as they are, they engage in play. The swans play here can certainly be li kened to the poets play, for seventeenth and eighteenth century poets used the swan as a symbol for the poet; for instance, Dryden called Virgil the Mantuan swan and Pope called Swift a swan in a letter to Charles Jervas and in jest called John Taylo r the swan of Thames in two books of The Dunciad. 1 1 The symbolic meaning of the swan further unites this description of the grounds with the interior descriptions of Crumble Hall and to Mary Leapor, the poet, herself. Kings chapter on Apollo in An His torical Account of Heathen Gods and Heroes shows a connection between Apollo and the swan who is endued with Divination, when foreseeing his happiness in death, he dies with singing and pleasure (56) Indeed, Leapor like her contemporaries, is aware of Apollos role in the life of the poet, for she alludes to Apollo when writing about writing poetry in a number of her poems. In The Head ach. To Aurelia, Leapor notes how fickle Apollo can be, for he only courts the young (l. 49). She explains that she must write while she is able, before her trembling Hand [must] resign its Pen (l. 47): Then who woud not ( Aurelia, pray) Enjoy his Favours while they may? Nor Cramps nor Head achs shall prevail; Ill still write on, and you shall rail. (ll. 50 53) Not ice the double meaning in Aurelia pray: Leapor is not merely being polite in addressing Aurelia with pray meaning beseech (def. 1 ) or beg or entreat (def. 2 ), but asking a two fold question: who woud notpray to Apollo? And who woud
56 notEnjoy his Favours while they may? Apollos role in poetry during the seventeenth century and well until Leapors day held him responsible for a poets inspiration or lack thereof. In Eleonora, Dryden writes: We, who are priests of Apollo have not the inspir ation when we please; but must wait till the God comes rushing on us, and invades us with a fury, which we are not able to resist: which gives us double strength while the fit continues, and leaves us languishing and spent, at its departure (3). So, too, was Apollo popular in the poetic form the session poem where the author would place a row of contemporary poets before the throne of Apollo, all competing for the laurel wreath (Broich 89) 1 2 what Leapor calls his Favours. Apollo thus offering his F avours symbolizes a poets such as Leapors poetic inspiration, that which feeds her poetic ability. When Leapor writes at the beginning of Crumble Hall of Mira and her Muse singing of Crumble Hall , the metaphorical presence of Apollo would be their c onductor directing them in this song supporting her desire to write. Leapors allusions to Apollo and Iris in the heavens above support Leapors vision of beauty in her poetic home as she bemoans the renovations of the grounds to come. According to Kord, Destruction without is matched by decay within: just as opulence and wealth in the traditional country house poem express the lords generosity and hospitality, Leapors deconstruction of the genre indirectly shows up the greed and thoughtlessness of the (otherwise unsung) lord of the manor (170). Mark Girouard labels what Kord writes as greed and thoughtlessness (the act of enclosure) as a Paradise: In the course of the eighteenth century another image of Paradise, equally powerful in its own way, l argely replaced the old one. This was a paradise of Arcadian seclusion, of what appeared to be untouched nature, of
57 magical demesnes hidden from the outside world by walls or encircling belts of trees and enclosing great Palladian mansions at their heart ( A Country 152). Leapor, however, deconstructs that new image of Paradise by building a fairy tale atmosphere with an ominous feel, where dryads and nymphs scream and howl over their threatend Shades (ll. 165 6). Additional images of the Shades as a place for the hapless Swain to rest and the revrend Oaks to live a long life are soon to from their Roots be torn (ll. 170 3). Furthermore, banishd Nature leaves a barren Gloom,/ And aukward Art supplies the vacant Room (ll. 177 8). Sir Warys greed and thoughtlessness motivate him to renovate his property, thereby causing this destruction. Leapor uses gothic descriptions to haunt Sir Warys so called improvements toward Arcadian seclusion, granting the Nymphs the power to haunt the ravagd Plain, and filling in the new gloomy Green with Strange Sounds and Forms (ll. 180 1). Of Sir Warys Destruction and Mary Leapors Construction In the end, the real owners of Edgcote, after which Leapor modeled her Crumble Hall,  had pulled down both the medieval house and the adjoining village  (Rumbold 73); the effect of these renovations  was to cut houses off from the real country and the real world ( Girouard, A Country 152). Indeed, as Sir Wary renovates his house and land, he t hereby destroys not just a building and the surrounding grounds, but also the sense of family and community, a place many had called home. However, while Sir Wary is a destructive force, Leapor gives life. She salvages the home space, builds it up, and mai ntains a natural and lasting beauty in her poetic walls. The
58 original Edgcote is no longer, but the walls of Crumble Hall still stand. Leapor writes a poetic space and a safe haven for the spiders, mice, swans, and servants, as well as a space for the memories of her personal and physical home. Her poetic space is a dream world, a safe haven for the poetic mind to escape the toils of reality. A supportive atmosphere protected forever by the gods above and the lover of poetry and the scholar be low, Leapors Crumble Hall continues to be a personal, social, and physical home.
59 Notes 1. In this dissertation, I use the Oxford English Dictionary for definitions of words unless specifically cited otherwise. 2. Throughout this chapter, I re fer to Liz Kenyons values of home as she explores them in her article, A Home from Home: Students Transitional Experience of Home. Kenyon denotes four levels of home: Temporal, Personal (a sense of independence and freedom and memories) Soci al (made up of significant others, a supportive atmosphere, and a friendly neighbourhood ) Physical (a comfortable environment and a safe haven ) (87). 3. For an interesting look at the communities of women who embraced womens poetry, read Gillen DArcy Woods The Female Penseroso: Anna Seward, Sociable Poetry, and the Handelian Consensus and Betty Rizzos Two Versions of Community: Montagu and Scott. However, while the former article offers little tie between these communities and Leapo r (with the exception of David Garrick who wrote up the Proposals for Printing by Subscription The Poetical Works, Serious and Humorous, Of Mrs. Leapor, lately Deceased (Greene, Mary Leapor 23) and who also participated in these communities), it does off er insight into this group of women and men who regardless of angry responses from the literary world, chose to break free of the socially poisonous sarcasms of satire or critique in favor of sociability and community and a poetry
60 defined by publi c performance and consumption, and governed by a poetics of tribute, gratitude, humor, and entertainment (462 and 464). In the latter, Rizzo examines the list of subscribers to Leapors work, pointing out the following: Mrs. Cutts, Bab Montague [sic], Mrs. Montegue [sic], Miss Roberts , Miss Robinson , Mrs. Riggs, Mrs. Ravaud, Lady [Frances] Williams , and Mrs. Scott (207). Among these subscribers were a group of women living in Bath who had created a community of and for women, self supportin g and mutually supportive comparable to the sense of home Leapor builds for Mira and the servants in her poetry. 4. For studying the role of various servants in Leapors time period, one might find use in J. Jean Hechts The Domestic Servant Class in Eigh teenth Century England (London: Routledge, 1956). In this text, Hechts description of the gardeners job shows Mira taking on a second role when she steps outside to offer her tour of the grounds, for according to Hecht, the gardener was expected to give tours of the ground (49). 5. Christopher Christies text, The British Country House in the Eighteenth Century, offers further insight into the transformation of country houses into works of art in architecture and landscape. He does offer the following war ning against generalizing enclosure as solely a product of the eighteenth century: It is important to stress  that the process of enclosure had been going on since the Middle Ages, and that though the eighteenth century saw a rapid increase in the amou nt of land enclosed throughout the country, it was not uniform, either in acreage or its effect on the local population (171). 6. Many scholars utilize a theater metaphor when discussing the house. Donna Birdwell Pheasant and Denise Lawrence Zuniga identi fy The front stage [which] refers to spaces where the family presents or displays itself and entertains outsiders, while the
61 back stage indicates areas of presumably greater individual control where household members prepare, rest and seek solitude ( 4). Tony Chapman says that men have often [...] been regarded as off stage actors ( Gender 2 3) and  homes can be conceptualised as stage sets, upon which men and women attempt to communicate positive messages to the outside world in order to show that they are successful, respectable, fashionable and socially desirable ( Gender 13); Birdwell Pheasant and Lawrence Zuniga say: Those who believe they are in a drama will learn their roles, and if the set is in the script, then it too will be e xpected to play its part (235); and Edwards draws on Penelope Eames as she notes that great medieval households had to be organized to allow furnishings to be moved daily, as within a stage set which used portable props as required to suit the action (16); and Fletcher describes the polished performance that takes place in the dining room above the stairs in the home of John and Theresa Parker thanks to the most elaborate work  going on among the menials below (50). 7. Malcolm J. Bosse s use of the word mistake suggests the negative light with which Swift depicts his spider. While Finch shines a negative light on her spider, she does so in response to her own conflict over her responsibilities as a wife/homemaker and writer. Swift, however, chooses the spider as representative of the modern writer he derides as opposed to the writer he prefers, the writer who respects tradition, the preferred ancient writer (Boss 8). Swift, although using the spider to symbolize the poet, sides himself with his second symbol of a poet of a different kind, the bee. Harold D. Kelling expounds upon Swifts clear preference, writing: That the Bible and the words of the Ancients together constitute and ideal works in the written language which combine form and
62 content, is implicit through the Tale volume but it is expressed most clearly in the Battle, in the description of the Ancients, a description which fits the Bible as well as Homer (xxi). And while Leapors spider can be seen as engaging in a creative process in it s construction of a physical home her web (likened to the creative process of writing poetry), Swifts spider relies upon its natural poison enhanced only by feeding on insects, representative of worthless or destructive writing (Kelling xxvi). 8. One can view kitchen pavements in Fletchers The Parkers at Saltram 1769 89: Everyday Life in an Eighteenth century House. The caption beneath the image (found between pages 48 and 49 ) reads : The spits turning in Saltram kitchen, the fat dripping into the pa n beneath. This picture shows the grease on the concrete tiles in front of the spit not just within the pan beneath 9. The dialogue between Sophronia and Mira exemplifies the extreme conflict Leapor faced over her station versus her spiritual necess ity to write. In other of her poems, Leapor further describes similar reactions by various members of society over what was perceived as Leapors improper self elevation above her status by choosing to write. In Corydon. Phillario. Or, Miras Picture. A Pastoral, when hearing that Mira sits whole Evnings, reading wicked Plays (50), Phillario replies with the voice of society, admonishing such an activity, She read! Shed better milk her brindled Cows (l. 51). In The Epistle of Deborah Dough, Leapo rs narrator, Deborah Dough, denounces her neighbor Mary who, they say,/ Sits scribble scribble all the Day (ll. 11 12). Deborah speaks as Phillario and Sophronia do, reducing Marys act of writing to a mere scribble scribble. Deborah perceives writing to a woman such as herself, as a waste of time, and she can not even consider Marys poetic work on the same plane as the
63 domestic arts. She finds writing non eventful and unmemorable, saying:  making what I cant remember (13), and yet she knows we ll what she needs to know, that which is useful, that The Price of Oats is greatly fell and shes lost [her] brindled Cow (ll. 3 and 8). Deborah then describes her own daughter, Cicely, who possesses those traits she thinks would better serve one such as Mary: And better learnt (as People say): Can knit a Stocken in a Day: Can make a Pudden, plump and rare; And boil her Bacon, to an Hair: Will coddle Apples nice and green, And fry her Pancakes like a Queen. (ll. 23 28) Leapor enforces that which societ y deems important, describing, as with Sophronias learned Knuckles, Cicelys learning as appropriately that of sewing and cooking, placing her well within the boundaries of servitude. Mary, on the other hand, is criticized by Deborah who perceives that Mary lifts her Nose above the Croud (l. 20), above society and her place at the bottom rungs of the societal ladder, breaking the prescribed boundaries of domestic servitude. 10. Robert Applebaums Aguecheek's Beef, Belch's Hiccup, and Other Gastronomic Interjections offers an exploration of the growth of cookbooks as literature, dating back to 1300, a time when the illiteracy of kitchen workers and the high price of printing meant cookbooks were for literate men of means such as master chefs and stewards (73). In addition, the lack of specific quantities of ingredients and cooking times or an explanation of techniques in these fourteenth century books meant that cookbooks were
64 not meant to provide instruction but were meant for those who already possess ed a level of expertise in the kitchen. As for the food itself, meals were not just to appease hunger but were a sense of pride for the homeowner and cook who may well invest a good deal of ego in the food they are involved with (73). Indeed, food prepar ation was seen as an art rather than mere labor. The late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw a change to cookbooks, the instructional cookbook becoming increasingly popular during Leapors lifetime and even after her death in November 1746 (in the very next year, Hannah Glasses The Art of Cookery became a favorite in both England and the Colonies). Kings question regarding the need of a cookbook by those who possess the natural ability to cook applies to these increasingly popular types of books r ather than those of the earlier centuries. Of interest here is Applebaums conclusions that cookbooks are an art that is at once exactly reproducible and subject to innovation (76). This manner of using the cookbook corresponds with the way poets such as Leapor use their predecessor they possess a level of expertise but use the form and techniques prescribed by their predecessors, embellishing it with their own style and innovation. 11. Specific instances of swans symbolic of the writer are found in the following works by Dryden and Pope: In To Mr. Dryden on His Play Calld Truth Found Too Late Dryden writes of Virgil: Had Ilium stood, Homer had nere been read Nor the sweet Mantuan swan his wings displayd ( Eleonora ll. 46 47) and in To Mr. Dryd en upon His Translation of the Third Book of Virgils Georgicks: A Pindarick Ode :
65 While mounting with expanded wings The Mantuan swan unbounded Heavn explores, While with seraphic sounds he Towring Sings, Til divinity he soars:/ Mankind stands wondring at his flight, Charmd with his music, and his height: which both transcend our praise ( Poems ll. 1 7) In a letter To Mr. Jervas, in Ireland, dated July 9, 1716, Pope writes of Swift: It would be well in exchange, if Parnelle, and two or three more of your swans, would come hither, especially that swan, who like a true modern one, does not sing at all, Dr. Swift ( Poems 227). And in The Dunciad, Books II and III respectively, he writes mockingly of John Taylor: Taylor, sweet swan of Thames, majestic b ows ( The Dunciad with Notes Variorum l. 323) and Taylor, their better Charon, lends an oar, (Once swan of Thames, tho now he sings no more.) ( The Dunciad as It is Now Changed ll. 19 20) 12. The session poem, originated by John Suckling with his seve nteenth century poem, A Session of the Poets, criticized other poets of the time. This poetic form saw popularity in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with poetry such as The Session of the Poets by an anonymous author in 1668 and A Session of the Poets by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester in 1676. The session poem transitioned from its original intent as literary criticism to mock heroic with the dullness satire with poems such as
66 Popes The Dunciad and Drydens MacFlecknoe wherein the fool ish were praised and the wise condemned (Broich 89).
67 Chapter Two Six Foot Seven and a Half by 25 and a Quarter Inches of Physical Space, an Infinity of Personal Space: Constructing Home in Samuel Richardsons Clarissa Gaston Bachelard writes that to r ealize a home in a permanent state would lead to thoughts serious, sad thoughts and not to dreams. It is better to live in a state of impermanence than in one of finality (61). I find truth in the impermanence of home. The chaos of life, continuous traum atic events, and the daily grind that comes with work, study, family, social lives and social expectations drench the dreamer of home with the hose of reality. No one can feel the comfort and safety of home all of the time except in one instance, death. Samuel Richardsons title hero in his epistolary novel Clarissa is of the age when most blossoming adults look back upon their carefree days of childhood as the basis for constructing their adult home. Yet, at the end of the novel, Clarissa constructs a mo st unconventional home space as her chosen space a coffin. One may question the limitation of this choice knowing the physical comfort in which she had grown: an expansive familial home where her parents, brother, and sister were still living, servants to tend to the Harlowes every need and the adoration of her neighbors. Clarissas childhood was a most ideal environment. Tragically, as with so many young women in the eighteenth century up to our present day, the ideal home did not remain so. In explaining why Clarissas choices were so limited so as to ultimately choose a coffin as
68 her home space, I will trace the Clarissas home space from spacious breathing room to ever constricting, claustrophobic space. Drawing on Liz Kenyons categories of home and th e values found therein, I begin by examining the drastic change of her peaceful childhood space from the openness of a personal, social, and physical home 1 to the confines of a prison at the hands of friends 2 This change leads to an escape to the ever more unhealthy conditions of Lovelaces manipulative space in the brothel, finally ending with Clarissas unconventional housing, her extraordinary physical home, her coffin. Of Parlors and Closets: Clarissas Familial Home Space The extreme cha nge of the Harlowe home from open space to claustrophobic space necessitates Clarissas future construction of her unconventional home. However, the reader is never offered a full picture of Clarissas idyllic childhood home. Instead, the epistolary novel begins in the center of conflict. As the novel opens, we witness Clarissa in a state of confusion over her familys ill treatment of her, suggesting that this treatment is not the norm. I conclude, therefore, that prior to this occasion, Clarissa possesse d all three of Kenyons categories of home: the supportive atmosphere of a social home; independence and memories of a personal home; and a comfortable environment and safe haven of a physical home (87). I argue that Clarissas possession o f these three categories allowed her to experience what Bachelard calls felicitous space: the sorts of space that may be grasped, [and] defended, the space we love eulogized space (xxxv). Unfortunately for Clarissas personal development, the Har lowes revoke their daughters felicitous space as the novel unfolds.
69 Kenyon notes the importance of a supportive atmosphere in feeling a sense of home. In addition, Graham Allan and Graham Crow offer two views of the interconnectedness of home with fa mily. One view argues that the home is family, and the other argues that home is home while the family are [sic] in it. When the family are out of it it is only a house (2). Each of these views supports the importance of family toward a sense of home. Clarissas home is no different, for within Clarissas childhood home, she felt all the requirements of home. Within her social home, Clarissa felt the warmth of her extended family and her familial history. She was the favorite of her mother and father, aunts, uncles, cousins and especially her grandfather. While the reader is never privy to such preferential treatment firsthand, Richardson clearly implies that the Harlowes have a close knit unit with their Clary by emphasizing Clarissas disordered state throughout the novels opening. Upon Clarissas return from visiting with Anna Howe, Clarissa enters the Harlowe home as normal expecting warmth in her familys greetings and expostulations by a family who had missed their dear one. Clarissa instead encounters a group of individuals she hardly recognizes, an aberration of what she knew as the Harlowe family: I was struck all of a heap as soon as I entered, to see a solemnity which I had been so little used to on the like occasion in the countenance of every dear relation. They all kept their seats. I ran to my Father, and kneeled: then to my Mother: and met from both a cold salute: from my Father a blessing but half pronounced: my Mother indeed called me Child; but embraced me not with her usual indulg ent ardour. (1:38 39)
70 Katharine Kittredge blames Clarissas gender for her familys treatment of her: Unfortunately for Clarissa, she was born in a female body, and thus must adhere to the rules for heroines within her society; she is chastely innocent of sexual matters, obedient to the men who dominate her, and strives to control her emotions. Her adherence to the rules of feminine behavior not only identify her as truly feminine, but also guarantee her position within society (23). Margaret Anne Doody, too, explains this sudden shift in treatment: Richardson exhibits the flaws of the rising middle class in the Harlowes greedy and limited behavior. The Harlowes exhibit every negative attribute of Whiggism contempt and envy of those above them, contempt and suspicion of the poor, a desire to hoard wealth and to use all human relationships as means to a material end (Samuel Richardson 106). The material end places Clarissa as a voucher in the marriage exchange, as Ruth Perry labels it. The underlyin g motive behind the Harlowes actions is what Solmes has offered to give the Harlowe family in the marriage settlements if there are no children: his considerable property, contiguous to the Harlowe estate (Perry 157). The transformation of Clarissas ho me space is a matter of gender, politics and greed combined. Clarissa is no longer darling little Clary, loved unconditionally by her parents. Instead, she has become a young woman of marrying age and therefore marketable, a treasure, an object to be bar tered by her greedy parents, a means to material end. Making up Clarissas personal home is Clarissas family, with her father, especially, proving to be an interesting character for scholarly analysis. One would expect Richardson to devote much atte ntion to developing the traditional head of the family, Mr. Harlowe. Instead, Mr. Harlowe lacks a physical presence, his appearances brief and
71 colorless (Eaves and Kimpel (251). The exertion of his voice becomes Mr. Harlowes dominating trait, represen ting paternal authority: his big voice, his strong voice, his hard voice the Voice of Authority which insists on being obeyed (Stuber 560). Arabella tells of her fathers voice as she writes to her sister: My Father, in the first agitations of his mind, on discovering your wicked, your shameful Elopement, imprecated, on his knees, a fearful Curse upon you  that you may meet your punishment, both here and hereafter, by means of the very wretch, in whom you have chosen to place your wicked confid ence (3:258). Florian Stuber argues: Mr. Harlowes anger is in itself merely an affect generated by Clarissas challenge to a principle he holds most dear, the principle of parental, or more particularly, paternal authority (559). Howard D. Weinbrot co unters Stubers argument of excessive paternal authority as the focus of our attention, instead, deeming that Mr. Harlowes presence is a deficiency of parental authority. [P]atriarchy, he writes:  is neither efficient nor powerful enough James, Jr. replaces and symbolically slays his father as well as his uncles. Had there been proper patriarchy, James and his culpable sister would have been spanked and sent to bed without dinner. Instead, family name becomes the guiding force; James becomes the be arer of the Harlowe standard and ensures that the family destroys itself while seeking to create itself. (289) I argue, however, that while Jamess actions and dialogue overpower that of his father as Clarissa relates them in her letters, it is Mr. Harlowe s will for money and social elevation that motivates Jamess actions. He does not symbolically slay his father but rather takes up his fathers voice in kind, motivated by the same greed as well as an
72 additional trait of jealousy over his sisters prope rty ownership. Mr. Harlowe is not without voice as Stuber would argue but rather has others who speak on his behalf, strengthening his will by proxy. I further argue that Mr. Harlowes will is based on his own vision of home especially as it conflicts wit h his daughters. Mr. Harlowe wishes to build a monument, a testament to his wealth and social status as opposed to Clarissas idea of home as a place of emotional security, support, and freedom. While Mr. Harlowes home construction consists of a s ocial home complete with a living group of significant others, a supportive atmosphere where social and emotional needs [are] met, meeting his socialneeds takes precedence over his familys emotional needs. Furthermore, Mr. Harlowe possesses a sen se of independence and freedom within his social home. His is a financial independence, however, and that demands complete obedience, denying Clarissa any independence and freedom of her own. Finally, his idea of safety in his physical home is to be financially elevated and the peace of mind of having things done his way, for his pleasures alone. Through Mr. Harlowes abuse of parental authority, exertion of will, and distorted version of home, Richardson emphasizes the flaws within the classes in their attempts to better themselves often at the loss of family. Clarissas treatment by her family within her home space was not uncommon in the 18 th century. During this time, certain domestic spaces were used as a tool for training the working class a nd children to be proper citizens. Lawrence J. Taylor elaborates on this function: Beyond the domestic, architecture in general was given a conscious role in both improving and controlling once again, a gendered opposition. In
73 private spaces, the role o f such new rooms as the parlor (like the woman who presided over it) was to influence through the expression of an attractive world of values and decorum into which the initiate would be drawn and transformed. (227) We witness the parlor as training ground as the Harlowes attempt to manipulate Clarissa into her role as dutiful and submissive daughter. Furthermore, they fight to make her submissive and agreeable to their choice of husband for her. Yet their choice of Mr. Solmes as husband for Clarissa has no thing to do with Christian values or proper social behavior or even love. The Harlowes value Solmes for his money alone: [ R ] ich Solmes you know they call him (1:33). One quality, the wealth he will bring to the family, they admire in him. Clarissas fami ly, wholly opposed to a match between their daughter and the rake Lovelace, decides on the aforementioned parlor as the locale to approach their daughter, exerting their power over her like they had never done before. Here, Clarissa feels the change, the r eduction in the spiritual size of her home space. The Harlowes no longer treat Clarissa as a person but as a marketable object with which they can make money and raise their status in society. Weinbrot goes so far as to equate the Harlowes home to that of the house to which Lovelace carries Clarissa: She has been prostituted by her family, whose home is all too like the bordello to which Lovelace escorts her (277). The parlor seems to shrink around her as her family asserts their ever widening control No Lovelace, Yes Solmes, No choice! No longer is the parlor, or the wider space of the home, a vast space of familial affection and devotion but a constricted space of parental authority and complete submission.
74 Clarissa knows what she wants from her home and continually fights to uphold the metaphorical boundaries of her personal space. She begs her parents not to force her into a marriage with a man she deems wrong for her. She writes: I then offered to live single; never to marry at all  (1:107). Or est Ranum argues: European societies of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries differed markedly from one another, yet when compared to contemporary society they seem alike in at least one respect: individual development was hindered by fami ly, communal, civic, and village ties (207). The Harlowes hinder their daughters development in forcing her to marry one beneath their daughter both in mind and spirit. The Harlowes expect Clarissas full acquiescence, what Dianne Osland terms complai sance, to their wishes, and they suspect that if their daughter does not want to marry Solmes, then she must have some ulterior motive for refusing (the Harlowes presume Clarissa desires Lovelace). According to Osland: Using complaisance to gain influenc e, however, is never really an option in the sense of being a tactic Clarissa can consciously employ, since her complaisance should never have her own interests at heart. She can have influence, but she cannot legitimately use it (500). Regardless of all the reductions with which Clarissas family attempts to hinder her development into anything except a dutiful daughter and obedient wife, Clarissa continually proves herself to be strong in her desire to define and develop her own sense of self, to const ruct the space around her so that she can feel at home. Clarissa refuses to be complaisant to societys expectations of her within the educating space of the parlor as she refuses to be complaisant to her familys commands for her to marry Mr. Solmes.
75 At first, Clarissa thinks little of her ability to think and act for herself. She is so bewildered by her familys sudden change in their treatment of her that she writes: They have begun so cruelly with me, that I have not spirit enough to assert my ow n Negative (1:44). Yet, Clarissa finds inner strength and manages to fight back, assert [her] own Negative. One morning at breakfast, Mr. Solmes attempts to seat himself next to Clarissa. Clarissa retaliates by removing the seat next to hers to a distan ce, an effort to prevent him from sitting within her personal space. This, however, does not stop the stubborn Mr. Solmes, for he then places the chair next to hers. Clarissa rises and takes another seat. Later, she writes of her own actions: I own I had too little command of myself  I did it involuntarily, I think. I could not help it. I knew not what I did (1:93). Mary Poovey explains Clarissas actions as a necessary response to: Solmess stupidity, her mothers anger, [and] Arabellas dismay, [whi ch] bear in upon Clarissa and force the frantic pleas that contradict duty. The walk, the glances, the gestures, render the scene vivid and manifest the necessity of Clarissas disobedience. Immersed firmly in the sordid details of economic motivation and physical repulsiveness, Clarissa must revolt and so spring the trap around her. (302) Pooveys explanation while offering the causes of Clarissas response, elides the biological mechanisms at work that drive Clarissa to act with little thought. In Clariss a, Richardson captures a typical human stress response to perceived threat, fight or flight. Her body knows what her conscious mind may not or has not enough time to think rationally about, that she must act, and act fast, in order to survive. Mr. Solmes i s the danger against whom she must protect herself. During breakfast, Clarissa has the comfort
76 (however small) of having her family within close proximity. Their presence offers some semblance of safety, gives her an increased strength, and therefore, the ability to fight Solmes in her way by not allowing him access to her self, her space and, most importantly, to her body. Therefore, upon breakfasts end, when her family makes their excuses one by one (a ruse to leave Clarissa alone with Mr. Solmes), her f ight or flight responses kick in. Her security system the Harlowes having abandoned her, Clarissa feels the necessity of fleeing Solmess presence. Therefore, making her own excuses, she readily leaves Solmes as he continues his attempts to gain her attent ion (1:94). Doody argues that one of the novels messages is: The cultural enslavement of women poisons familial and social life (Samuel Richardson 110). Preventing Clarissa from owning her own space comes to poison not just Clarissa but her famil y as well. Recall the argument from Allan and Crow regarding the home: When the family are out of it it is only a house (2). Such a statement need not refer only to the occupation of the family in a physical sense, but in a spiritual sense. The Harlowes control expands making itself felt as an ever increasing burden on Clarissas spiritual home space. Doody describes the Harlowes control in terms of constricting space, an inability to breathe and an inability for things to grow as physical doors, walls, and partitions are placed up around Clarissa representing the mental barriers that separate her from her family emotionally ( A Natural Passion 203). The spirit of family is not a permanent fixture within Clarissas personal space and time, for beginning M arch 4 th less than two weeks since Clarissas unwelcome return from visiting Anna, Clarissa loses her family one by one. First her father as her mother refers to him in a formal sense: Mr. Harlowe talks of dining out today[.]. Clarissa is flustered by her mothers obvious use of semantics in
77 separating her daughter from the man formerly known as father. She thinks to herself: Mr. Harlowe! Not my Father! Have I not then a Father! (1:121). Later, her mother, too, pulls herself from the intimate role of mother exclaiming: I will no more seek you, nor to you (1:140). Clarissas mother fails to offer her daughter a supportive atmosphere typical of the mother figure. As Katharine M. Rogers writes: The total submissiveness of Clarissas mother, especial ly in view of her superior sensitivity and judgment, is presented as a sign of weakness rather than virtue, and is shown to be self defeating: instead of influencing through meek expostulations (as wives were exhorted to do), she fails to influence at all ; and she does not even buy domestic peace. Her compliance is also immoral, for in obeying her husband she fails in her duty to her daughter. (258) Furthermore, Clarissa is refused correspondence with her family. Her mother writes: Write not another Lette r to me. I can do nothing for you (1:162); her father: Write no more to me, till you can distinguish better (1:164); and Uncle Antony: You had better not write to us, or to any of us (1:216). Those who wish to communicate with Clarissa, on the other h and, are refused by the Harlowes as with her cousin Dolly Hervey: The dear girl longs to see me, she tells me: But is forbidden till she see me as Mrs. Solmes (1:288). Clarissa feels her home space reduced and her family removed. Is it not a sad thing, writes Clarissa, beloved as I thought myself so lately by every one, that now I have not one person in the world to plead for me, to stand by me, or who would afford me refuge, were I to be under the necessity of seeking for it? (2:37 38). Doody writes: In creating the effect of walls closing in more and more oppressively around the victim,
78 [Richardson] forces the reader to participate in the sense of nightmarish claustrophobia which his heroine endures ( A Natural Passion 214). Indeed, the space that had once been so blissful and supportive, becomes claustrophobic, anti home space. Clarissa writes to Anna of the sudden change to her familial circumstances: We have been till within these few weeks, every one of us, too happy. No crosses, no vexations but what we gave ourselves from the pamperdness, as I may call it, of our own wills. Surrounded by our heaps and stores, hoarded up as fast as acquired, we have seemed to think ourselves out of the reach of the bolts of adverse fate. I was the pride of all my friends, proud myself of their pride, and glorying in my standing. (2:245) If, indeed, family is home, then the detachment of Clarissa from both her family and the pride of a supportive atmosphere that should come with being a part of that famil y deprive her of any sense of a social home. The Harlowes further deny Clarissa a safe haven within her physical home when they begin to physically abuse her. Clarissa undergoes this trauma at the hands of her siblings, leaving her to experience a loss of safety in the one space where she should feel secure. Bella snaps Clarissa on the neck. Clarissa accuses her sister of abuse to which Bella responds: Do you call this beating you? Only tapping your shoulder thus . Bella then taps her sister onc e again, this time, as Clarissa notes, tapping again more gently (2:45). Jamess violence is more severe as he seeks to control her entire body by grasping her hand on two occasions. First: I would have broken from him; but he held my hand too fast. [ ] He tossed my hand from him, with a whirl, that pained my very shoulder. I wept, and held my hand to the part (2:194 95). And second, that same
79 evening: What mean you, Sir (struggling vehemently to get away) to detain me thus against my will? James res ponds, You shall not go, Violence, and proceeds to control her further, clasping his unbrotherly arms about his sister (2:228). Where in this house can Clarissa go to feel even a small semblance of bodily safety in her physical home? Finally, experi encing the value of privacy within the familial home is often a tricky thing. Parents desire for their children to be safe and act appropriately often leads parents to invade their childrens privacy, reading diaries and checking through drawers. This beh avior is often perceived by the parents as a sign of love. I find difficulty in attributing the lengths to which Clarissas family goes in controlling their daughter as a sign of love, but rather, I see a family over exerting their authority. While her sib lings treat her body with contempt, her parents deprive her of a physical, private environment. Clarissas parents had once cared about her need for her own space within their house. She was given her own library, parlor, chamber, and closet. Within Claris sas closet, she was free to engage in her correspondences with Anna and conduct her charitable business. The word free, seems relative here, for Clarissa, as a dependent of her parents, would be under their control, allowed to write, not so much free to d o so. Indeed, we see them exert this power as they revoke Clarissas sense of privacy, commanding the terms by which Clarissa may use her so called private space: February 25 th :  I must not for a month to come, or till licence obtained, correspond wit h any body out of the house (1:46). March 4 th : This moment the keys of every thing are taken from me (1:147). March 31 st : Betty, a spy so diligent, snoops through Clarissas private closet: Betty had for some time been very curious about my wardro be, whenever I took
80 out any of my things before her. Observing this, I once, on taking one of my garden airings, left my keys in the locks; and on my return surprised the creature with her hand upon the keys, as if shutting the door. She was confounded at my sudden coming back. I took no notice: But, on her retiring, I found my clothes were not in the usual order. I doubted not, upon this, that her curiosity was owing to the orders she had received (2:148). March 31 st : In came Miss Dolly Hervey: I am sorr y, Madam, to be the messenger But your Mamma insists upon your sending up all the keys of your cabinet, library, and drawers (2:207). April 5 th : I must write as I have opportunity; making use of my concealed stores: For my pens and ink (all of each that they could find) are taken from me (2:212). Clarissas private space is stripped to the bare essentials. However, it is important to remember that, for women, the word private often did not mean what we thi nk of today. Take for instance an example from 17 th Century diarist Samuel Pepys and his wife: Pepys and his wife, imitating a fashion borrowed from wealthy Italians, each had a bedroom and closet ( Ranum 228). This sounds at first as if Mrs. Pepys maintains a sense of privacy, sole ownership of her v ery own bedroom, her very own closet. However, Ranum follows this with a statement that suggests Mrs. Pepys private space is constricted: Once, in return for a favor, Pepys received a cabinet as a gift. After carefully examining the operation of its secr et drawers, he had it installed in his wifes closet. As Ranum points out: This story gives us pause. Did possession of furniture that could be locked really mean that privacy had increased? Pepyss wife could keep no secrets from prying Samuels eyes ( 228). As with Pepys to his wife, Clarissas parents
81 maintain their right to control their daughters spaces; they own the house; they own the daughter; they own the daughters private space. Finding it increasingly more difficult to feel at home, Clariss a seeks a way to feel some semblance of home. As I discussed in chapter one, one can build a metaphorical home through writing. Mary Leapor constructed a home for herself and other servants like her through writing her poem, Crumble Hall, and in Richards ons novel, Clarissa builds a temporary home through writing. Although her parents restrict her writing, Clarissa proceeds to carry on her correspondences secretly, to write her story, to record her life experiences, to interact with others, and to build h er identity. Consistent with epistolary writing as opposed to third person narration, Clarissa offers her thoughts and feelings rather than physical description of her surroundings. As Cynthia Wall notes: The luxuriant details offered by the novel are not those of physical description of parlor, house, grove, garden, brothel, or city but mind, and heart, speculation and interpretation, moral principles and plotting stratagem. As with most late seventeenth and early eighteenth century narratives, space see ms oddly, conspicuously implied; we have virtually no sense of color, line, shape, dimension, or decoration, but rather, an awareness of direction, relation, change, stasis the boundaries of space, so to speak, without its details; the implication of image without image. (The Spaces of Clarissa 106) Christina Marsden Gillis explains this lack of description in her discussion of private space and letter writing: Richardson looks not outside the walls of the entire structure, but rather inside, into the co nsciousness. The enclosed room suggests that the privacy
82 necessary to the letter writing process, as Clarissa experiences it, belongs to the unseen, internal space where the self may get on with its own business of introspection and composition of the lett er (20). James How calls this metaphorical space in which Clarissa corresponds, epistolary space (2). Offering cyberspace as a contemporary analogy to the space created by the development of the postal service in Richardsons time, How explains: Within these spaces people of the period were able at least for a part of the time to live and to think, and hence to act (1). Focusing on Clarissa within epistolary space, we find she is able to write a space for herself. Clarissa builds a safer space, exper iences greater independence, expresses her self identity in a metaphorical home, and is able to experience a sense of ownership in, as Gillis describes, the only place that is truly hers: the private space of the letter (30), and as I argue, by means of the expansive space of her imagination. Letter writing with Anna enables Clarissa to build a home. Robert A. Erickson describes Clarissas friendship with Anna as being the most heart felt in the novel:  it is Anna Howe and Clarissa who have the pure st heart relationship as defined in terms of consciousness, the capacity for mutually shared feeling, for entering deeply into the distresses of the other (199). Although this friendship is never visited in physical time only in epistolary space and t ime, it exhibits an extraordinary strength which Martha J. Koehler argues does not suffer from, but rather [is] enriched by, the distance that necessitates correspondence: Clarissa and Anna assume that the language of familiar letters is an instrument of the dictating heart. Koehler adds:  although the writer and addressee are, in a sense, psychological reflections of one another and figure as voice embodying the same soul,
83 each womans individuality is also recognized in the context of their relation ship. Important temperamental differences between the two are preserved, which Anna and Clarissa usually depict as adding interest and variety to their correspondence. (78) When physical presence is not possible for the two women, letters manage to decreas e the space that separates their physical selves, keeping their bond strong and bringing their mental space into close proximity. Furthermore, Clarissa is able to perfect her imaginative home space, for letter writing permits re writing: in the privacy o f the boudoir you can control and recuperate meaning, as you cannot so easily in the irregular give and take of personal conversation, as Terry Eagleton argues (44). Koehler echoes Eagleton, arguing that letter writing  assures a more meaningful, pure r connection between the impulses of the soul and language, between sender and receiver. The very time that elapses in the deliberation and preparation [creates] a purified medium for perfecting [Anna and Clarissas] relationship. That perfection can be ex pressed only in paradoxes, as a relation wholly pure yet entirely ardent (85). Friendship is essential to developing ones identity and giving one the strength to create a sense of home for herself. Clarissas friendship is reminiscent of the support Mary Leapor experienced through her friendship with Bridget Freemantle the support that gave Leapor the strength and confidence to write, thereby developing a sense of home. Through friendship, Clarissa, too, is able to experience Kenyons supportive atm osphere in the pure space of letter writing by staying in contact with those of her
84 friends most notably Anna Howe who have not abandoned her at the instruction of the Harlowe authority. Further addressing the importance of metaphorical space, How argu es:  such imaginations often engender action and hence real change (17). Clarissa does act through her letters. She stays in contact with the forbidden Lovelace, carries out her plan of escape from the Harlowe home and the dreaded Solmes, and much lat er carries out her plans of escape from the brothel and the dreaded Lovelace. But when her parents invade the privacy of her closet, Clarissa seeks out another part of the Harlowe home, the garden, to continue her letter writing and exchanging of letters i n a safe environment. Janet Butler examines the symbolic nature of the garden which becomes Clarissas expansive space out of reach of her family, her safe haven. Of interest to Butlers argument is the fact that the garden is the one setting that f or centuries has functioned as the symbol of voluntary disobedience as well as the quintessential symbol of temptation, disobedience, and death (528 and 530). Butler expounds on this symbol, claiming that the symbolic meaning of the garden leaves the re ader to see Clarissa exerting her authority, acting as willing participant in Lovelaces act of carrying her away from the Harlowe household (528). At first glance, the wall that encloses the Harlowe home offers a deprivation of Clarissas open space. As w ith Clarissa, nature is effectively closed in/out. Richardson contrasts this enclosure with Sir Charles Grandisons spacious house, to use Lady Grandisons words (she mentions three times). The gardens and lawn seem from the windows of this spacious hou se to be as boundless as the mind of the owner, and as free and open as his countenance, writes Lady Grandison (7:44). While not spacious, neither is Clarissas garden completely
85 enclosed. In her garden, one finds loose bricks in the garden wall which b ecome the means for Clarissa to carry on her correspondence. These imperfections in her spatial enclosure, then, become a fresh opening to her physical, spiritual, and metaphoric space. Regardless of Clarissas ability to carry out her correspondence, he r physical home continues to be threatened. The stress of unwanted visits with Mr. Solmes, emotional separation from her entire family and friends, physical abuse by her brother and sister, and the removal of her private space are severe emotional trauma affecting Clarissas body in unhealthy ways. The Harlowes treatment completely strips her of the security and comfort she should find in her physical home. In addition to the fight or flight response referred to earlier, she records other physical reac tions, common symptoms found in the abused. First, Clarissas body reacts physically to the stresses: Indeed, I tremble at the prospect before me (1:44). This trembling leads to other bodily ailments over time, as on another occasion, Clarissa tells her parents: I said, I was not well: That the very apprehensions of these trials were already insupportable to me; and would increase upon me, as the time approached; and I was afraid I should be extremely ill (2:273). Further, in the following passage, we w itness Clarissas inability to think straight, as she desperately attempts to block out her un Christian like desire to commit suicide: I dont know what to do, not I! God forgive me, but I am very impatient! I wish but I dont know what to wish, without a sin! Yet I wish it would please God to take me to his mercy! I can meet with none here! What a world is this! (2:38). The number of dashes utilized in this passage suggest the severe fragmentation of Clarissas thoughts, her inability to complete a sent ence, her thoughts traveling in multiple directions. Her stress levels are so high that she has difficulty sleeping: Hardly a wink
86 have I slept (2:181), and when Clarissa does sleep: I  awakened not till past Six, and then in great terror, from a dre am, which has made such an impression upon me  (2:264). Clarissa is unable to function. She finds herself in a nightmare both as she sleeps and when she awakes. In addition, Lovelaces manipulations of the Harlowe family and their servants, leaves Clar issa unable to think rationally. She moves according to her emotions, solely fear by this time, as she, like the hunted animal, takes flight, through the symbolic garden gate. Clarissas survival instincts take control, as she voluntarily unbolted the doo r and stepped out (Butler 534). She runs from the Harlowe house and Harlowe control to what she perceives as the possibility for safety, Lovelaces housing and Lovelaces control. But will she find a home away from home? Boarding House or Brothel? Clari ssas London Residence In contemporary society, m any young adults have difficulty transitioning from the comfort and support of their familial home to a new home away from home. Young men and women living away from home while they attend college, for inst ance, take up a transitional space between past familial home with parents and siblings and their future home with spouse and children. Although Clarissa is no college student, she experiences this transitional space being away from home for the first time In her dwelling with Lovelace, she resides in a purgatory of sorts, caught between the Harlowe home and her future home. In this new space, nostalgic memories of belonging associated with the Harlowe home plague her in her exiled condition, necessitating the construction of her future home. In order to arrive at this future home, however, Clarissa encounters mental
87 and physical abuse, and extreme trauma, always struggling against forces seeking to deprive her of a sense of home. Joan Higginss Homes an d Institutions explores people who live in prisons, hostels, boarding houses, etc., noting that they live in these conditions sometimes out of choice but often out of necessity (159). Although Clarissa believes she leaves the Harlowe house out of nece ssity and by her own choice, actually Lovelace had arranged the conditions of her necessary departure. He inflicts terror on Clarissa, makes her think she has no choice but to run before her family catches her. Once away from home and securely in Mrs. Sinc lairs boarding house, Clarissas ultimate feelings parallel the institutionalized as Higgins outlines: For many people removed from their own homes there is a feeling of having lost a sense of belonging and a sense of place. Home is associated with famil iarity, both in a physical and an emotional sense. It involves a set of affective relationships, currently or previously, based upon kinship and friendship. It also re inforces an individuals sense of identity, partly through memories and associations wit h the past. (171) Clarissas loss of a sense of belonging, a value found within the social home, manifests itself further than that which she suffers through her exile from her family. Clarissas choices separate her from the residents of the boarding ho use in part. However, Lovelaces many contrivances with Mrs. Sinclair and her nieces keep Clarissa from developing new friendships and maintaining old ones. Indeed, the boarding house in London can never be a home for Clarissa. Lovelace has seen to it th at the seedy truth behind this dwelling and its residents is kept from Clarissa. Lovelace has complete
88 control over the inhabitants of the house, including Clarissa. Despite Clarissas attempts to exert her own personal choices, Lovelace maintains the powe r over Clarissas physical and social home space. Immediately, Clarissa attempts to set boundaries between her self and the women of the boarding house: Pray, Mr. Lovelace, inform them of all my particularities. If they are obliging, they will allow for them. I come not hither to make new acquaintance (3:290). Clarissa has no desire to construct a social home out of this place. She views this house as a temporary space as she attempts reconciliation with her parents. However, even if Clarissa did w ish to foster friendships to make this place more comfortable, she senses there is something odd about Lovelaces supposed relations: But with these two Nieces of the Widow, I never can be intimate I dont know why (3:300). Friendship, like love, is most ly instinctual, a matter of chemistry. Being a woman of high morals and Christian virtue, Clarissa senses the absence of such in others. Although Lovelace speaks of the womens goodness, to Clarissa they do not appear as such. She writes:  instantly, u pon her making the request, it came into my thought, that I was in a manner a stranger to every body in the house: Not much as a servant I could call my own, or of whom I had any great opinion (3:338). Sadly for Clarissa, this boarding house lacks famili arity as Higgins suggests it, both in a physical and an emotional sense. Although Lovelace offers Clarissa a servant, Dorcas will never be like Clarissas own servant, confidant, and friend, Hannah. Clarissa never fully trusts Dorcas, although she fei gns such at times in order to affect her escape attempts. Dorcas, as with everyone else residing in and/or visiting the boarding house, is no more than a device in Lovelaces many plots. Dorcas remains faithful to Lovelace thereby canceling out any possibi lity of
89 friendship between herself and Clarissa. As long as Clarissa resides in a house provided for her by Lovelace, she will never feel a full sense of belonging. Once Clarissa is able to choose her own dwelling and keep Lovelace away, she will be able t o sit back and enjoy the comforts of a social home. While a supportive atmosphere is essential to a social home, part of being supportive is to respect anothers need for privacy. When Clarissa lives at home, she has the privacy of her closet where she was once free to write and read as she pleases. Once she becomes the object of her familys strive for upward social mobility, however, her family evokes their right to search her closet, and she loses privacy. Once in London, Clarissa is under the mi staken notion that she has privacy within her closet. Although she admits that Lovelace is certainly a deep and dangerous man; and it is therefore but prudence to be watchful, and to be provided against the worst, she believes, indeed she is certain [h er] Letters are safe (4:151). Recall, however, Samuel Pepys and his wifes private furnishings with secret compartments. Clarissa will find no privacy within this house of ill repute so long as Lovelace contrives to gain complete and total control over al l. As Pepys has access to the secret compartments, so has Lovelace a master key which will open every lock in [Clarissas] chest [...]. Furthermore, Lovelace instructs Dorcas to sift through Clarissas belongings when she is able, taking care, when she searches for papers, before she removes any thing, to observe how it lies, that she may replace all to a hair (4:45). Lovelace muses on the terror he will instill on Clarissa, I shall never rest till I have discovered in the first place, where the dear c reature puts her Letters (4:46). Indeed, as Lovelace later tells Belford,
90  while we were at the Play, Dorcas, who had her orders, and a key to her Ladys chamber, as well as a master key to her drawers and mahogany chest, closet key and all, found mea ns to come at some of Miss Howes last written letters. [S]he assembled three ready writers of the n on apparents ; and Sally and she, and they employed themselves with the utmost diligence [in copying the letters for Lovelace]. (4:173) Copying Clarissas letters is not enough to fulfill Lovelaces desire for complete control. In order for him to have his way with her mind, body, and soul he also steals Annas letters to Clarissa, forges his own letters to Clarissa written in Annas hand, and finally reso rts to ceasing all correspondence between Anna and Clarissa. Privacy, Clarissa never know s while under Lovelaces control. Lovelaces desire to control Clarissa is suggestive of the imbalance of power focused upon in a nthropologi cal and feminist s tudies Scholars in both fields note that gender plays a large role in who feels at home, who has freedom to come and go and do as he pleases, and who (read woman) becomes like a prisoner, trapped, afraid, and dependent on others. Tony Chapman and Jenny Hockeys arguments suggest that domestic safety is often an illusion for women: Gender also impacts upon another core characteristic of the ideal home its safety. The notion that home, in an ideal sense, is a place of safety is shown to be highly gendered. It bin ds women of all ages into the home and fosters their dependence upon male relatives; adolescent girls, women wishing to separate from a male partner and older single women are often
91 advised, either implicitly or explicitly, of the special dangers that face them in public space. (11) Laura Goldsacks A Haven in a Heartless World? echoes this examination of gendered space, as she reveals the difficulty that lies within the idea of home security when the dangers of the outside world force women into the pri vate sphere of the home where they, in turn, are forced to rely on the protection of often dangerous men: While much of the sociological literature on home emphasizes characteristics of harmony and personal control over their environment, there is now much evidence to demonstrate that the home is a gendered environment where womens options can be seriously restricted. These constraints can include social isolation, economic dependenceand inequalities in the exercise of domestic labourSimilarly, in the c ase of women who are abused by men whom they know, the home is a place over which they have little control. (126) Goldsack adds: This fear of public abuse can lead to a loss and restriction of public participation and ironically, a greater dependency on t hose men they know who may be the greatest source of danger (132). Lovelace embodies the imbalance of power in the gendered home space. He uses rationalizations of the dangers women should fear outside of the so called safety of the home to his advantage (as he did with effecting Clarissas escape from the Harlowes). Lovelace seeks to control Clarissas movements by making her afraid to leave the house, afraid to wander outside without Lovelace or a male servant. His various plots revolve around Clarissas fear that her brother will find her and
92 force her to return to the Harlowe home and, especially, to a future as Mrs. Solmes. Upon Clarissas announcing that she is going to church one morning, Lovelace exclaims: To Church! [...] Who could have dreamt of such a whim as this? Without notice, without questions! Her cloths not come! No leave asked! [...S]he dont consider, if she go to Church, I must go too! Yet not to ask for my company! He then adds his version of the truth regarding his depriving Clarissa of free movement outside the house: Her brother and Singleton ready to snap her up, as far as she knows! (3:317) James has certainly abandoned his task by this time, yet, Lovelace has her believing otherwise. I had, by Dorcas, represented her danger fro m Singleton [Jamess man in the search for Clarissa], in order to dissuade her from going at all [to church] (4:175). As far as Clarissa knows, information Lovelace supplies her with, James is still a threat to her safety, one of Chapman and Hockeys sp ecial dangers, and she must rely on Lovelace to protect her; she is bound to him and to the physical confines of the boarding house. For many women in the home space, privacy, as Goldsack notes, comes at a price of safety: to be private can signify de privation as well as advantage. For women in the home, privacy can mean confinement, captivity and isolation (121). Clarissa feels that her correspondence is safe in her closet and that she is safe behind locked and double locked doors, but as with so man y victims of domestic abuse, Clarissa learns a difficult lesson about privacy and safety. Clarissa is not physically safe within the boundaries of the boarding house. When Clarissa arrives, she immediately  inspected the doors, the windows, the wainsco t, the dark closet as well as the light one; and finding very good
93 fastenings to the door, and to all the windows, I again had recourse to my pen (3:296). Despite this initial security check and the comfort and safety she imagines she possesses, Clarissa is not safe. Lovelace, himself, is the greatest threat to Clarissas safety. Indeed, Lovelace is obsessed with the power he maintains over Clarissas movements and Clarissa herself: Oh no! She is in the next apartment! Securely mine! Mine for ever! (3:4) ; And is she not IN MY POWER? (3:31); and I do not intend to let this matchless creature slide through my fingers (4:124). Lovelace is neither satisfied with mere control of Clarissas every movement, nor with knowing Clarissas most intimate thought s and feelings. He has his sights set on Clarissas body to satisfy his appetite. Lovelace starts small, each time further invading Clarissas personal boundaries. On May 20 th he writes: I kissed her charming hand.  Fifty times kissed her hand, I belie ve. Once her cheek, intending her lip, but so rapturously, that she could not help seeming angry (4:145). Lovelace sees his actions and Clarissas response as rapture and feigned anger respectively. He manipulates the truth of the events into a light more favorable to his desires, effectually excusing his depraved behavior. The following day, Lovelace writes to Belford of his physical treatment of Clarissa treatment bordering on physical abuse: Pray, Mr. Lovelace, do not grasp my hands so hard (endeavouri ng to withdraw them). Pray let me go.  Pray be not violent  And I clasped one arm about her, holding one hand in my other (4:193). Lovelace finds it more and more difficult to keep his hands off her, so much so that despite her pleas to let her go, he reads play in their interaction. The next day: And a third time I would have taken her repulsing hand (4:207). Clarissas hand is repulsing yet this does not deter Lovelace. Two days later he again takes freedoms with Clarissas
94 body, depriving her of any right to her own body: I kissed her unrepulsing hand no less than five times during this conversation (4:235). Four days later, Lovelaces minor allowances with Clarissas hand take a more serious turn: My dearest life, folding my arms about her  (4:286). And then, clasping my arms about her, I gave her averted cheek (her charming Lip designed) a fervent kiss (4:302 3). Lovelace restrains Clarissas body and engulfs her personal boundaries into that of his own. Clarissas personal space is m omentarily stripped away as Lovelaces personal space takes precedence, widens itself. Six days after Lovelace takes these freedoms, he begins to show actions resembling those of a rapist: My cheek reclined on her shoulder kissing her hands by turns. Rath er bashfully than angrily reluctant, her hands sought to be withdrawn; her shoulder avoiding my reclined cheek . I then gave her struggling hands liberty. I put one arm round her waist: I imprinted a kiss on her sweet lips,  and then, with my other h and, drew aside the handkerchief that concealed the Beauty of beauties, and pressed with my burning lips the charming breast that ever my ravished eyes beheld.  She struggled out of my encircling arms with indignation. I detained her reluctant hand. Let me go, said she. (4:332 33) For every movement Lovelace m akes against Clarissa, she counters with repulsion, withdrawing her hands, her shoulder avoiding his cheek. Lovelace goes too far with his actions, however, when he aims to touch Clarissas breast s. Clarissas words, Let me go, are chilling. It is only a matter of time before Lovelace grows weary of Clarissas
95 pulling away what he deems playing coy and becomes the rapist he increasingly appears to be. Lovelaces restrictions on Clarissas free movement from the house and various freedoms taken with her hands, cheeks, and breasts (prior to the rape) cause Clarissa to suffer fits and stronger fits (3:276) a fit of passionate despair (4:197 98), excessive trembling (4:203), and sheer exhaust ion and despondency as seen through Lovelaces eyes: I looked thro the key hole at my going by her door, and saw her on her knees, at her beds feet, her head and bosom on the bed, her arms extended  and in an agony she seemed to be, sobbing, as I hea rd at that distance, as if her heart would break (5:12) and I raised her: But down she sunk, as if quite disjointed; her limbs failing her (5:286). One would think that Clarissa would see the rape as the inevitable conclusion to Lovelaces increasing fr eedoms. However, as Kittredge makes clear: The many pages leading up to the rape have shown us that Clarissas extremely feminine behavior  actually makes her more vulnerable to Lovelaces machinations because she is unable to comprehend the wickedness of his intentions or to take direct action to thwart him (23 24). Therefore, following the rape on June 12 th we witness Clarissas complete mental breakdown. Her inability to know such behavior combined with the various mental and physical terrors Lovel ace and his cohorts inflicted on her prior to the rape leave her emotionally unstable, feeling defeated. Three days after the rape, Lovelace records the change in Clarissas mental faculties:  she is quite stupefied  insensibility (shall I call it?) as she has been in ever since Tuesday morning.  Excess of grief, excess of terror, has made a persons hair stand on end, and even  changed the colour
96 of it. But that it should stupefy, as to make a person, at times, insensible to those imaginary wr ongs  is very surprising! [...] For so much has grief stupefied her, that she is at present as destitute of will, as she always seemed to be of desire. (5:297 98) Clarissa does not remain stupefied, for s he enters a manic state, unable to think straig ht. Lovelace describes her as raving mad fearing that her intellects are irreparably hurt (5:301). Clarissas comfort becomes difficult ; w hen she sits down to write, she is unable to focus, what she writes she tears, and throws the paper in fragments under the table (5:302). This act symbolizes the complete loss of trust Clarissa has experienced in the boarding house. She now knows there is no such thing as personal privacy for her body and mind, and her papers must be ripped to shreds to avoid invasi ve perusing by unwelcome eyes. Some of her letters are saved, however, and we witness the change in Clarissas state of mind: I sat down to say a great deal My heart was full I did not know what to say first And thought, and grief, and confusion, and (Oh my poor head!) I cannot tell what And thought, and grief, and confusion, came crowding so thick upon me; one would be first, another would be first, all would be first; so I can write nothing at all Only that, whatever they have done to me, I cannot tell; but I am no longer what I was in any one thing. (5:303) The repetition of thought, and grief, and confusion together with the parenthesis underline Clarissas extreme duress. Furthermore, Clarissas stream of consciousness is jagged as we witness her dif ficulty in tracking down her purpose for writing Lovelace, What would I say! I forget what I was going to say (5:310) and But this is nothing to
97 what I wanted to say. Now I have it! I have lost it again  let me hurry off my thoughts, lest I lose the m again Here I am sensible And yet I am hardly sensible neither But I know my head is not as it should be, for all that (5:311). Once again, the hyphens characterize her fragmented thoughts. Her words, lost and lose and sensible but hardly sensible enforce the fact that Clarissa suffers severe loss to her mental faculties. She is, at this time, no longer the clear headed, determined, independent fighter she once was. The important thing to look at, however, is what Gillis notes, that though raped and in one sense broken, Clarissa still writes.  (53). Writing kept Clarissa sane at the Harlowes home; a cathartic outlet, writing home helps Clarissa at the brothel as well. Writing sustains existence and affirms existence; these papers are Clariss a, indicating that though the body has been invaded, the moral core has not been altered. Clarissa will survive this final test. Lovelace still has both the heroine and her letters confined at this point, but that Clarissa can emerge from this rape/death and recognize her own role in it is evidence that the inner being still lives. (53) With the therapeutic aid of pen and paper to help her through, Clarissas mind does not remain broken. Indeed Richardson could not write a Clarissa forever submerged in psychological confusion and conflict, for this ending would offer no consistency of character and would not fulfill Richardsons intentions of reforming his reader through Clarissas example Richardson needed his heroine to exude a strength of mind, for his goal throughout is clearly that Clarissa maintain her high moral constitution. Richardson even sought out the
98 opinions of several judicious friends in deciding how he might shorten the novel while preserving the integrity of the text and thereby pres erving Clarissas integrity T hese gentlemen concluded that nothing could be removed: They were of the opinion that in all works of this, and of the dramatic kind, story or amusement should be considered as little more than the vehicle to the more necessa ry instruction : that many of the scenes would be rendered languid were they to be made less busy: and that the whole would be thereby deprived of that variety which is deemed the soul of a feast, whether mensal or mental (Richardson, Preface Clarissa 36) Richardson writes Clarissa as exemplifying strength of mind and moral surety and therefore, h er breakdown must be temporary enforcing the necessary instruction Clarissas example sets While Lovelace had up to the point of the rape controlled Clariss as correspondence and manipulated her very life, Richardson writes a female character completely capable of controlling her own destiny and standing up against the injustices of those who possess power. Clarissa deconstructs Lovelaces narrative in respon ding to his offer of marriage: I too much despise the wretch, who could rob himself of his wifes virtue (5:325). Mary Patricia Martin exposes Clarissas power here for as Clarissa uses Lovelaces own language against him: By treating herself as Lovela ce has treated her, granting his rape the power to name her, Clarissa frustrates his plots and dismantles his fictions (604). As Martin explains, the difference between Lovelaces and Clarissas stories come sharply into focus at this point (603). Doody argues that a feminist perspective becomes the way to properly read Clarissas story:
99 To tell a rape story is a political act. A strong rape story is a story about the necessity for revolution. In Clarissa, the revolution pointed towards is not a furt her movement in the Whig or Tory direction so much as the movement for the liberation of woman. So many people feel that they own Clarissa: her father, her family, Lovelace. Lovelace merely utters a commonplace when he assumes that once he has penetrated C larissa he must own her, and at the very least she will be only too glad to marry him. Clarissa after the rape utters the revolutionary statement: The man who has been the villain you have been shall never make me his wife. (Samuel Richardson 108 9) M artin writes: Lovelaces rape of Clarissa marks a narrative disjunction that can never be repaired. Once the difference in their stories is unequivocal, the right way to read Clarissa becomes clear (604). While Lovelace still hopes to write the end of their story in marriage I argue that Clarissa now knows that she can not experience marriage or any other aspect of an earthly home based on societal norms and expectations of women within the home ; she knows that she will only experience home in imaginin g, writing and knowing fully her own death. Through Clarissas choice to not marry Lovelace following the rape to not allow her story to be retold by Lovelaces hoped for happy ending in marriage, Richardson expresses his criticism of a government that censures the lively exchange of ideas but instead narrates its own reality for the preservation of its own power. Richardson, through his fictional heroine, reimagines a model society, one that is not governed solely by rich men (Doody, Samuel Richardso n 96). Indeed, Doody argues that Richardson in his
100 career as printer never forgot that the poor should have a voice and engage in the lively exchange of ideas (Samuel Richardson 96). In his writing career, Richardson writes a voice for the poor by mea ns of his now physically destitute Clarissa He gives her power and a voice through writing Clarissas construction of a metaphorical home through writing exposes the injustices in the home ideal as initiated by those who govern and protest s the se expecta tions of home disclaiming them as the model for all [T]he loss of secrecy through the act of burglary has a fundamental impact on victims sense of place (Chapman 141). Chapmans statement from Spoiled Home Identities: The Experience of Burglary of fers sociological insight into the loss that Clarissa suffers due to Lovelaces theft of her virtue, privacy, sense of self, and sense of belonging. Clarissas deepest secrets fall into the hands of Lovelace, for after the rape, he knows her both mind and body. At the brothel, the presence of Clarissas belongings, her clothes and a few books are not enough to offer her the complete comfort of a physical and social home. Therefore, Clarissa escapes Lovelace and this unhealthy house, ready to recover fro m her traumatic experiences and write the ending of her story, her death, and a home of her own. Of Wombs and Coffins: Clarissas Final Resting Place A barn, an outhouse, a garret, will be a palace to me, if it will but afford me a refuge from this man -Clarissa Harlowe (5:120).
101 During her entrapment in the brothel, Clarissa turns to the one constant in her life, religion foreshadowing her unconventional home space to come. God, she knows, remains as her supportive atmosphere even while her imme diate family has abandoned her, exiled her. She writes to Lovelace of reconciliation not with her family but with her spiritual father, All that can afford you the least shadow of favour from me, arises from the hoped for Reconciliation with my real frien ds not my Judas protector (5:10). Lovelace, she knows, does not resemble her ultimate protector regardless of any obligation she may have to him. The comfort God brings her and the knowledge that her afterlife is secure in Gods presence gives her the c onfidence to face her fate, death, and allows her to gather her confused thoughts in the penning of the following verse: Death only can be dreadful to the Bad: To innocence tis like a bugbear dressd To frighten children. Pull but off the mask, And hell appear a friend. As well as: When Honours lost, tis a relief to die: Deaths but a sure retreat from infamy. (5:308) 3 Death is foremost on Clarissas mind. Life holds no prospects of happiness for her. Only death will finally hand her the supportive atmosphere, safe haven, and privacy she once desired from an earthly home. Clarissas choice of home space, then, comes to her after her successful escape from Lovelace and the house of ill repute. Realizing the impermanence and precariousness of any earthly home, Clarissa fully accepts her finality and embraces her future home in the afterlife. Clarissa orders
102 and purchases her coffin to be built to her specifications so as to house her physical body and offer it the comforts of home. Then Clarissa s soul will continue on to a better place, a place like Bachelards felicitous space, a stable and permanent, familiar and lasting home never realized on earth but only in a temporal home in heaven. Wall presents Rachel Tricketts arguments about eighteenth century novels and the absence of descriptive settings. Novels, Wall summarizes, developed their own idiosyncratic attention to space, highlighting human actions and relationships against a pictorially and spatially vague background that would not interfere with or unnecessarily color the moral movements of the text (Narratives of Private Spaces 216). Indeed, in the earlier sections we see few furnishings. Chairs catch Clarissa in her failing health, fireplaces catch weapons Clarissa threaten s to use on her self, Lovelace uses keyholes to subject his prey to his gaze, and barred windows symbolize Clarissas captivity within the brothel. One background item, however, finally stands out as a strong presence together with the moral vision of the novel Clarissas coffin. The coffin represents the spirituality of Clarissas earthly and after life, but its concrete presence offers a physical structure for Clarissa to finally realize her desire to possess a physical home. Clarissa writes wistfully to Anna of her blessings: You that can rise in a morning, to be blest, and to bless; and go to rest delighted with your own reflections, and in your unbroken, unstarting slumbers, conversing with saints and angels, the former only more pure than yourself, as they have shaken off the incumbrance of body (6:106). Clarissa seeks, then, first of all, a secure, private, physical retreat like that which Anna possesses in her physical home. Alive, Clarissas living breathing body remains unable to feel a per fectly safe haven, for there remains the threat that Lovelace will find her.
103 She begs Anna to let no living creature be apprised where I am to be heard of, or directed to, explaining, This is a point that concerns me, more than I can express. In short my preservation from further evils may depend upon it (6:111). There is no rest for the wicked, and neither is there rest for his innocent prey. Therefore, for Clarissas earthly comfort, the coffin must supply both a place for her body to rest at last and a place where it may be safe from Lovelace. She desires her coffin to be her physical home. In Clarissas Coffin, Allan Wendt offers an analysis of the novel in terms of orthodox beliefs which held that mans nature is vile, that his actions s timulated by physical passion are bound to lead to sin, and that virtue, if it may be achieved at all, may be achieved only by a repression of natural impulses (482). Wendt argues that Clarissa is the epitome of these orthodox beliefs, for she denies physical passions in favor of a reward in the afterlife. Kittredge, on the other hand, acknowledges Clarissas creation of her own independent householdthrough the furnishing of the coffin she refers to as her house (24). I argue that this detail of an independent household is important to an analysis of Richardsons heroic character as she struggles to realize a natural impulse for woman, the impulse to nest, the freedom to build a place to call home. While building a house may not be a sexual p assion, Clarissas concise construction of her coffin shows passion, indeed. When Clarissa orders her coffin, she is not repressing natural impulses in favor of a reward in the hereafter as Wendt surmises. Instead, she embraces these impulses, takes gr eat pleasure in the construction of something an eighteenth century woman was not allowed personal property, a space of her own, a place to call her own, a home. In the passionate creation, decoration, and
104 setting up the physical boundaries of this house I argue, Richardson affords Clarissa the symbolic and psychological power associated with home. And as to what I want the money for dont be surprised: But suppose I want it to purchase a house? (7:207). Clarissa speaks these words as she prepares t o enter a future uncommon for woman of the eighteenth century. Clarissa joins the ranks of the homeowner by purchasing her home. While prospective homeowners of her time would consider how much property is an appropriate representations of their social sta nding, Clarissa requires a mere six feet seven inches in length, 25 and a quarter inches in width enough personal space to house her body. 4 I find Clarissas choice fascinating but not bizarre. Homeowners visions of comfort and security and the joy and pride they feel in being a homeowner become tarnished by the everyday maintenance of the home. Anna Letitia Barbaulds poem Washing Day, for example, offers an excellent portrayal of the chaotic atmosphere in the home, for the woman of the house and her staff are busy with all hands employed to wash, to rinse, to wring,/ To fold, and starch, and clap, and iron, and plait (146). And in chapter one of this dissertation, I explore how Mary Leapor (although not a homeowner) shows a country house complete wi th spider webs, mice, and greasy Pavements. Furthermore, in fiction, authors often attempt to express their desires for a space of refuge away from the constant difficulties in life. Wall presents Daniel Defoe as a case in point. Defoes Roxana, she arg ues, focuses on the unsuccessful attempts made by Roxana to find and create a psychologically secure structure within predetermined spaces. Such attempts, she points out, conclude Defoes own imaginative search for a fictional refuge (Narratives of Pr ivate Spaces 204 5). Leapor, too, writes her fictional
105 refuge, a metaphorical home space in her writing, much the way Clarissa maintained a social home in letter writing while living with her family. After her escape, Clarissa realizes the precarious nature of home more fully because she has experienced trauma within the home worse than the daily chores of a typical housewife or servant, worse than she had experienced under her familys restrictions at home. The drawing of her coffin to her specificati ons, as with Defoes writing, will provide her with the safe haven of a physical home. However, refuge on earth is a fictional, imaginative process. Much of the feeling of home occurs within the confines of the human mind. We imagine ourselves to be se cure, to possess privacy, to be at home. Unfortunately, this feeling of home is precarious in nature, susceptible to destruction and penetration by outside forces. Judith Fryer argues in Felicitous Space : The appeal of childhood recalled is its simplicit y.  places recalled seem havens that foster creativity (228). My argument takes Fryers further back before childhood even, for in a state of pre birth, with in the womb one lives in complete warmth, security, and comfort Thus, Clarissas choice of a coffin as her house symbolizes the womb in its darkness and tight enclosures as she seeks to be reborn, given a second chance to feel safe and comfortable. Clarissas coffin, therefore, represents a refuge, one that can be found only in the afterlife, in spiritual hominess, in the permanence of a temporal home with God. Good Heaven! what a woman is this! She went into the back shop, and talked with the master of it about half an hour, and came from him with great serenity; he waiting upon her to he r chair with a respectful countenance, but full of curiosity and seriousness  As soon as you can, Sir, were her words to him as she got into the chair (7:248). Belfords description of Clarissa shows her embracing her role of architect, the
106 creative ge nius behind the structure. In designing her coffin, Clarissa accomplishes more than merely creating a physical object in which to house her body; she expresses herself and offers a representation of her personal identity. Robert Folkenflik argues: Clariss as triumph isrepresented in terms of space. Her allegorical letter to Lovelace speaks of her reception into her Fathers house, the only place where she can now have a liberated existence. The extreme restrictions of her earthly house will give way to a Christian conception of a place of familial comfort. The flight from her earthly fathers house is replaced by her assurance that her heavenly father is prepared to receive her. (595) The great serenity with which Clarissa exits the undertakers shop e mphasizes the void this purchase has filled within her heart. She begins to feel complete as she establishes a sense of self, one that will allow her not only peace and control, but at long last, a place to call her home. According to Doody, Richardson offers two expressions of time, Clarissas time cut short as she dies young but also Clarissas short life [being] long enough to prepare for heaven ( A Natural Passion 184). Doody focuses on this recurring image of time in Clarissas death scene every l ast moment recorded in letters, her watch giving the exact time of death, and the engravings she chooses for her coffin all expressions of Clarissa as an heir of eternity ( A Natural Passion 186). Indeed, I argue that the decorative engravings Clarissa ad ds to her coffin while they are symbolic of the eternity of her time after life, also suggest her mental and spiritual growth as she simultaneously satisfies her
107 earthly need to build a home while moving closer to rejecting earthly matters, moving toward t he more satisfying heavenly home in death. First: The principal device, neatly etched on a plate of white metal, is a crowned Serpent, with its tail in its mouth, forming a ring, the emblem of Eternity: And in the circle made by it is this inscription: CLA RISSA HARLOWE  (7:311 12). Doody writes of the futility of personal property in earthly time: Dictating, as her grandfather attempted to do, that material objects should be kept to the end of time is an ironic futility ( A Natural Passion 186). As ev idenced i n Clarissas choice of the serpent on her coffin Richardson allows Clarissa to escape the prison of time, as Doody further argues. As Belford notes, the serpent with its tail in its mouth, Ouroboros, is symbolic of eternity, yet as per Genesis, in Christian faith the serpent is also symbolic of Satan and sin. Clarissa expresses her identity through the symbolic manifestation of the serpent as a figure of the evil she has known on earth and a promise of eternal life beyond death. Clarissa knows w hat being a human entails in all of its horrific and violent detail. Placing this symbol of that evil on her coffin shows that Clarissa acknowledges the existence of evil but does not fear it. She possesses the knowledge of and faith in Christs sacrifice for the forgiveness of original sin. She is secure in her belief that God forgives her sins and, upon her death, will welcome her cleansed and reborn soul into heaven for all eternity. Clarissas second symbol is an Hour glass winged (7:312). The hourgl ass at first seems to contradict the principal device, for, unlike the serpent as eternity, the hour glass with its sands running out in time reminds us that life is finite. However, turn the hour glass upside down and the sands run anew, thereby suggest ing the Christian belief in an
108 afterlife, that life does begin again, an echoing of the serpent as symbolic of eternity. The serpent combined with the hour glass metaphorically protects Clarissa from earthly matters while allowing the resurrection of her s oul into her future home, a new life after death. Furthermore, the hourglass was also used to symbolize temperance as she was often depicted holding an hourglass. 5 The Harlowes may use Clarissa to fulfill their earthly desires for an elevated social statu s, Lovelace may use her to fulfill his sexual needs, yet Clarissa alone controls her spiritual destiny. The hourglass, then, acts as a sign announcing the contents of the coffin: Clarissa Harlowe, temperance embodied, never giving in to her parents tempta tions to draw her into a loveless marriage or Lovelaces temptations to draw her into a life of sex and deceit, living beyond these earthly difficulties in the eternity of death. For her final engraving, Clarissa chooses the lily: Over this text [a biblic al passage from Job] is the head of a white Lily snapt short off, and just falling from the stalk (7:312). Elizabeth R. Napier analyzes the lily as suggestive of a future dialogue between the deceased Clarissa and Lovelace. She argues: The image of the white lily snapped off short [sic], now indelibly inscribed on her coffin, defies in its permanence Lovelaces motif of the reaper, of the worm or caterpillar, preying on the leaves and buds of flowers (220). The lily, however, holds deeper symbolic me aning worthy of Clarissas Christian beliefs and future heavenly home. Various authors and artists have used the lily in conjunction with purity and virginity and especially with the Virgin Mary. 6 Although Clarissa has been robbed of her chastity, like the white Lily snapt short off, she retains her purity in a spiritual sense. Never having given in to sexual temptation
109 by choice, she remains spiritually chaste, repenting not any sexual misconduct on her part, but rather, those choices which led her into danger. Despite the homey decorative touches of her engravings on the exterior of her coffin, Clarissas coffin as a home space appears claustrophobic. Clarissa had more physical room while living in the brothel with Lovelace. However, his constant spying, snooping, restrictions on her comings and goings, and mentally and physically abusive behavior placed her into a mentally confining, claustrophobic space. Once outside of Lovelaces manipulative physical space, however, Clarissas body remains in danger. She writes: I hope I am safe. All the risque I run, is in going out, and returning from morning prayers.  The wicked wretches I have escaped from, will not I hope come to Church to look for me (6:193). The repetition of the word hope rather than a s imple statement I am safe emphasizes the fact that Clarissas physical space is not safe so long as Lovelace is free to hunt her. Clarissa is not free to move around town or attend church services without disguising her self. While Clarissa lives and br eathes, her body will not be safe from Lovelace. Neither will her body be safe once she is dead. Therefore, in order to complement the construction of her earthly home, Clarissa writes herself a safe haven, her last will and testament, a text which sets up a security fence around her last remaining piece of property her body within her physical home. Recall the image of the lily engraved upon Clarissas home as an object of purity. Few men in Clarissas life prove themselves to be Clarissas moral or sp iritual equal. Mr. Solmess perverse refusal to give up on her, Jamess jealousy fueling his abusive behavior toward her, Lovelaces theft of Clarissas physical space and bodily virtue, and even Mr. Harlowes using Clarissa to advance his
110 familys fortune and status, motivate Clarissa to write:  it is my desire, that it [my body] shall not be touched but by those of my own Sex (8:97). With regards to Lovelace, however, she sets up further restrictions: And I could wish, if it might be avoided without making ill will between Mr. Lovelace and my Executor, that the former might not be permitted to see my corpse (8:98). Alas, Clarissa realizes that in earthly matters, full security may not be maintained permanently. Therefore, she writes an additional in struction: But if, as he is a man very uncontroulable, and as I am Nobodys, he insist upon viewing her dead, whom he ONCE before saw in a manner dead, let his gay curiosity be gratified. Let him behold, and triumph over the wretched Remains of one who ha s been made a victim to his barbarous perfidy: But let some good person, as by my desire, give him a paper, whilst he is viewing the ghastly spectacle, containing those few words only Gay, cruel heart! behold here the Remains of the once ruined, yet now happy, Clarissa Harlowe! See what thou thyself must quickly be; and REPENT! (8:98) Here we realize that the coffin as a symbol of future peace does not appear at all claustrophobic to Clarissa. 7 If conditions arise where Clarissas deceased body are plagued by Lovelaces invasive gaze, she makes sure his trespasses will be for the good with Clarissa controlling Lovelaces experience. Her note, she hopes, will teach him moral lessons from beyond the grave about how fleeting are life and matters of the body, and it will remind him of the importance of repenting to gain spiritual peace. Clarissas
111 plan of action shows the power her home space allows her, for she carries with and within her the strength of God. Clarissas spiritual space effectively r educes Lovelaces space. Her carefully drawn boundaries enable the reversal of the power dichotomy previously in effect between her self and Lovelace. In varying contrivances, Lovelace donned the part of writer, director, and actor within the theatrics of Clarissas existence. He set up the scenery, disguising the brothel as a boarding house and placing the props in their proper space several pieces of devotion (3:287) strategically placed in Clarissas closet; drew up the dramatis personae assigning the prostitutes the parts of the widow and her relations; directed his cast through various scenes as with the following: Mrs. Sinclair began to be afraid of mischief in her house I was apprehensive that she would overdo the matter, and be out of character (4:144). He dresses as an old man in order to gain access to Clarissa. He pens his letters to Belford in the manner of stage directions: ACT II. SCENE, Hampstead Heath continued. Enter my Rascal (5:68). And as I mentioned earlier, Lovelaces invasive e yes were repeatedly found peeking at Clarissa through keyholes like a voyeur at a peep show. Clarissa, like Eliza Haywoods Beauplisair in Fantomina, plays an unwitting role, indeed the main part, in the various acts and scenes authored by Lovelace as he s eeks to reach the plays climax, sexual relations with Clarissa Clarissa, unlike Beauplisair however, is never a willing participant in Lovelaces sexual escapades, but rather, the victim of his lies, deceit, and abuse. Clarissa finally reverses these ro les, placing herself in the seat of power, taking on the job of playwright in the authoring of her own story. 8 She ceases being the object of Lovelaces gaze and becomes, instead, the subject, the watcher by proxy, the storyteller
112 as well as actor. Her act ions parallel those of Lovelaces own as she refers to her own life using theatrical terminology:  I do so earnestly wish for the last closing scene  (6:188). Clarissa is fully aware of the precarious nature of life and joys within life. She realiz es now the truth of Shakespeares Jacques words: All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts (II, vii) In taking back her narrative from Lovelace s control, Clarissa draws up her own theatrics, gains control over herself as actor, becomes the director, steps into the role of playwright. Serge Soupel analyzing the mutually exclusive spaces (163) taken up by Lovelace and Clarissa, finds the many i dentities Clarissa takes on to be of interest: Clarissa, the metaphor of female persecution, amputates herself of her own essential self, her name, in order to give herself a chance to survive the radical amputations imposes upon her or planned for her by the arch image maker and space appropriator [Lovelace] (167). While Lovelaces appropriation of Clarissas body is violent in nature, Clarissa never resorts to violence against Lovelace in retaliation; her ruses are completely for self preservation. Kitt redge notes Clarissas decision to not seek revenge: instead [she] concentrates on creating her own independent household  through the furnishing of the coffins she refers to as her house (24). Clarissa does not take control in a negative manner following in Lovelaces stead, but rather turns to a healthier outlet, creation and imagination. Her unconventional home space gives her pleasure while she thinks ahead and embraces the place where she can give up all desire for control or power, completel y
113 let down her guard in exchange for peace, security, comfort, and even family togetherness and a sense of belonging her permanent home with God, her father, in the afterlife. Returning to the quote with which I opened this chapter, when Bachelard wrote his preference for impermanence over finality, he obviously did not consider the tight mental spaces into which women, represented here by the fictional Clarissa, are often forced within oppressive societies Within the dark, stuffy, tight and all too permanent and final space of Clarissas coffin, Richardson presents his heroine with an infinite amount of spiritual and psychological space and the power that comes with her newfound expansive freedom. Clarissas construction of her coffin is, in the word s of Minrose C. Gwin, large and largely pleasurable, while the large Lovelaces power as representative of the oppressive male dominated, aristocracy becomes stunted and insubstantial (12). Lovelace, James, Mr. Harlowe, Mr. Solmes, indeed all earthly f igures themselves, are largely powerless against Clarissas fortress of death. Looking at Clarissas increasing strength of mind throughout her story, I realize that death is not, as Martin argues, Clarissas greatest triumph. I argue instead that Clari ssas greatest triumph is easily found in her construction of a home of her own. According to Doody: What we are meant to see [in Clarissa] is the development of a mind which has passed from innocence to experience. Disguises and partitions have been removed Clarissa no longer moves in a world of half heard conversations, and ingenious illusions ( Natural Passion 209). Clarissas metaphorical house is a triumph because she builds it herself, outside of societal expectations and norms. Clarissa had exis ted in the illusion of home for which her parents strove and within Lovelaces illusion
114 of the brothel as a respectable house. However, within the space of writing and in constructing her coffin as home, Clarissa takes control of her story. She becomes, as Doody writes, self sufficient and independent ( Natural Passion 209). Richardson may be a male writer writing a womans story of home, however his career as a printer with an agenda as I noted earlier, to never forgot that the poor should have a vo ice (Doody, Samuel Richardson 96) gives Richardson the perspective needed to write Clarissa as an outspoken young woman in a society oppressive to women In his Preface, Richardson s printing agenda is echoed in his caution to parents against the und u e exertion of their natural authority over their children in the great article of marriage (36). Richardson uses Clarissas final resting place as a warning to parents of the outcome of this undue exertion. If society continues to allow those in power to maintain their interests to the detriment of the powerless, as exhibited through the Harlowes power over Clarissa then a home space found in writing and the expression of ones self will not be possible for all but those in power. Indeed, Clarissas tr iumph is Richardsons triumph. Clarissa s story teaches the reader a valuable lesson about providing ones children with freedom of choice rather than forcing undue exertion over them. Richardson expresses Clarissas triumph in her replacing the ineffect ive Harlowe family with friends of her own choosing. These friends provide Clarissa with a supportive atmosphere in a social home These friends gives Clarissa the strength of mind to see through the societal illusions of home and to achieve the indep endence of a personal home And within the writing of her alternate home space, Richardsons Clarissa feels home as a safe haven, safe within her coffin, safe within her writing space, safe with her heavenly father, safe in her physical home.
115 No tes 1. In the introduction to this dissertation, I present Liz Kenyons four categories of home, Temporal, Personal, Social, and Physical, as central to the development of a complete emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical sense of home. All references to these four categories and the values found therein (independence and freedom; memories; supportive atmosphere; friendly neighbourhood; a comfortable environment; and a safe haven) are drawn from Kenyons study, A Home from Home: Students Transitional Experience of Home. 2. In Chapter One of this dissertation, I discuss in greater detail the differences in friendships in the 18 th Century in my examination of 18 th Century poet, Mary Leapor. The varying definitions of friends can ra nge from blood family, to owners of a house and their servants, to a relationship based on personal choice and compatibility. While Clarissas friends addressed here are the members of the Harlowe family, Clarissas friendship with Anna epitomizes the de finition of friendship as we think of it today. 3. Margaret Ann Doody offers a comparison of Richardsons novel, an especially Clarissas deathbed section, to that of seventeenth century devotional literature in her chapter entitled The Deathbed Theme in Cla rissa (within A Natural Passion ). She draws on the following passage from Tillotsons devotional Sermons in examining the varying role of repentance in the deaths of Benton, Mrs. Sinclair, Lovelace, and Clarissa: The difference between good and bad men i s never so remarkable in this
116 world, as when they are upon their death bed (168). Doody writes: The soul and the world are at odds. The world is too small for the spirit; the glorious soul reaches upwards toward the heaven (152). When Clarissas writes in a positive manner of death in her poetry, she exhibits the knowledge of the discord of which Doody writes. Clarissa clearly exhibits that she is of the good men, facing death, as Doody says, with unity and joy (122). 4. Clarissas coffin would have bee n drawn to order according to her actual size. Not having Clarissas proportions, the coffins size offered here is according to a generic sizing of the Sandler Allwood Coffin, a model offered for purchase at Casketfurniture.com. 5. Temperance can be seen in this fashion, for instance, in Ambrogio Lorenzettis fourteenth century fresco of Good Government and in Cornelis Matsyss mid sixteenth century print Temperance Holds an Hourglass. 6. Both Chaucer and Shakespeare use the lily as applied to persons or t hings of exceptional whiteness, fairness, or purity (def. 3a). Indeed, the use of the lily in association with icon of Christian purity, the Virgin Mary, was a common theme in Christian art. Works such as fourteenth century artists Simone Martinis, The A nnunciation and Giotto Di Bondones Ognissanti Madonna and fifteenth centurys Fra Filippo Lippis Adoration of the Christ Child either depict the Virgin Mary receiving lilies or Mary and baby Christ with lilies at Marys feet. 7. Quite often women find the smallest spaces offer more room to breathe than the largest houses. In various literary works, women can be found taking shelter within tight spaces rather than suffering trauma outside of their small refuge. Minrose C.
117 Gwin argues the expansiveness of tig ht private spaces in The Woman in the Red Dress: Gender, Space, and Reading. Analyzing Harriet Jacobss home space within a garret not much larger than her body in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and the home space of a toilet in Geina Mhlopes The Toilet Gwin offers interesting parallels to Clarissas claustrophobic physical space. Gwins arguments allow us to revise Clarissas space in terms of spiritual and mental space as opposed to physical space: What is small and unpleasant [the garret or th e toilet]becomes large and largely pleasurable through an act of the imagination (12). Gwin argues further on both situations. Regarding Jacobs, she says: small space becomes large because, although she suffers physical and mental anguish, she has evade d the more constricted and dangerous social relations of a woman who is a slave in the house of a man intent on raping her (Gwin 31). And with Geina Mhlopes toilet, what is large the brutal and confining landscape of racist colonialism becomes, at least temporarily, stunted and insubstantial as a result (12). 8. Here Clarissas story can be likened to Harriet Jacobss own reversal of power, for Jacobs bores a hole in the floor of her garret in order to watch the comings and goings of her once oppressor, Dr Flint. In doing this, Gwin argues, she creates a spatial reversal. She has inverted the panoptic situation she had found herself in; she becomes the watcher rather than the watched (30). Although Clarissas eye does not spy on Lovelace, she possesses a support team who watch Lovelace for her, informing her of Lovelaces whereabouts, allowing her to take flight when necessary.
118 Chapter Three Primers, Disinheritance, and the Need for Ancestral Tradition: Voicing Home in Morrisons The Bluest Eye In this dissertations chapter on Mary Leapors poetry, I discussed the kitchen as seen from the servants perspective an alternative sense of home enmeshed in the labor that goes into maintaining a sense of home for the homeowners. Indeed, in many of the first homes built in the settlements in the United States, the kitchen stood as the focal point within the dwelling, the place where family, neighborhood, and community unite. The hearth retained a symbolic status as the heart of the house and family 1 Ton i Morrison captures the importance of the kitchen within her first novel, The Bluest Eye. Her characters undergo a variety of experiences therein which either help or hinder their development of a sense of home. Some characters create an emotionally restri ctive home while others recognize a home that offers a space conducive to physical, emotional and intellectual growth. This chapter contrasts Morrisons presentation of home as seen through the eyes of two young girls, eleven year old Pecola Breedlove and nine year old Claudia MacTeer; these two are both at an age when they begin building their first sense of home. However, the building of their home spaces becomes problematic, for they must face and ultimately come to terms with the societal ideal of hom e. George Yancy defines th e ideal as a product of those in power a product of Whiteness: a universal code of beauty, intelligence, superiority, cleanliness, and purity (108) I use the term ideal in this chapter, drawing from a combination of Ya ncys Whit e ness and
119 Barbara Burlison Mooneys description of the ideology of home as : a middle class domestic setting characterized by order, health, literacy, and morality (49) In this ideal, Mooney distinguishes between the physical and symbolic a spects of home, order and health relating to the physical dwelling and literacy and morality to social attributes (48). Certainly M orrison juxtaposes the two girls versions of home both physical and social against this ideal as they seek to fu lfill what sociologist Liz Kenyons defines as the three categories of home, 2 a social, physical, and personal home. T his study of home in The Bluest Eye focuses on Pecolas and Claudias contrasting home spaces which expose the important role commun ity plays in home building. In analyzing these contrasting home spaces, I discover that when children are denied the safe haven of a physical home, a supportive atmosphere from a friendly neighbourhood must step in and offer her a sense of belongin g and a social home. The presence or lack of a community ultimately decide s whether Pecola and Claudia have a chance to develop their own identity consisting of a strength of independence and freedom in her personal home. Of Storefronts and O ld, C old, and G reen Houses: Aberrations of Home and Community Here is the house. It is green and white. It has a red door. It is very pretty (Morrison, The Bluest Eye 3). Morrison begins The Bluest Eye with an excerpt from the Dick and Jane books, a series of grammar school primer s popular in the 1930 s. This image of home exemplifies the ideal image of home as aspired to by many. The white family presented in this ideal is made up of the nuclear family: a mother, father, one
120 boy, one girl, a cat and a d og all living within the very pretty green and white house picture perfect. Yet, as Shelley Wong suggests, the actions of the characters within the primer form an atomized condition and one that does not express joyful affirmation but, rather, almos t scornful repudiation. They [the family] refuse to play [with Jane] (471). Michael Awkward echoes Wongs analysis of the primer family as he argues that this home and family is based on rigid, emotionless figures incapable of deep feeling (59). Many sc holars deem the primer home as materialistic and little more than a wish (Wong 472), a myth (Awkward 59), a dream (Bump 152), or a dream myth (Bjork 32) against which society seeks to measure itself. Gurleen Grewal offers a denotative meaning of p rime that exposes the unrealistic side to the primers ideal home image: to cover (a surface) with a preparatory coat or color, as in painting (125). And Grewal adds, The reader is meant to see the debilitating effect of priming on black subjects: a consciousness turned against itself (125). In contrast to the ideal, Morrison presents women in Lorain, Ohio, the thin brown girls who hail from places like Meridian, Mobile, Aiken, and Baton Rouge (81) These women make it their life goal to achi eve the pristine existence of the ideal for their families images of Whiteness: sheets boiled white and pressed flat; the husbands clothes always mended, starched, and white; and a body ripe for child bearing (84 85) Geraldine, one of the thin brown girls represents the debilitating effect of priming on black subjects (Grewal 125). Within her clean and well organized model home, Geraldine lives with her child Louis Junior, her husband, and her cat, looking all too well like that which Patrick Bryce Bjork labels the sanitized image (31) of the family from the Dick and Jane primer. From the point of view of the communitys gaze,
121 Geraldines home (like the primer model, itself) is the epitome of the ideal. The primers opening words, Here is the house, is reflected in Geraldines home, a cookie cutter home: Where there are porch swings hanging from chains. Where the grass is cut with a scythe, where rooster combs and sunflowers grow in the yards, and pots of bleeding heart, ivy, and mother in law tongue line the steps and windowsills (82). Mother is very nice is reflected in Geraldines behavior toward her son, He was always brushed, bathed, oiled, and shod (86). However, t he minimalist description of the ideal exhibited in the prime r and in Geraldines home both obscure the fact that there is no play in these sanitized images, no funk (The dreadful funkiness of passion, the funkiness of nature, the funkiness of the wide range of human emotions ) (83). N o one plays with Jane, not her father, not her brother, and certainly not her mother; the entire family (pets included) displays what Awkward labels emotional estrangement (59). Geraldine and her husband, too, are emotionally estranged from their child: Geraldine did not talk to him, coo to him, or indulge him in kissing bouts, but she saw that every other desire was fulfilled (86), and when Junior gets beat up, His father just kept on reading the Lorain J ournal (88). Psychoanalyst Jessica Benjamin notes, a child must be raise d on Social stimulation, warmth, and affective interchange (17) in order to maintain a healthy existence and to grow mentally and intellectually in order to, as I argue, experience the support of a social home. Geraldine and her husband, however, as p art of the community of thin brown girls, only offer one of the three parts of home, the physical home. Physically secure and physically comfortable, Geraldines house does not offer the emotionally supportive atmosphere of a social home or the me mories of a personal home.
122 Geraldines family dwelling, therefore, is bereft of that which makes a physical space a home. An examination of the ideal and Geraldines family reveals the effects these kinds of environments have on the poor er African Am erican families such as the Breedloves and the MacTeers and especially on their daughters, Pecola and Claudia. Reginald G. Golledge and Robert J. Stimson define community as consisting of a population with a shared moral, political, and social environment and with membership typically based on geography, race, ethnicity, or language (489). The thin brown girls fulfill this concise definition of community living in their quiet black neighborhoods where everybody is gainfully employed (82) However, M orrisons narration suggests there is much more to a community than the stilted definition Golledge and Stimson suggest A community should be responsible for support ing its members, and especially its youngest members. Margaret Delashmit discusses the im portance of the community on the psychological maturation of young girls as it offers more than mere support but  a network of extended family members to accept them, to nurture, guide, and guard them, and to help them realize their intrinsic worth and beauty (17). Toni Morrison, herself, explains community thusly: In a community of black people, one felt safe, you know, fairly happy. The real pain came even though it was progress during the movement towards integration (An Interview 50). Iris Mari on Young, likewise, notes this pain, the sad result of exclusion (what Morrison labels the disavowal in her later novel, Paradise discussed in Chapter Four of this dissertation). Young argues that although
123 community suggests unity, community would actua lly tend to suppress differences or exclude from their political groups persons with whom they do not identify (300). T he village certainly plays an integral role in the psychological, social, and spiritual growth of a female Geraldines presence in the novel then, helps the reader understand the damaging effects on individuals who are excluded from the village due to racist attitudes of black toward other blacks. Geraldine and t he thin brown girls expect other blacks to conform to the emotiona l estrangement and sanitized image depicted in the Dick and Jane primer. Pauline Breedlove has not however, the money needed to maintain the ideal image these women expect. Therefore, the thin brown girls fully reject Pauline. According to Delashmi t, as a result of this exclusion, the family does not become a part of the extended family of the neighborhood (12), thereby leaving Pauline without the supportive atmosphere of a social home. The thin brown girls are for Morrison  antitheti cal to the village culture she respects (Furman 14). As Morrison states, in Afro American culture Black women had to be real and genuine to each other, there was no one else ( qtd in Russell 45). As Amanda J. Davis notes, Morrisons work (along with Alic e Walker, Gayl Jones, Toni Cade Bambara and others writing in the 1960s and 1970s) exposes the lack of racial stability and solidarity (24) the ostensible goal of the black nationalist movement. Her novel, instead, focuses on the violence against women and the challenges violence poses to womens attempts to achieve and maintain wholeness in a society where liberation itself is often gendered (25). Yet, the thin brown girls deny their traditions and reject racial solidarity in their rejection of Pauli ne based on her hair, her clothes, her lack of makeup; they essentially place her outside their group. Paulines countrified ways, her
124 need for quietude and privacy, are not in keeping with a paradoxically impersonal yet public urban setting (Bjork 43). Morrison presents the racist attitudes within the black community as the thin brown girls direct themselves toward the white ideal, actively denying darker and poorer blacks like the Breedloves who dont measure up. Pauline, therefore, is denied the alm ost sacred sisterhood of other black women who should take her into their circle and serve as concerned family for her and later for her children (Delashmit 14). Pauline never feels the strength and supportive atmosphere of a sisterhood of women. 3 Thus the white majority culture is both a direct and indirect suppressor, withholding money, power and prestige to turn blacks against blacks, creating an inverted and aberrant community (Cormier Hamilton 118). 4 Cat Moses, discuss es the role materialism as set forth by this white majority culture plays in Paulines life: The lure of the material supplants [Paulines] memories of community, even though she can never hope to possess what she longs for (italics mine, 628). Morrison depicts Paulines attra ction to the material w hen she and her husband Cholly first move to Ohio as newlyweds Pauline tr ies to live up to the ideal image of self as set forth by the thin brown girls, hoping for nothing more than for them to cast favorable glances her way ( 118). She wears high heel shoes and desires makeup and new clothes, even though her bad foot made wearing heels difficult and she didnt care for clothes and makeup all because these were what the other women wore. And later, after the birth of her two ch ildren, Sammy and Pecola, Pauline moves the family into their second apartment, an abandoned storefront apartment where they decorate a Christmas tree and purchase furniture, attempting to make their physical home a comfortable environment. Paulines a ttempts, however, seem destined for
125 failure for the thin brown girls continue to snub Pauline, leaving her alone, lonely, without friend, and without a supportive atmosphere Erik Dussere explains the role money plays in the Breedloves downfall: Thi s lack of bourgeois sensibility is illustrated by the house the Breedloves inhabit, which is in fact not a house but an abandoned store a spectre of failed capitalism marked by poverty and anonymity (31). Sadly, even the furniture within was anything but describable, having been conceived, manufactured, shipped, and sold in various states of thoughtlessness, greed, and indifference (Dussere 35) and their brand new sofa is delivered to the Breedloves already ripped. As Jennifer Gillan argues: The sofa fu nctions as a sign of the Breedloves inability to compete in American consumer culture (291). The moving mens refusal to take back the damaged furniture also emasculates Cholly. Cholly loses the independence and freedom that comes with the autonomy of home decoration. This thereby leads Cholly to lose any possibility of creating fond memories, ultimately depriving the Breedloves of a personal home. As for the supportive atmosphere, the Breedloves might hope for in fulfilling their social home, Gillans argument suggests that there will be no supportive atmosphere, no social home: The ripped sofa is just the outward manifestation of the Breedloves all pervasive alienation from themselves, from any political or personal constituency, and fro m industrial and consumer culture (291). Money is so tight that the Breedloves are unable to afford the ideal or even the version of the ideal set forth by the thin brown girls; the Breedloves poverty leaves them excluded from the community. What u ltimately leaves Pauline to completely abandon her attempts of building a home space for her family however, is the extreme contrast she sees between her own
126 dwelling and that of the white family for whom she works, t he Fishers. In Paulines home, she saw a zinc tub, buckets of stove heated water, flaky, stiffy, grayish towels washed in a kitchen sink, dried in a dusty backyard (127). In the Fisher home, on the other hand, Pauline discovered: linen, silk draperies, stacks of white pillow slips edged with embroidery, the sheets with top hems picked out with blue cornflowersa porcelain tub with silvery taps running infinite quantities of hot, clear waterfluffy white towels and cuddly night clothes (127) Pauline saw how home, in her eyes, should be a nd loved all of it (127). Such a comparison turned any effort Pauline could make into nothing but a wasted effort, The things she could afford to buy did not last, had no beauty or style, and were absorbed by the dingy storefront. Pauline began to make the Fisher home her home, and s oon she stopped trying to keep her own house ( 127). Like the Breedloves dwelling, the MacTeers house contrasts greatly with the ideal and the ideal houses of the thin brown girls and white homes like the Fisher s The MacTeer house is not very pretty like the house in the Dick and Jane passage rather it is old, cold, and green (10). The MacTeer house is not even the comfortable, tasty, framed cottage, the desired abode for the African American family in t he early 20 th century, but rather described as follows: At night a kerosene lamp lights one large room. The others are braced in darkness, peopled by roaches and mice (10). Here Claudia offers her depiction of the MacTeer house with all its faults. While the primer passage elides much in its surface description, Claudia exposes the truth that her house is not picture perfect; there are insects and rodents and Claudias bedroom window is cracked with a rag plugging up the hole (11). Mooney argues that Morr ison:
127 rejects the consumerism and classism of the comfortable, tasty, framed cottage, but she is not able to abandon entirely the home as the font of wholeness. Her heroines are nurtured by two parents in a secure though rundown house with cracked windows In place of material comforts, Morrison imbues her domicile with affection. Her ideal house is enriched and its windows are repaired not because of the Better Homes Campaign, sociological quantification, or modern design, but because love, thick and dar k as Alaga syrup, eased up into that cracked window (65). Mooneys argument focuses nicely on the power of love to metaphorically mend the deficiencies of the MacTeer home. Yet, Claudias narration, reminiscent of the vividness with which Mary Leapors M ira exposes Crumble Hall, also expresses the importance of preserving the memory of that familial love. In fact, just as Leapors verbal creation of the fictional Crumble Hall helps her to achieve a sense of the personal, social, and physical home , so, too, Claudias inclusion of her own story, along with Pecolas, offer s her an additional outlet to attain a strong sense of home. Indeed, Claudia as Morrisons spokesperson rejects the material of the thin brown girls ideal house s as exemplifi ed in Gera l dine s home. Geraldines son, Junior, unlike Claudia, receives no nurturing from his mother Such a home provides only material comfort, a safe haven but no supportive atmosphere or fostering of independence and memories. Indeed, Junior gathers no memories of his relationship with his mother except for the difference he so readily perceives in his mothers behavior to himself and the cat (86). On the other hand, the MacTeers nurturing of their daughters help Claudia choose her family and all that her family provides as the foundation for her home. Claudias preservation of
128 her personal home her memories of the love, support, and protection as well as the passing on of traditions experienced in the MacTeer house, offers her a support ive atmosphere for a social home . This preservation work helps make up for the physical condition of the MacTeer house in providing Claudia with the safe haven of a physical home. For Clarissa, a safe haven exists despite the cracks in windows and insects throughout for instead she has a n emotionally safe haven where she can preserve her memories in a personal home. Rapists and Protectors, Silencers and Singers: Parental Influence in Home Development When the community fails to be support ive and the physical structure of ones living space fails to provide a safe and comfortable environment, then the parental figures can step in and provide their children with everything they need in feeling a full sense of home. Morrison presents t he MacTeer family fulfilling this role. In contrast, Cholly and Pauline Breedlove are dysfunctional parents depriving their daughter of a sense of home Much of the scholarship on The Bluest Eye focuses on the mothers in the novella, Pauline Breedlove esp ecially. Lacking an appropriate support system of her own, Pauline is unable to provide her children with a support system. In fact, Pauline turns away from the distorted view of the ideal held by her fellow African Americans, to an even more unattainable whiteness: the fictional fantasy world of the movies. She educates herself in the power of physical beauty as portrayed on the big screen. Only from her position as a member of the audience can Pauline achieve a sense of independence and freedom
129 of a personal home through the power of the gaze. Instead of being gazed upon, Pauline escapes into the darkness of the theater and becomes the objectifying gaze. Her behavior leads to an obsessive need to seek a model for proper behavior and physical appear ance in the white actresses who graced the big screen. She was never able, after her education in the movies, to look at a face and not assign it some category in the scale of absolute beauty, and the scale was one she absorbed in full from the silver scr een (122). Paulines identity is debilitated by learning to see white beauty as the ideal. Never would black be beautiful to her, certainly not her husband, not even her children. And although Pauline attempts to mimic the hair style of Jean Harlow, the loss of a tooth during one of her theater seminars engenders self loathing as well. Look like I just didnt care no more after that. I let my hair go back, plaited it up, and settled down to just being ugly (123). Pauline learns to think of herself as c ategorized under the have nots as opposed to the white ideal or the haves, where white is, as Yancy argues, a master sign (108) or as Rafael Perez Torres describes as a nonrace, a norm, a universal standard  not a race but an ideal (24). And in co mparison to the master sign, Pauline comes to know the truth of [herself], as a denigrated thing of absence and existential insignificance (Yancy 108). As the Breedlove children grow older, Pauline turns away from both the ideal set forth by the thin brown girls and the images in the movies, but her pleasure in materialism does not dissipate completely. Instead, motivated by poverty, Pauline discovers all she desires in the home of a wealthy white family, in her role as the ideal servant (128). In fact, Pauline supplants absence and insignificance with superiority and cleanliness as she separates her self in two. One part of her is moral
130 within a former storefront where the Breedloves reside, where she teaches her family, especially her daughter, to feel fear, a fear of growing up, fear of other people, fear of life (128). The other part of her is material ( Paulines alternate, fantasy family (35) according to Missy Dehn Kubitschek) within the Fishers house, a place of beauty, order, and cleanliness, where she teaches nothing, only indulges the Fishers daughter, yearning for the white ideal the young girl represents. Mooney describes the life of servitude experienced by many early 20 th century African Americans. According to Moone y, the comfortable tasty framed cottage was difficult for the African American to attain because most had to perform someone elses domestic labor in order to support their families (64). Likewise, in the 18 th century, the working class poet, Mary Lea por, showed how her physical work made writing difficult: with aching Limbs, / Oppressd with Head ach, and eternal Whims, / Sad Mira vows to quit the darling Crime [writing] (Crumble Hall ll. 3 5). Mooney notes that this has not changed two centuries la ter as women found domestic labor was too oppressing to be understood as noble (64). However, while Mary Leapor attained power in claiming Crumble Hall as her home through poetry, Pauline attained power through accepting her role as the Fishers servant. Ruby Dee refers to Paulines seat of power in the Fishers home as her kitchen throne (19). Unfortunately, as Andrea OReilly points out, Paulines power is, of course, not real; it is a borrowed power, accorded Pauline only in her capacity as an empl oyee of the Fishers (54). Furthermore, Dee notes that From [Paulines] kitchen throne, she comes to view the reality of her own family with disgust and almost hatred (19). I argue that while Pauline borrow s power from the Fishers, such power comes at a
131 price for it leaves her to view her family with disgust and almost hatred and to actively deny her biological family. Notice that the Fisher girl calls Pauline by an intimate nickname, Polly, 5 while her own daughter must address her in the formal, Mrs. Breedlove. Further proof of Paulines averting of the supportive atmosphere occurs in the scene where Pecola drops the cobbler on the Fishers kitchen floor. The kitchen is a space that is traditionally meant to be inviting to outsiders, a place where neighbors can enter, warm themselves by the hearth, and perhaps be offered something to eat. Here, however, Pecola is treated as an unwanted outsider, not a significant other as necessary to a social home but merely an other. Within this space Pauline plays the role of the mother in the manner of the Dick and Jane primer. The Fisher daughter walks in illuminating Paulines fantasy, looking for her surrogate mother: Wheres Polly? sounding much like the narrative voice in the primer, Mother will you p lay with Jane (3). Yet in order for this fantasy family to exist, Pauline must guard it by denying the existence of her biological daughter, directing nurturing at her surrogate daughter instead. When the little girl cries, Pauline comforts and sooths h er: Hush, baby, hush. Come here. Oh, Lord, look at your dress. Dont cry no more. Polly will change it ( 109 ). Pecola sees her mothers blatant favoritism of this child while she gets nothing more than words spit outlike rotten pieces of apple ( 109 ). M rs. Breedlove consoles this girl who is not her own, while she knocks Pecola to the floor, yanked her up by the arm, slapped her again, and in a voice thin with anger, abused Pecola directly ( 109 ). Meanwhile, Pauline screams her mantra, my floor my f loor my floor (109). The repetition of the first person possessive pronoun Pauline asserts, my floor (italics mine), shows sheer
132 desperation, as if she is praying that her fantasy world may not disappear. In these words, Pauline stresses her need to b uild a sense of independence and freedom and a comfortable environment consistent with a personal and physical home reminiscent of the creativity Leapor puts into creating Crumble Hall, making this floor, this home, and this family her own. Paulin e, as a result, leaves her biological daughter homeless, forcing Pecola into the role of outsider, motherless. Paulines maintaining of her fantasy family and fantasy deprives Pecola of the nurturing Pecola needs to feel a sense of home. As opposed to the Fishers clean, orderly, and peaceful kitchen, t he Breedlove kitchen provides the scene of their familial interaction in all of its anger, violence, and disappointment. Rather than cook in the kitchen, Cholly and Pauline can be found frequently beatin g each other with pots and pans and stove lids. For Pecola, especially, there is no comfort or nurturing like the comfort and nurture the Fishers daughter receives in her kitchen. Instead, ideally the site for nourishment and family togetherness the kitc hen, for Pecola becomes a site of terror within her own home. 6 For Morrison, there are no pure spaces, no felicity untouched by danger (Gwin 78). 7 Danger is a common topic in studies of home. From accidents within the home to break ins, no space exists in a complete state of felicity. Furthermore, researchers found that when fear regarding danger in public spaces is increased, people tend to stay home to keep safe (Goldsack 132). This, in turn, can keep many trapped within a home space that is the loca le of physical and/or emotional abuse. Morrison presents the potential home dangers through her depiction of eleven year old Pecola standing one Saturday in s pring, in the kitchen seemingly safe in her
133 refuge from the dangers outside: the vindictive J unior who killed his cat and blamed Pecola the uncaring white store owner Mr. Yacobowski who looks right through Pecola and the children at school who taunt Pecola and use her name to taunt each other Her movements in the kitchen are uninhibited by fear or discomfort: [S]he shifted her weight and stood on one foot scratching the back of her calf with her toe. It was a quiet and pitiful gesture. Her hands were going around and around a frying pan, scraping flecks of black into cold, greasy dishwater (1 62). In the ideal, home spaces offer safety, but for Pecola, there is no refuge. Instead, Pecola experiences a common plight for women in the home: the fear of public abuse [leading] to a loss and restriction of public participation and ironically, a gre ater dependency on those men they know who may be the greatest source of danger (Goldsack 132). Although Pecola engages in a simple, everyday act of housework, this peaceful routine does not sustain. As Minrose C. Gwin writes about the eventual rape of Pe cola in the familys kitchen: Cholly Breedloves rape of his daughter  is enacted against the backdrop of what in another house might have been a nurturing domestic space for eating and talking (75). 8 In addition, Cholly later interrupts his daughter in an act of innocence a second time; this time Pecola lies in a state of relaxation, reading on the living room couch when her father assaults her. Throughout the novel Pecola is  framed in various kinds of claustrophobic spaces cultural (she is a poo r black girl within white dominated patriarchal capitalism), material (her house, neither pleasant nor safe, is an empty frame of capitalism, an abandoned storefront), emotional and physical (she has been raped by her father and rejected by
134 mother and comm unity) their concentricity squeezing her tighter and tighter until finally she goes mad. (Gwin 79) Indeed, with each time her parents fight, with each time Cholly rapes her, Pecolas home space becomes increasingly claustrophobic increasing a need within her to achieve home outside of the traditional home space. Following the initial rape in the kitchen, Pauline further distances herself from her daughter and her role as a mother and provider of home. When Pecola awakens following the rape she sees the face of her mother looming over her (163). Looming suggests the tension between Pauline and her daughter and the sheer hatred Pauline has for the young girl as well as an utter lack of nurturing. Furthermore, when Pecola tells her mother what happens, P auline does not believe Pecola (200). Paulines distrust of her daughter amplifies the incident further, making the kitchen and their home space in general ever more dangerous for Pecola, for not only must Pecola fear her fathers incestual desire but she must also fear her mothers negative reaction to the rape. Paulines reaction lacks compassion or support. Pauline silences her Pecola, denies her a voice, and ensures that Pecola never know the independence that language could offer Pecola in naming her experience. Pauline deprives Pecola the healing power of narrating her experience, and accepting the rape into her memories so that she might move on toward healing with Paulines support, of course. Paulines help never comes, however; she denies her d aughter the supportive atmosphere Pecola needs in building a social home. Lucille Fultz blames Pauline for  the destruction of her family by her failure to assume partial responsibility and accountability for her dysfunctional marriage and
135 socially maladjusted children (55). From the moment of Pecolas birth, Pauline looks at her daughter with disappointment, head full of pretty hair, but Lord she was ugly (126). Immediately Pauline withdraws her supportive atmosphere. As various psychologists attest, the mothers gaze is of primary importance in generating a childs sense of self. Tragically, Pauline looks at her infant daughter and then looks away (Miner 18). Paulines averted gaze falls on the ideal child, the Fishers daughter, in a mann er that Malin LaVon Walther considers distinctly different from the gaze of man in objectifying woman sexually. According to Walther: Women look at other women to determine social status and to make comparisons to themselves, which is an objectifying act (779). Pauline, then, goes from objectifying those big screen white actresses as something she wants to be to objectifying the Fishers as the model home to which she wants to belong. This averted gaze creates a supportive atmosphere for the Fishers so cial home but denies Pecola the like. OReilly argues that Pauline further disconnected herself from her daughter and from the motherline the ancestral memory and ancient properties of traditional black culture also known as the funk (47) by nur turing her surrogate daughter, the Fisher girl, and not her own. According to OReilly, the motherline which stresses the importance of the maternal line and nurturing therein would have grounded [Pauline] in the values of her people and enabled her to resist interpellation ( 52) meanwhile teaching her children strategies for survival (125). Paulines separation from the funk in favor of the white ideal teaches Pecola to hate her self and thereby hate her ancestral memory, ancient properties, a nd the funk traits consistent with the memories she needs to construct a personal home.
136 In contrast to the Breedlove parents, The MacTeers are, as Allen Alexander calls them:  adult role models who place more value on action than image (301). Although Mr. MacTeer does not appear as often as his wife or daughters in this novel, his presence as an active adult role model is strong and his role is of great importance. Whereas Cholly Breedlove does nothing to protect his daughter (indeed he is he r predator), Mr. MacTeer fulfills the role of the father in family dynamics and fulfills his responsibilities toward his family. Claudia opens her description with My daddys face is a study (61). Claudia uses Wolf killer, hawk fighter, and Vulcan to express her fathers strength There is intimacy here as Claudia refers to her father as daddy, but this is a tempered intimacy as Mr. MacTeer does not spoil his girls but teaches them survival skills, teaches them how to rake, feed, and bank the fi re (61). Unlike Cholly who cant hold a job as much as he can hold his liquor, Mr. MacTeer fosters a strong work ethic in his daughter. His greatest role however is the way he protects his daughters: night and day to keep [the wolf] from the door and t he [hawk] from under the windowsills all while guarding the flames (61). The novel shows Mr. MacTeer at his strongest, however, in the manner with which he handles Mr. Henrys molestation of Frieda. He does not fault his daughter, does not refuse to be lieve her, but instead takes immediate action against Mr. Henry. Daddy beat him up, Frieda says (99), and he threw our old tricycle at his head and knocked him off the porch and then shot at him (100). No father can prevent all bad things from happen ing to his daughters, but Mr. MacTeer does everything he can to make sure his daughter will not continue to be abused. Morrison models Mr. MacTeer after her own father who threw a tricycle at a man who followed Morrison and her sister. Morrison describes t his incident
137 as follows: My father was not a tall man and this man loomed large. All he knew was that this man was behind his girls, and he was, you know, defending the household and all of that (An Interview 50). Mr. MacTeer, like Morrisons father be fore him, offers his daughters the safest haven in his power. In stark contrast to the lack of parenting skills seen in the Breedloves, the MacTeers bring up their children so as to develop a personal, social, and physical home. Phyllis R. Klotman a pplauds Morrisons depiction of The MacTeer familys role in the novel as possessing the inner strength to withstand poverty and discrimination of a racist society and to provide an environment in which their children can grow (124). While Claudia feels ignored by the adults, 9 she points out various instances where Mrs. MacTeer solidly provides for the health and well being of her daughters. Mrs. MacTeer shows her daughters what it means to be a part of a community, part of a supportive atmosphere and a social home. Even though Mrs. MacTeer complains about having to care for Pecola when Pecolas own parents fail to do so, the fact is she does take in Pecola, feeds her, offers her a place to sleep and has some concern for Pecolas plight  since she tells Claudia and Frieda to be nice to her and not fight (17) (Fultz 57 8). Most importantly, Mrs. MacTeer welcomes Pecola into womanhood when Pecola has her first menses. And although too late to save Pecola, Mrs. MacTeers example results in her daug hters learning the value of friendship as they befriend Pecola, trying hard to keep her from feeling outdoors (19) as well as protecting her from bullies after school. They learned the power of the community to provide emotionally impoverished individua ls a supportive atmosphere.
138 Although Mrs. MacTeer teaches her daughters v aluable lessons through example a number of critics suggest that Mrs. MacTeer can not be categorized as a good mother. Michael Ryan argues: The coldness of Claudias world is a lso a metaphor for parent/child relations that barely nurture or provide sustenance (45). The Oxford English Dictionary defines nurture as to care for and encourage the growth or devel opment of; to foster, cultivate (def. 1b). And sustenance: Means of living or subsistence (def. 1) and The action of sustaining life by food (def. 3). Mrs. MacTeer offers her daughters a comfortable environment of a physical home, leaving them crackers upon their return from school. Mrs. MacTeer shows her daught ers Christian charity and a supportive atmosphere of a social home when she takes Pecola in and cares for her. And Mrs. MacTeer provides a safe haven of a physical home for Claudia when Claudia falls ill. It is, however, Mrs. MacTeers interaction with Claudia during Claudias illness that critics see as exemplifying poor mothering skills. I argue, however, that this scene shows Mrs. MacTeer offering her daughters a strong sense of home in all its tenets. Jerome Bump describes Mrs. MacTeers tending to Claudia as a phase of the family dance, the love but notes that The better label for the McTeers [sic] might be competent but pained family (156). Ryan says: [the MacTeers] cannot provide the care and attention that children need and that Clau dias falling out of consciousness is evidence of trauma due to the failure of parental care (46). While Pecola feels no love from her mother and father, Mrs. MacTeer offers her daughter love through her actions: rubbing Claudias chest with salve, wra pping Claudia in flannel and quilts, and cleaning Claudia up after she vomits. Even though Mrs. MacTeer complains the entire time, a grown Claudia looking back recognizes her mothers anger as directed at Claudias
139 sickness rather than at Claudia. The memo ry of Mrs. MacTeers healing actions impacts the adult Claudia as she recalls her mothers hands on her forehead: So when I think of autumn, I think of somebody with hands who does not want me to die (12). Through these actions, Mrs. MacTeer qualifies as a nurturer, a provider of sustenance. As for Ryans claim that Claudias lapse into unconsciousness was due to failure of parental care, the more likely reason would be due to her high fever. Further criticism against Mrs. MacTeers actions come from Michael Awkward who devalues Mrs. MacTeers mothering, arguing that only when her actions are reinterpreted by the adult Claudia can they be seen as good mothering. OReilly argues against this claim, saying: [F]rom the perspective of Morrisons the ory of motherwork and her emphasis upon the importance of preservation, the droning voice and scratchy towel are to be seen as real and legitimate gestures of maternal love. [Awkward] relies on Claudias perspective because he measures Mrs. MacTeers moth ering against the dominant discourse of good mothering (121). In addition to Mrs. MacTeers good mothering, her greatest lesson lies in the memories that she passes along to her daughter, memories that make up a personal home. If my mother was in a singing mood, it wasnt so bad. She would sing about hard times, bad times, and somebody done gone and left me times. But her voice was so sweet and her singing eyes so melty I found myself longing for those hard times, yearning to be grown without a thin di i ime to my name.  Misery colored by the greens and blues in my
140 mothers voice took all of the grief out of the words and left me with a conviction that pain was not only endurable, it was sweet. (25 6) Mrs. MacTeer exhibits the funk in si nging the blues while Pauline distances herself from the funk, favoring the white ideal over her ancestry and African American traditions. Mrs. MacTeer teaches her daughters the power of the voice and the power of words in narrating their story through her singing of the blues. Indeed, singing has been a strategy for survival used by African Americans from the days of slavery. This tradition can be compared to Clarissa Harlowes need to communicate with family and friends through letters and Mary Leapor s need to write poetry; each character seeks their supportive atmosphere of a social home to provide her with the strength and confidence, the independence and freedom to voice her pain through the creative word. Pecola, in contrast, has no means to voice her own pain. Her parents offer her no psychological survival techniques, no coping mechanism. She has no outlet for the shame she feels and therefore no means by which to construct a home. Claudia, on the other hand, learns that singing proves an act of resistance and a way to re possess ones experience (Dittmar 151). Psychotic Breakdown versus Narration: Voicing a Home of Ones Own According to Benjamin, a child needs s ocial stimulation, warmth, and affective interchange in order to maint ain a healthy existence and to grow mentally and intellectually (17) The social stimulation would show a child the meaning of a supportive atmosphere and a friendly neighbourhood for her social home and the
141 safe haven of her physical home. Hea lthy mental and intellectual growth would then lead to a se nse of independence and freedom for her personal home, fulfilling each of Kenyons three categories of home. Pecolas feelings of inadequacy and her inability to survive in a white mans socie ty built on white mans images of beauty is a product of both her parents and her communitys treatment of her. Various assaults on Pecola by members of her community her fathers physical abuse, the rape, and her mothers mental abuse, the bestow ing of good mothering on a blonde haired white girl all reinforce Pecolas self hatred Pecola feel s she is not pretty enough, not white enough, and therefore, not loveable enough for her mother or society resulting in her develop ing a sense of shame rather th an a sense of self esteem or self identity. According to Robert Karen, in his article Shame, a turning away from the child or a shunning by the mother can be extremely harmful. 10 Many parents, because of their own unresolved anger, bitterness, or un met needs, are unable to accept the child for who he or she is. They may want a child whos prettier, bouncier, smarter, more aggressive, more compliant, more charming (43). Karens analysis explains Pecolas shame. Mrs. Breedlove passes her own shame and guilt on to Pecola, commencing a life of self doubt, embarrassment, and shame for the young girl, instead of self love, confidence, and pride. Pecola is unable to grow mentally or intellectually and, in turn, unable to create a healthy social home based on support and love. Referring to Pecola in relation to Claudia and Frieda, Doreatha Drummond Mbalia concludes: It is she who is most affected by the dominant cultures beauty standards because it is she who is the poorest and, consequently, the most vu lnerable (32). With Mrs. Breedloves shame and without familial support to protect her, Pecola is
142 the most vulnerable, and her chances of functioning in society are greatly decreased. Members of Pecolas community refuse to offer Pecola a supportive at mosphere : her teachers pretend she is not in class, trying never to glance at her ; her class mates use her name as an insult chanting: Bobby loves Pecola Breed love!( 46 ) ; and at the grocery store, the white owner Mr. Yacobowski, treats her to a glan ce that is vacuum filled with a total absence of human recognition ( 48 ). Pecola blames this treatment on her skin color with a focus on the color of her eyes as symbolic of everything that she feels is wrong with her, her inadequacies, her shame. Disa ppointed in her self and her inability to measure up to her idea of beauty, Pecola tries to make herself disappear However, her eyes always remain, leaving her with the desire to have blue eyes; blue eyes will not need to disappear, for they would make he r beautiful, something worth noticing, someone to be loved. Pecolas inability to make her eyes disappear combined with her desire to have blue eyes leads to her eventual psychological breakdown Soaphead Church, a former preacher and a Reader, Adviser, a nd Interpreter of Dreams ( 165 ) drives Pecola further into madness Pecola seeks out Church in response to his business card which reads : If you are overcome with trouble and conditions that are not natural, I can remove them; Overcome Spells, Bad Luck, and Evil Influences. Remember, I am a true Spiritualist and Psychic Reader, born with power, and I will help you. Satisfaction in one visitIf you are unhappy, discouraged, or in distress, I can help you ( 173 ) Church wants to help Pecola, who comes to hi m asking for blue eyes, but his actions are not completely selfless; he gets her to unknowingly kill his landlords dog making it seem as if it is Gods will : If the animal behaves strangely, your wish will be granted on the day
143 following this one ( 175 ). Essentially, Church uses Pecolas innocence and strong desire for beauty to his advantage. Pecola comes to Church because he is a former preacher and therefore a representative of God, the ultimate authority figure. Even his card says he is a true Spirit ualistborn with power. Churchs self pro claimed credentials, together with the dogs sudden death, and Pecolas overwhelming desire to have blue eyes are enough to confirm Pecolas delusions, enough to make her believe her eyes could change to blue. A number of critics focus on Pecolas state of madness, diverging over whether Pecola actively goes mad or passively becomes mad. 1 1 However, I find Pecolas achievement through madness of greater interest: Pecola realizes a voice to narrate her experience, a voice to create a home of her own. According to gnes Surnyi, Ironically, having been denied a sense of self and a voice to articulate her pain, in the end an insane Pecola has found not one, but two voices (15). Pecola s two voices converse with each other : Youre just jealous. I am not. You are. You wish you had them. Ha. What would I look like with blue eyes ? Nothing much. (194) Jane Caputi argues that here Pecola peers into her mirror, demanding that her friend  confirm what s he sees a white girl; that is, a girl with blue eyes (713 14). One part of Pecola recognizes the foolishness of having blue eyes, signifying Pecolas inability to accept the reality of her situation she could never have blue eyes. This
144 dissonance betwee n reality and intense desire is what leads to her personalities splitting off into the rational and the irrational. Yet, having two personalities enables Pecola to have what she has always wanted, to be white and to have blue eyes. Furthermore, it also giv es Pecola the family she had never had, a sister who will love her and recognize her in her new state of blue eyed being the supportive atmosphere of a social home. As the narrator says, shestepped over into madness, a madness which protected her fr om us ( 206 ) Jan Furman writes further on this madness which protects: With the blue eyes of her distorted reality comes the awful safety of oblivion (19) Indeed, her madness protect s her from her family, from the grocer, from her teachers and the k ids at school, from society as a whole offering her within the safety of oblivion a safe haven of a physical home. Claudias desires lead her to a sense of home as well, but her ideal home is based not on psychological trauma but on familial suppor t and guidance. One Christmas, Claudia receives a big blue eyed Baby Doll. Instead of family interaction and the touching, playing, and ritual storytelling that might accompany it Claudia is supposed to pretend to be the mother of this thing dressed i n starched gauze or lace and sporting a bone cold head (Kuenz 20). Claudia, however, rejects this gift and the ideal which this doll represents through dismembering the doll. Instead of shame for her difference from the ideal as Pecola felt and i nstead of displacing their self hatred on blacks of darker color as Geraldine does Claudia gives expression to the anger experienced by the shamed individual, the desire to flair out that signals an attempt to rid the self of shame (Bouson 30). Instead, Claudia creates an alternative to the ideal home, like Pecola, in her mind as she conjures up the perfect Christmas. While both girls rely on their
145 imaginations to construct images of home, Claudia rejects physical appearance based on the ideal in fav or of an emotional connection to her family. Claudia says: I wanted rather to feel something on Christmas day (22). The kitchen looms large in Claudias dream of home, the heart that breathes life into her ancestral connections, for she nostalgically dre ams of family togetherness, I want to sit on the low stool in Big Mamas kitchen with my lap full of lilacs and listen to Big Papa play his violin for me alone. The lowness of the stool made for my body, the security and warmth of Big Mamas kitchen, the smell of the lilacs, the sound of the music, and, since it would be good to have all of my senses engaged, the taste of a peach, perhaps, afterward. (22) Claudia possesses a love of self and family so that her desires are not based on any material item but rather on family togetherness as evidenced by the presence of her grandfather. In her grandmothers kitchen Claudia experiences Kenyons three categories of home. W ith all of her senses actively engaged, Claudia constructs memories for her personal ho me. Having Big Mama and Big Papa there ensures a supportive atmosphere for her social home. A nd the security and warmth of Big Mamas kitchen enable Claudia to feel the safe haven of a physical home. Claudias imagination, thoughts and narration help Claudia to fight against the self hatred and shame that plagues her rage, allowing her, in turn, to feel a sense of personal, social, and physical home. Based on an interview with Toni Morrison Sandi Russel describes Morrisons relationshi p to the tribe: For her, roots are less a matter of geography than a sense of
146 shared history; less to do with place, than with inner space: the freedom to be oneself, and yet a member of the tribe. So she identifies her art as a novelist with the ancest ral tradition that is still alive in black music and religion (44), a statement that shows Morrisons values depicted in Claudias own. At the end of the novel, Claudia and Frieda hear their tribe, the women in the communit y, reject one of their members, Pecola Breedlove. Regarding the pregnant Pecola, the women exclaim: The girl was always foolish, she carry some of the blame, and How come she didnt fight him? Yet the biggest rejection was in their claiming, Dont nobody know nothing about them an ywayDont seem to have no people (189). These women are unable to see how the Breedloves lack of people was largely their own fault as members of their community, they should have gotten to know the Breedloves; they should have been the Breedloves people. Feeling guilty for their peoples treatment of Pecola, Claudia and Frieda sacrifice the money they had worked hard for selling seeds, giving up, in turn, the bicycle that was to be their ultimate reward, and planting the seeds from the sale all as an offering to God in exchange for Pecolas babys life Claudia says, All right. Only let me sing this time. You say the magic words (192). Mrs. MacTeer has passed down her singing of the blues to her daughter, and Claudia calls upon that inheritance memori es of her ancestral tradition, hoping to salvage the lives of Pecola and her baby protecting them within a safe haven of the girls providing, and offer ing them the supportive atmosphere that the community had so vehemently denied them Wh ile Pecola ends up searching the garbage, discarded and reviled just as Cholly was, [inheriting] this legacy of disinheritance (Earle 32), Claudia ends up singing
147 Pecolas blues, but she sings in her own way, through her narrative storytelling. Claudia c reates a strong sense of home much as Clarissa created part of her home and Mary Leapor built her home through words, through writing, through storytelling. Pecola was silenced by her mother, ignored by various members of her community, and then became the center of neighborhood gossip However, Claudia gives Pecola a voice, offers Pecola the chance to have her story told and, according to Moses, Claudia is the voice for the communitys blues (634). Furthermore, Claudia creates memories in structuring h er personal home. However, these memories are not typical nostalgic memories of good times gone by, but the exposing of the traumas that she had witnessed: We remembered Mrs. Breedlove knocking Pecola down and soothing the pink tears of the frozen doll baby that sounded like the door of our icebox. We remembered the knuckled eyes of schoolchildren under the gaze of Meringue Pie and the eyes of these same children when they looked at Pecola. Or maybe we didnt remember; we just knew (191). The repetition of we remembered suggests the power of memory in storytelling and thusly home building. A number of critics call The Bluest Eye a tragedy. Madonne M. Miner, however, argues: But I cannot read The Bluest Eye as a tragedy, writes Miner. Claudia, our sometimes narrator, speaks, as does Morrison, our full time novelist (20). Morrison, herself, gives voice to common traumas existent in the African American community. Her first novel testifies to the desires of a girl she once knew who, like Pecola, voi ced her own desire to have blue eyes. Writing this novel was for Morrison, as with Claudia, therapy during a time of struggle in her own life when, as she says, I was in a place where there was nobody I could talk to and have real conversations with. And I think I
148 was also very unhappy. So I wrote then, for that reason (The Seams 56). Morrison, like her narrator, builds a home in her writing, escaping to a place where she and her characters can find freedom and memories, a supportive atmosphere an d neighbors, and a comfortable environment and a safe haven. Gaston Bachelard offers an optimistic analysis of the relationship between poet and reader: There is no need to have lived through the poets sufferings in order to seize the felicity of s peech offered by the poet a felicity that dominates tragedy itself. Sublimation in poetry towers above the psychology of the mundane unhappy soul. For it is a fact that poetry possesses a felicity of its own, however great the tragedy it may be called upon to illustrate (xxx). Thus, Morrisons narrative poetry shows us, her reader, the way to strengthen our own identities, struggle against the ideal, and most important, find the felicity necessary to create a home of our own.  For some daughters, ho me may be grounded not in place but in the re placement of the displaced self elsewhere, in an aptitude for travel. What such writing as this and the type of readerly travel it demands can do is to point to that other space, that elsewhere, in which the d aughter can begin to write her own cultural story, create her own felicity. (Gwin 115) Claudias physical, personal, and social home is a home with which she travels. As long as she has stories to tell, truths to relate, and a voice with which to nar rate them, she will have her home. Pecola, on the other hand, never learns her cultural story, only the fictional white ideal. Therefore, while Pecolas voice only comes in madness where she mirrors that white ideal, Claudia finds a means of expressi ng herself in a voice built on
149 her experiences, her culture, her ancestry. The act of creating, in Claudias case of writing, is therapeutic for Claudia, In [Claudias] journal, eventually read by others, she unburdens herself of the family secrets, one o f the primary therapies in family systems as in other therapies. Unburdening herself in a similar fashion, becoming the narrator of her own life, Claudia escapes (and shows us how to escape Pecolas fate) (Bump 163). Creating her own felicity and becom ing the narrator of her own life does more than save Claudia from the fate which Pecola meets, it allows her to create a home of her own.
150 Notes 1. For instance, when the Dutch settled in New York, they created warmth (both literal and figurative) and t ogetherness with the fireplace as the catalyst to such feelings. Dutch fireplaces were really open hearths with a firehood, located against a wall. The mantles projected so far into the room, five or six feet being frequent, that it was easy for people to gather virtually around the fire ( Crowley John 95) Of course the fire was essential to keeping the residents warm in the cold of winter, but it also brought family and friends to a centralized location encouraging communication and a sense of unity. 2 In the introduction to this dissertation, I present Liz Ke nyons four categories of home, Temporal, Personal, Social, and Physical, as central to the development of a complete emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical sense of home. All ref erences to these categories and the values found therein (independence and freedom; memories; supportive atmosphere; friendly neighbourhood; a comfortable environment; and a safe haven) are drawn from Kenyons study, A Home from Home: Students Transitional Experience of Home. 3. In The Bluest Eye, Morrison only offers such a sisterhood with the community of women who attended Chollys Aunt Jimmys funeral and with the three prostitutes who live above the Breedloves in the store front. Morriso n visits the sisterhood theme in her later novel, Paradise (discussed in chapter four), as she focuses on how women can come together to achieve the independence of a personal home, the supportive atmosphere of a social home, and the safe haven o f a physical home.
151 4. Articles by Terry Otten and Andrea OReilly focus on the importance of the home work with which one needs to engage, especially preserving the traditions, tribal lore and culture. In the classroom, Ottens students discuss Morriso ns use of conflict within her novels: conflict between the tribe and new urban values, the traditional subversion of the white dominant culture by the Afro American community, the loss of the village, and the writers job of preserving the lore of the vi llage (95). OReilly takes up the conversation of the tribe focusing on the women and home work. She argues: Securing food and shelter, struggling to build and sustain safe neighborhoods, is what defines both the meaning and experience of black women s motherwork and motherlove (119). 5. A number of scholars examine Paulines attraction to every aspect of the Fishers life: their house, their nuclear family, her role as surrogate mother, and especially the manner in which they treat her. This treatm ent culminates in the intimate expression of renaming Pauline, giving her the nickname, Polly. Trudier Harris explores the role nicknames play in African American communities as they bestow recognition upon an individual for a feat accomplished, a trait e mphasized, or a characteristic noticed (72). In Paulines case, the Fishers claim the unclaimed Pauline. Missy Dehn Kubitschek focuses on the lack of emotional intimacy between mother and daughter, writing: Pecola has been trained to call Pauline by a name that does not make emotional claims. To her daughter, Pauline is not Mother but Mrs. Breedlove (35). Harris furthers this argument, pointing out the detrimental effects of the distancing Pauline effects between herself and her daughter, for she cannot offer her daughter the kind of intimacy Pauline, herself, receives from the Fishers. Pecolas formal name, says Harris, reminiscent of movies and books, suggests distance rather than claiming (72). Samuels and Weems point out that Pecola
152 does re ceive a nickname, however, but from outside of her family, from her own surrogate mothers, the deviant prostitutes who live upstairs from the Breedloves. Maries names for Pecola Chittlin, Puddin, Chicken, and Honey further signify her tenderness toward the child; her epithets were fond ones chosen from menus and dishes that were forever uppermost in her mind (44) (np). 6. Although I am focusing on the kitchens of two young girls, another interesting comparison could be made between the Breedlove fam ily kitchen and the kitchen upstairs where the prostitutes live and where Pecola seeks attention. Wilfred Samuels and Clenora Hudson Weems contrast the two in great detail: Although they, like the Breedloves, live in a storefront, they live above the squa lor. Downstairs, Pecola suffocates in a home of displaced and fragmented lives. Upstairs, she finds sanctuary amidst the aroma of Miss Maries kitchen, the gut level laughter of the women, and Polands blues song, sung in a voice that is sweet and hard, l ike new strawberries (43). Paradoxically, it is the only place Pecola can find genuine love. Unlike Mrs. Breedlove, who both ignores Pecola and shows preference for her little white charge, Miss Marie takes almost maternal interest in the exiled child. Sh e greets her, Hi, dumplin. Where your socks? (np) Such a comparison shows that although Pecola had the three categories of home in her life through various surrogate families (the prostitutes and the MacTeers): Pecola had the memories of a personal h ome in Polands singing the blues; the supportive atmosphere of a social home in Miss Maries worrying over Pecola going barefoot; and a comfortable environment amongst the aroma of Miss Maries kitchen and the
153 easy going laughter of women enjoyin g life and one another. Sadly, although all of this could have provided a solid foundation, her psyche was too terribly damaged by her own parents to proceed toward a healthy creation of a home of her own. 7 One might argue that Gwins statement contradic ts my description of the MacTeer home as a safe place. I do not wish to elide the danger that exists in the MacTeer house. Indeed, Frieda is molested by the familys boarder, Mr. Henry, within her own home. Instead, I argue that the manner with which dan ger is handled within the home sets the danger encountered in the MacTeer home apart from that in the Breedlove home. As I discuss later in this chapter, u nlike Pauline Breedlove who accuses her daughter of lying about the rape, Mr. MacTeer never questions his daughter. Instead he reacts swiftly, protecting his daughter beating up Mr. Henry when he learns of what the man has done to her Within the MacTeer home, dangers are not caused by the parents as they are in the Breedlove home, they are, instead, rec tified the home returned to a safe haven 8 Kathryn Earle offers an interesting approach to the teaching of this scene which allows students to approach Chollys actions outside of the violent context of rape and incest: [The students] need to see th at the rape is motivated not by a perverse desire to destroy his daughter but by sweet memories of Pauline and Pecolas fragility that is, by love, no matter how disturbed. In fact, the actual rape reads more like a love scene . Someone reading this pas sage out of context would interpret the scene completely erroneously. I have found it useful to show the students excerpts before they read the novel to see if they can tell what is going on. The near impossibility of the
154 assignment makes them realize in l ater discussions that the situation is not straightforw ard as they might want it to be. (31) 9 Ruth Rosenberg explains that which Claudia perceives as her parents ignoring her. Again, rather than spoil their children, the MacTeers set up boundaries for th eir girls. Thus, A new boarders arrival in the MacTeer household provides another occasion to instruct the children about their place. Their status, it is impressed upon them, is a little lower than that of the furniture: Frieda and I were not introduce d to him merely pointed out. Like, here is the bathroom; the clothes closet is here; and these are my kids (437). 10 Society has certainly oppressed Cholly Breedlove, helping to explain the cyclical nature of the abuse he bestows upon his daughter: his mother abandoned him in a trash heap when he was just four days old, three white men with guns forced a young Cholly to finish having sex with a young girl, and his estranged father rejected him upon meeting him. In this dissertation, however, I focus mor e on the role of mothering as in tegral to the spiritual, intellectual, and social growth of daughters. 11. Various scholars use the active verb in explaining Pecolas eventual madness, giving Pecola more autonomy in bringing about her madness. Pecola ente rs a kind of prison (emphasis mine, Byerman 450), denies her pregnancy in madness (emphasis mine, Fick and Gold 59), substitutes her inchoate reality with a better one (emphasis mine, Furman 19),  creates a friend out of her imagination (emphasis mine, Cormier Hamilton 122), and accepts as her destiny the destruction of her true being in favor of an insanity induced self image that validates in her mind the inherent inferiority of her heritage (emphasis mine, Alexander 299).
155 Other critics use passive verbs blaming outside forces for Pecolas breakdown. For instance Malin Walther Pereira who argues that the effects of colonization are responsible for Pecolas madness: We can say of The Bluest Eye that signs of white beauty throughout the cultur e were internalized by the black community. We can say that, according to the discourse of signs, Pecola was rendered invisible. We can even say that the sign system of beauty (along with the rape by her father) drove her mad (77). Finally, there are oth er critics who are ambivalent about whether Pecola brings about her own madness or is made mad. Patrick Bryce Bjork uses active verbs in describing what he sees as a passive act, first fully blaming Cholly for Pecolas ultimate breakdown, relieving Pecola of any autonomy. Cholly  drives her into madness, and in so doing, frees Pecola from any further need for defense (49). However, while Bjork maintains the passive in describing Pecola imprisoned now behind her illusion of blue eyes, he follows with more active verbs, Pecola escapes into schizophrenia and silence (emphasis mine, 53) and  Pecola in her madness, has triumphed over her condition (emphasis mine, 54).
156 Chapter Four The Rapture of Holy Women Dancing in Hot Sweet Rain: A Space fo r Spiritual Enlightenment at Home in Toni Morrisons Paradise [C] ant you even imagine what it must feel like to have a true home? I dont mean heaven. I mean a real earthly home. Not some fortress you bought and built up and have to keep everybody lock ed in our out. A real home. Not some place you went to and invaded and slaughtered people to get. Not some place you claimed, snatched because you got the guns. Not some place you stole from the people l iving there, but your own home right there where you know your own people were born and lived and died... Richard Misner (Morrison, Paradise 213). In Paradise, Toni Morrison introduces us to an eclectic combination of multiple perspectives used to tell a single story about the clash of two dwellings. In Ruby, Oklahoma residents experience a supportive atmosphere and friendly neighborhood However, in Ruby, residency is exclusively for th e descendents of the Disallowing a historical moment where the towns forefathers were rejected by African Americ ans of lighter skin. The townspeople build Ruby for families to feel welcome, to be considered family, and to call Ruby home but only if they are the direct descendents with the necessary birth right, eight rock blood. Much scholarship on Paradise focuses on the overwhelming existence of exclusion in Ruby as well as the patriarchal power structure
157 ( Krumholz; Michael; Friedman, Ellen G; Dalsgard; Jones; Kim; Tally, Reality and Discourse; Knapper; Schreiber). 1 The male authority figures in R uby oppress, de n y harm, and even murder to keep out those who are different. Magali Cornier Michael speaks of the patriarchal power structure as power over that is Ruby in its power over everyone, especially their women and the younger generations. Th e gendered, u nbalanced power of Ruby is juxtaposed with a power with that is the magic uncovered and shared by those who seek comfort and healing at Morrisons second dwelling, a place just outside of Ruby called the Convent. The Convent, unlike the exclusionary tact ics of Ruby, is founded on inclusion. All are welcomed, although only traumatized women choose to reside therein. The Convent consists of a group of women from various walks of life, social class, and familial backgrounds held together by only one similari ty: their varying but common experiences of oppression at the hands of patriarchal society. Ellen G. Friedman argues that the novel is Morrisons postpatriarchal beyond, and the Convent exemplifies a place where women contest, challenge, [and] destabili ze Oedipal assumptions and power, thus providing opportunities for alternatives (707). In recent years, critics have begun to focus more on these alternatives, especially the alternative spirituality Morrison envisions in Paradise. Sharon Jessee lists as such alternatives present in the novel: slave religion and African American Christian traditions hush harbor spirituality, African American identifications with both Old and New Testament narratives, contestations between African American Protestant chu rches, the black church and black and womanist theologies [as
158 well as the focus of her article,] heretical Gnostic texts from the second and third centuries (130) Jacqueline Fulmer focuses on the presence of the Virgin [Mary] in many hues both within history and the novel (146) 2 while adding African and Afro Brazilian traditions as well as goddess worship to the growing list of religions from which Morrison draws. While I agree with the presence of multiple spiritualities within the novel, my study f ocuses on various traditions of goddess worship consistent with feminist spirituality. While patriarchal power and exclusion (also called American exceptionalism and separatism ) motivate the Convent women to travel away from their various points of origin, feminist spirituality help s them to transform themselves into a supportive unit and a family. Their abode becomes what anthropologist Liz Kenyon offers as the categories of home: s ocial, p hysical and p ersonal (87). 3 By tracing Mavis Albrights journ ey from her traditional home and family to the Convent and the healing she finds at the Convent via Connies spiritual practices, I will show how womens home spaces based on an ideal set forth by the ruling class may not offer an adequate sense of home. T herefore, travel becomes necessary for appreciat ing the essence of home. In addition, individuals often need to build unconventional alternatives to traditional home spaces. Finally, I will analyze the spirituality of the healing process as the Convent wom en draw from the practices of feminist spirituality in building their own home, rewriting their histories, creating their own stories, and finding spirituality in their physical home.
159 Living the American Dream: The Inequality of the Traditional Home In the 1950s and 1960s, individuals used the term cereal box to reference home as a space for a white family where the husbands role was breadwinner, the wifes role homemaker (Chapman, Gender 3). Sociologist Tony Chapman, however, points out the shor tcoming of scholars studying the cereal box home, for they assumed these family dynamics to be egalitarian, eliding the possibility of any member being repressed (read woman): until the 1970s, government statisticians and social scientists rarely dre w on the idea of gender divisions or differences when studying households and families because it was assumed that the nuclear family was a cohesive and harmonious social unit (3). He goes on to say that while men could find contentment in family as respi te from work, Women, on the other hand, were expected to find a kind of contentment by supporting their husbands and children while denying their own interests (207). Such assumptions amounted to the exclusion of women within the metaphorical haven of th e home sphere. Morrison clearly depicts this gender division in the home with Mavis Albright. Although we dont know Maviss race for certain she possesses all the requirements of this cookie cutter home in theory : a husband, children, and a house of her own D espite the allegorical suggestion of her last name, things are not at all bright for this wife and mother within her lower class home. Her abusive husband, Frank, drinks heavily and spends money unwisely on a flashy mint green Cadillac rather tha n providing necessities to make the home comfortable for his family: not buying a lawnmower, not installing screens in the windows of their paint flak ing house, not b uying a working TV (28). He
160 oppresses his wife, finding ways to prevent [his wifes] acqu aintance from becoming friendship (27) denying her the chance to experience a supportive atmosphere and a friendly neighborhood. Furthermore, Mavis body and spir it are dominated by her husband, for i n the bedroom, Mavis exists as a life size Ragged y Ann (26) for her husbands sexual pleasure. Morrison expresses Franks controlling behavior and explosive temper indirectly through Maviss careful decision making and frequent seeking of her husbands approval so as not to incur his wrath So as not to anger her husband, Mavis diligently prepares the perfect meat loaf (not too loose, not too tight) (25), runs to the store when her husband comes home unexpectedly for supper because Spam aint nothing for a working man to eat (24), and takes their twins to the grocery to buy weenies, locking the infants in the Cadillac while she runs inside. Questioned as to why she brought the babies on her errand, Mavis responds: You cant expect a man to come home from that kind of work and have to watch over babies while I go get something decent to put in front of him. I know that aint right (23). As S.J. Kleinberg notes: Women were to provide a refuge from the outside world where men could rest and relax from their daily toil (144). In providing said ref uge for her husband and curbing his temper Mavis feels the need to hurry, hurrying that comes at the expense of rational thought processes and leads her to abandon her children on a hot day, in a locked car, windows up. There is no room and no time left f or her to consider the health of her children, the possibility of their suffocating in a hot car when her husbands needs must be met Maviss relationship with Frank is definitely not egalitarian, and furthermore, her role as mother holds no satisfaction for her either. At the dinner table, Morrison depicts a
161 disrespectful family where Bill James spit Kool Aid into Mavis plate (25), and Sal played with a razor blade that Mavis believed would be used on her later. Furthermore, as her daughters siniste r play with the razor blade suggests, Mavis feels terrorized by her older children She even suffers physical abuse at her daughters hand During an interview with the local newspaper about the death of her babies, Sal pinches her mothers side: the pin ch grew long, pointed. Sals fingernails were diving for blood (21) and again she clenched the flesh at Mavis waist (22). At the end of the interview, Sal jumped up and screamed, Ow! Look! A beetle! and stomped on her mothers foot (24). These acti ons suggest Maviss lack of control in her home ; abused by her husband and children, Mavis exists within the house as an outsider lacking the supportive atmosphere of a social home, the independence of a personal home, and the safe haven of a physical home. Within her home space, Mavis lives in a state of what Elizabeth Grosz calls the disavowal (123), a form of exclusion where: The containment of women within a dwelling that they did not build, nor was even built for them, can only amount to a homelessness within the very home itself: it becomes the space of dutythe space of the affirmation and replenishment of others at the expense and erasure of the self, the space that harms as much as it isolates women (122). Mavis experiences this exclusion within the home offering a parallel view of the exclusion, blindly living with the feeling of homelessness, and never achieving the sense of ownership necessary for one to feel the independence and freedom of a personal home. That is, until the traumatic loss of her babies pushes her to run away, to get in her husbands car and drive.
162 At this time, Mavis is unsure as to where she is going. She had never been in charge of her own destiny and is unfamiliar with the concept of independence. Mav is is broken in multiple ways. She had been mentally and physically battered by her husband and children, sexually battered by her husband, and intellectually battered by societys ideals and norms. Mavis needs to break free of the societal norms that led to the sacrifice of her identity and the deaths of her babies. According to Min Jung Kim: Morrison envisions difference in those who reject socially prescribed male/female roles. Consequently, what Morrison writes against is a capitalist society that valo rizes male domination and materialist gain (1024). Mavis, therefore, must abandon her legal and biological family and house the societally acceptable norm, and become difference personified. The traveling itself becomes essential to Maviss growth and development, traveling as the first step toward building a home. Morrisons Beloved depicts this necessity of travel as Sethe must leave the only home she has known, the ironically named Sweet Home. Sethes description of Sweet Home shows it to be a physi cally appealing environment with the most beautiful sycamores in the world (6). Although this home is not her personal home, she simulates the independence and freedom her mistress has within her home in decorating the kitchen with her own personal touch, reflections of her own identity: a few yellow flowers on the table, some myrtle tied around the hand of the flatiron holding the door open (22). Sethe attempts to build a sense of home for herself based on societal norms and the ruling classs vi ews of what home should be. Sethe sews her own bedding dress for her first night with Halle, therefore subscribing to the institution of marriage and feeling the embrace of Sweet
163 Homes borders. However, the institution of slavery deprives the slave of a ny permanent access to his or her own body, meaning that Sethe can never experience the freedoms of the categories of home long term. At any moment her body can be taken by schoolteacher, for she is his property, and she or her husband can be sold from one another, for no slave marriage was ever acknowledged by law to be a marriage. As a slave, she is confined to her role as white mans property; she has no access to independence within a personal home; she has no safe haven of a physical home. Mav is, as does Sethe, must travel elsewhere (as Susan Stanford Friedman terms it) away from the home as a distinct constituent of identity and societal systems (110) to find a more suitable home of her own. Friedman states that such travel can defamiliar ize home, teaching us that what we take as natural is in fact culturally produced and not inevitable (110). She further acknowledges the necessity of revisionist feminist work in studying and breaking apart the traditional concepts of home, As ethnogra phies of dwelling, such work has usefully troubled the concept of home, denaturalizing domestic space and showing that it is anything but stable, and is frequently a site of intense alterity, oppression, marginalization, and resistance for women (113). While Sethe desires to hide from her past, working hard to remember as close to nothing as was safe (6) to push her past abuse out of mind, Mavis must drive in a direction that will allow her the complexity of destabilizing her ideologies regarding (ex clusion of) woman within home spaces. O f course, o ppression travels with the oppressed traveler T herefore Mavis must not run from her past but face it deal with her oppression allow herself to connect with her body and mind and the pain within Realiz ing that home is not universal but a product
164 of society becomes essential for Maviss building a home of her own rather than modeling it after the dominating cultures ideologies. Mavis had tried to build her family around a societal norm that was unhealth y to her individuality, depriving her of a sense of self. Now, Mavis must traverse a new space, a gap that Minrose C. Gwin calls the something else [which] resides between the journey toward what we want to find, the lost and lovely nest of home, and th e memories and wounds that take us on another journey, a hidden quirk in the spiral; destination unknown (163). To regain control of her body, mind, and spirit so she may experience a home of her own, she must travel away from the only home she has known. Happily, after running out of gas just outside of Ruby, Mavis gets a ride with a woman headed to the Convent and ends up staying there for years to come. She is later joined by other women also needing to run away from the oppressive nature of a patriarch al society. Each woman has experienced oppression within the home space by people who should be trustworthy and supportive. Young Consolata (Connie) Sosa was taken by a nun and raised the Catholic way: deprived of any sexual expression, self fulfillment, o r a connection with the natural world. Graces (Gigi) life was ridden with violence and visions of death, and she is haunted by her cowardice during a civil rights protest. At age five, Seneca was abandoned by her mother and later raped by a boy in her fir st foster family. Pallas (Divine) Truelove was betrayed by her mother (Dee Dee) who slept with Pallass older boyfriend. 4 Pallas fate before the Convent is unclear and confusing as Morrison offers fragmented images of boys chasing Pallas and forcing her c ar off the road. Whether Pallas is raped by these boys or men or no one, mental distress she experiences. 5
165 These women desperately need to experience home especially a personal, social, and physical home in order to heal themselves of their mental and physical anguish. They need a sense of spirituality within the home that can help them believe in themselves help them to feel independence, help them learn to help others without sacrificing the self. However, organized religion seems unable to off er Mavis and her friends free and full access to spirituality and spiritual healing. These women need healing, a special kind of healing that no established, male dominated religion can offer What they find in the Convent is, in the words of Linda J. Krum holz, an open house, open to any woman regardless of her race, religious belief, or social standing. Why the Need for an Alternative Religion? Five women, despite their differing experiences and backgrounds, all have one thing in common; they are brok en, used, abused, lacking self esteem, desperately needing to attain a deeper understanding of who they are as individuals. In the open house of the C onvent, the women find a special friendship, a kind of friendship rarely fostered by organized religion, one that opens them up to a greater self understanding. Furthermore, t he Convent becomes representative of the spiritual conflict between male dominated spirituality and a more nature based, Goddess celebrated religion which ultimately manifests itself in the violent conflict between the Ruby townsmen who practice Christianity and the women of the Convent who practice the alternate religion, a more feminist spirituality. 6 The Convent will offer them an alternative home space, the three categories of home e xperienced through the practice of a non Christian, not male centered religion, through the rituals of goddess celebrating, nature based spirituality.
166 Here the women and their new found family will build a mutually supportive atmosphere discover who the y are as women, and get to know their outer, inner, and sexual selves without prejudice within a social home. The Convent will become a safe haven of a physical home for these women to escape the patriarchal power that resides in society and within t he patriarchal based homes outside its doors And here t hey will experience the independence and freedom to attain a non hierarchical and not male dominated spirituality. But the women have much work, much to learn, before realizing their paradisiacal ho me space. Their work begins once a ll five women arrive at the Convent 1975. In the late 60s into the 70s, women were engaging in Consciousness Raising groups, where they came to a stronger understanding of themselves and their place in society. They also became aware of the oppression that existed in hierarchical, male based religions. They realized that a womans spiritual experience through male based established religion was actually male defined and that there was a definite need for a religion crea ted for women, a feminist spirituality (Eller 27). Indeed, these traditional, organized religions existed based on exclusionary practices and an imbalance of power. Paradise offers a critique of Christianity, for a large part of the novel argues against th e imbalance of power of men over women in society (most strikingly portrayed in Ruby). Certainly within traditional male based religions, women occupy a seat of inferiority, subject to the rule of a male hierarchy of power. Channette Romero focuses on the inadequacies of Christianity as it fails to heal trauma in an individual or communitys life as portrayed in Morrisons text. She argues: Paradise suggests that Christianity works to divide individuals from each other and their world. The text is critical of normative Christian
167 traditions for contributing to the subjugation of women as well as for constructing dualisms that disconnect its practitioners from each other, the world they live in, and their bodies (416). As with patriarchy, Christianity exis ts by means of exerting power over women. Therefore, the women in the Convent, especially the Catholic raised Connie, must find an alternative to traditional religions, one that will allow them more control over their own lives and healing of their perso nal pain Connie comes to discover how oppressive her own Catholic beliefs are, depriving her of a spiritual home, personal, social, or physical but her awareness comes in stages, over time. At age 39, h er thirty years of faith is first cracked l ike a pullets egg when she [meets] the living man, Deacon Morgan (225). This sexual relationship, however, leaves her spirit damaged when the relationship ends abruptly with a visit from Deacons wife Over ten years later, at nearly 50 years of age, Con nie meets Lone Dupres Rubys former midwife and healer, and Connie learns of her own special gifts of healing even to the point of bringing a boy back from the dead Connie is, at first, uneasy about Lones teachings as they run contrary to her Catholic beliefs, making her feel as if she were worshipping false idols. In my faith, faith is all I need, she tells Lone (244). However, Lone, in touch with her spiritual self, replies: You need what we all need: earth, air, water. Dont separate God from His elements. He created it all. You stuck on dividing Him from His works. Dont unbalance His world (244). Connies views differ with Lones suggesting the failure of the Catholic religion to offer the spiritual healing she needs, the healing with which she will need to provide the women. Instead, Lones practices offer a more natural spirituality and healing. Indeed, Lones description suggests a heavenly home on earth where all exist in harmony man, woman, and that
168 which male centered religions fail to inc lude, nature. This connection between nature and human kind leads Connie at least seven years later, to desire more control over her spirituality a change that comes overnight At this point, Connie desires the power to give more to others, to share her spiritual gifts with others who have been oppressed and hurt by men and patriarchal society as she has been. Connie and the others are all broken girls, frightened girls, weak and lying (222) and all need spiritual, mental, and sexual repair. Connie the refore accepts the role of Consolata, High Priestess, the woman who would show them the way to healing their selves, to better understanding their selves and each other, to realiz ing their place in the world around them, and ultimately she will help them finally experience spiritual, mental, and sexual enlightenment within their home space. Let the Rituals Begin Homes do not always consist of legal and/or biological relatives as we saw in Mary Leapors metaphorical home described in her poetry. Furtherm ore, as we have seen in Richardsons Clarissa and Morrisons Bluest Eye, homes where legal relations do reside together are often unsupportive and unsafe environments. Judith Fryer explains how women often seek out societies of their own creation because o ften they are confined to domestic activities, cut off from the social world of men and from each other (130). Women then gain power by either entering the male work world or creating their own society ruled by purity rituals and elaborate norms for strict dress and demeanor, modesty, cleanliness, and prudishness (131). Fryer views a convent as the most extreme example of such a world  a world wholly their own in which the very
169 symbolic and social conceptions that appear to set women apart and t o circumscribe their activities may be used by women as a basis for female solidarity and worth (131). In this space that was once a convent, Connie does not mandate dress code or specific manners of behavior ; she does, however, follow rituals essential t o each woman in her quest for home space. Through various healing rituals, Connie will offer each of the women in the Convent a chance to feel the supportive atmosphere and neighborhood of the social home, in other words, community, perhaps for the f irst time in their lives. However, first she must learn to take on the role of teacher, mother, and friend to the women. Romero attributes Connies spiritual practices to Candomble, a religion from her native Brazil that combines Catholicism with African spirit worship because Candomble nature gods are associated with the natural elements of which Lone speaks (417). However, her practices also echo Wendy Griffins descriptions of Gaians in her essay Crafting the Boundaries . Gaians a group who are a part of Nature, not apart from (77) recognize the im balance created when individuals separate themselves from what they perceive to be uncivilized the natural world. Among the imbalanced stands Catholicism which seeks to treat Nature as exterior and inferior to humanity On the contrary, Gaians, like feminist spiritualists, seek to connect all things the heavens, humanity, earth, air, water. Therefore, whether Candomble ritual, Gaian practice, or simply as feminist spiritualism making things up as they went along, Connie comes ever closer to creating a home space unconfined by physical walls but extending well into a heavenly/earthly home, a community of humankind and nature. Lone teaches Connie the power of stepping in or as Wiccans call it, the healing of etheric energy (Crowley Vivianne 152). Wiccans believe that the human body is
170 surrounded by an aura that suffers damage when the body is damaged. As with Lone and Connie reaching in to heal [an injured] boy, A skilled magical practitione r believes she or he can detect damage, use it to diagnose underlying illness, and repair the damage by transmitting energy to the aura of the person being healed (Crowley Vivianne 152). In the case of the dead boy, Scout Morgan, Morrison depicts this etheric energy as a pinpoint of light receding. Connie manipulates this light: Pulling up energy that felt like fear, she stared at it until it widened. Then more, more, so air could come seeping, at first, then rushing rushing in, ultimately widenin g this light or energy enough to bring the boy back to life (245) Connies training becomes essential to the work ahead of her and the others in the Convent, healing their individual mental/spiritual trauma so they may feel the peace that should be f elt within any home space. Each woman yearns for a space that is psychically safe (1026), as Kim deems it, and this informal training becomes the initial stage to healing each other, to creating such a space, a personal, social, and physical home. Once their High Priestess is ready and they can endure the spiritual healing necessary to make them one cohesive group, a supportive atmosphere and a family, then Connie begins to teach Mavis, Gigi, Seneca, and Pallas the art of healing through simple a cts of nurturing and caring, engaging in the work of healing each other and themselves. Overnight, Connie transforms herself from her figure as a push over type of mother, to a strict mother, a High Priestess. As [t]his sweet, unthreatening old lady who seemed to love each one of them best; who never criticized; required no emotional investment; who listenedand accepted each as she wasthis ideal parent, friend, companion in whose company they were safe from harm (262), Connie offered these
171 women nothi ng but a shelter from their pain. Adrienne Rich argues that such a place, as with a battered womans shelter whose door [is] opened to us when we need a refuge, is ideal for feeling compassion and love rather than hostility or indifference (336). Howe ver, the pained individual can not hide in this place, hide from her pain forever. Connie, then, becomes that which according to High Priestess Trish, high priestesses must become: you have to be the bad guy, you have to get people to see things they do nt want to see and that is tough [and though there are] good results in the endthe toughness is real hard and that is the same as being a mother (qtd in Berger 111). Connie becomes exactly what the Convent women need, the person who will force them to to see things they dont want to see, face their fears, face their pain, and learn to heal themselves. Toughness is the trait needed because maintaining a home space is hard work. Indeed, Chapman in his study of a Christian alternative home space, th e monastery, argues that a monastery demonstrates the kind of discipline and rigorous compliance with rules that is required for such communities to sustain themselves over time ( Chapman, Gender 123). He goes on to say, While different monastic orders a pplied different rules about, for example, poverty, silence, social isolation, fasting, sleep deprivation and a strict routine of work, celibacy, prayer and scholarship, all monastic orders expected complete obedience  ( Chapman, Gender 124). Toughness , complete obedience, hard work Connie accepts all of this when she says to the others on their first night, before engaging in ritual: I call myself Consolata Sosa. If you want to be here you do what I say. Eat how I say. Sleep when I say. And I will teach you what you are hungry for (262). 7 The sweet, unthreatening old lady Connie is no longer ;
172 Consolata Sosa, the High Priestess of the Convent is now in charge. I must stress the point however, that the control Consolata now exerts is not like the patriarchal power maintained in a position of hierarchy. Sociologist Helen Berger, in her essay High Priestess: Mother, Leader, Teacher, echoes Michaels differentiation between patriarchal power and the power the women in the Convent hold. She examines a power over such as established religious institutions maintain versus the power feminist spiritualists aim to achieve a power to that is, the power to gain control of their own lives without the oppression of others (Berger 108). Consolata may have p ower, but she is not using it to manipulate anyone, only to help others develop spiritually, psychologically, and magically (Berger 109). According to Berger, The [High Priestess] is expected to help people become aware of their problems and provide social, psychological, or magical exercises to help them grow (109). At present, the women at the Convent are all battered physically, mentally and sexually. They have little to no power over their own lives. Consolatas goal, then, is to introduce the w omen to an exercise aimed at empowerment of individuals to change their self perceptions and their lives (Berger 109). As Timothy Aubry argues, rather than enforcing rules that are repressive as do the men of Ruby, On the contrary, the rituals and regul ations she installs incite new unrestrained modes of artistic creation from the convents residents . For Morrison, then, doctrines and protocols are an indispensable feature of paradise, not insofar as they require strict adherence, but insofar as they provoke the constant, creative labor of renegotiation and revision (366). Consolata then introduces the women to the first of their healing ritual s
173 the creative labor or renegotiation and revision within which they engage as they rewrite their bodies: In writing the bodywomen in [feminist spirituality] are deconstructing the patriarchal religious metanarrative. They transform gender identity by subverting traditional meaning and representation of what it means to be female, simultaneously creating ne w definitions of appropriate gendered behavior for women. This process redefines the boundaries of what is acceptable. (Griffin, Crafting 84 85) Surrounding the basement in a circle of candles and then undressing (two custom s of feminist spirituality rit ual) the women are each instructed to lie on the floor. Consolata then traces the floor around their bodies with paint, essentially drawing a boundary around their physical selves. I argue that the drawing of the body represents their former home spaces, t hat which confines them into societys ideals. They remain within this boundary, remembering, in darkness lit by a circle of candles, naked like a baby in a womb while Consolata tells them Of scented cathedrals made of gold where gods and goddesses sat in the pews with the congregation and tales of other pagan figures: dwarfs, snakes, and a woman she calls Piedade. The healing commences as each woman tells her story, the story of shared trauma experienced within their former home spaces. Each story is, indeed, shared as [t]hey enter the heat in [Mavis] CadillacThey kick their legs underwaterEach one blinks and gags from tear gasYelps with pain from a strangers penis and a mothers rivalry (264). In this first step, j ust as feminist Witches sh are the feminist ethic of connectedness through shared oppression and the myth of a communal golde n age
174 (Greenwood 141), so do the women bond together like they have never done before. The anger that existed between Mavis and Gigi is gone; there is no nee d for Seneca to play the peacemaker; Pallas does not need to hide the truth of her mothers betrayal. They are interconnected through shared oppression and their desire to heal themselves and each other. They are becoming one with each other first, as la ter they will become one with nature. And each of them changes, over the months that follow, as they decorate their redrawn selves. Seneca, for instance, draws her cuts onto her other self and thereby saves her new body from harm. The figures on the floo r become their other selves, their former selves, the selves that have been bruised, cut, scarred, and pushed around, the selves they are free to leave behind as they are born anew. As one unidentified woman from Ruby notes upon witnessing them in their altered states: the Convent women were no longer haunted (266). Regarding this initial stage of the ritual, Shirley Ann Stave writes: [w] hether the ritual is read in terms of a return to an African religion, to a psychological process of reclaiming th e self, to a Candomble initiation, or to a Gnostic infused take on mainstream Christianity the result is the same (70). Through the process of rewriting their bodies, they empower themselves, face their pasts, and remembe r just as Leapor does through her poetry, Clarissa does through letter writing and the decorating of her coffin, and Claudia does in writing Pecolas story H owever, the women also experience the independence and freedom of a personal home as they step out of their drawn selves, an ac t symbolic of separating themselves from their unhealthy home life, minimizing the control their pasts hold over them but never forgetting, always maint aining the memories of their pain
175 As the women write their pains onto the cellar floor, they begin to heal, and so, too, does Connie heal through her role as High Priestess Consolata Sosa. According to Maeve Rhea, high priestess for fifteen years of the MotherChant Coven, being a High Priestess is muc h more than like being a mother; it is actually self e mpowering, and it gives her a sense of connection, and a better sense of [herself] (qtd in Berger 114). Connie would find her own sense of empowerment in leading her congregation. The ritual she leads the others through is not a power trip, however, but a sense of self fulfillment as she helps those in need. Michael argues: Indeed, the novel offers the Convent as a locally developed ethos of mutual caregiving, in both a physical and psychic sense. ... Caregiving becomes an active and activist response to the diverse social inequities the wom en have suffered. Casting aside th e conventional Western split between mind and body, the Convent offers a space that r ecognizes the interconnections of physical and psychic pain or imbalances and that allows experi ments in ways to face up to and move past these pains or imbalances. (653) Connie becomes active in caregiving for the women and with the women thereby helping herself while helping others Through her position as high priestess to the Convent women, Conn ie enables herself to move past the trauma of having been stolen from her homeland and her people, cope with the loss of the woman she had loved and the man she had coveted She opens herself up to experiencing the mutual exchange and the supportive atmos phere a social home offers.
176 Dancing with the Goddess Through writing the body and exchanging their stories, the women engage in the intensity of their first healing ritual. Once they have accomplished this take, they move out of the basement of the Co nvent extending the borders of home space outside into nature. Although the women have achieved a social and personal home, this move allows them to experience Kenyons third category, the safe haven and comfortable environment of a physical home (87). In nature, the physical borders of house and home are erased as the women experience the openness of physical space, an extended social home consisting of the support of the residents as well as an extended neighborhood, a heavenly/earthly home. They accomplish this through their final ritual, dancing in hot sweet rain (283). The ritual of belly dancing has been around for centuries, and has more often than not been misconceived. Literary scholar, feminist and instructor of Middle Eastern dance Janice Crosby, writes of the power that belly dancing offers a woman as her body connects with her spirit. She says however, that the ways in which the dance increases womens sense of power and self prove unacceptable to men who prefer their women t o be less than they can be (172). Indeed, i n feminist spirituality, the art of dance ignores societys disapproving eye, raising the dancers spirit from the negativity of societal space to a space of nature, a spiritual space, connecting her with the God dess, making her feel as if she were the Goddess (177). Prior to the womens spiritual transformation, we see the disapproving eye when the y dance at K.D. and Arnettes wedding reception in Ruby. The townsp eople stare in awe at what they perceive to be lo ose women loose because of the freedom with which they engage in the dance
177 Reverend Pulliam thinks: He knew about such womenalways on the lookout for fun; and his wife: She knew, as he did, that fun obsessed adults were clear signs of already advan ced decay; and the local girls look over their shoulders and snort (157). What the townspeople see is a sexual display of the body in the form of dancing, and yet the women grin and yip but look at no one. Just their own rocking bodies (157). Just a s the Convent women look at no one as they dance, so is dance during feminist spirituality celebrations done not for anyone else but so lely for the dancers themselves In dance, the body becomes one with nature as with any artistic expression of the bod y, soul, and mind. Fryer describes Willa Cathers character, Thea Kronborg from Song of the Lark as she undergoes a transformation her body becoming one with nature: the connection between matter and spirit, between form and desire. Her emergence as an artist comes quite literally from the earth: in contact with the earth/ she leaves once again to know and to delight in her body (300 301). Theas art as with writing or acting, or any activity where one escape s into an alternative reality allows the ar tist to abandon societal constructs and become one with nature, the earthly home Through artistic expression, the artist experiences a spiritual being within limits that protect (Fryer 293) home as a safe haven, a physical home The art of d ance al lows this transformation, allows the dancer to exist spiritually within limits that protect The art of dance becomes less fun, as when the convent women dance at the wedding reception, and more a second step toward further healing their emotional, physi cal, and spiritual pain. Thus, late one August evening, 1976, in the middle of the newly falling rain, the newborn women of the Convent step outdoors to dance.
178 B eing the High Priestess, Consolata started it; the rest were quick to join herthe rapture of holy women dancing in hot sweet rain. They would have laughed, had enchantment not been so deep (283). The lack of laughter shows that these women are not at play; they are, instead, completely caught up in the rapture and enchantment of this dance and the feel of the rain. They are already newborns from their template rituals in the basement, holy women who have found peace through their alternative religion. This dance in the rain becomes the second ritual a kind of baptism, a welcoming of th eir collective spirits to the natural world. In this dance, they learn to feel comfortable with their sexuality with their nature like bodies and are able to connect with their Goddess, their mother Earth. This second ritual brings the women further from their pain and their oppressive pasts, further from the negativity patriarchal society places on women. Crosby tells a similar tale of her first belly dance teacher, Khawliya, who, although a rape victim, took back control of her life through belly dance: She could move effortlessly from a gypsy pose on a chair, scissor kicking her legs in a flirtatious way, to a leap and a toss of her long red hair which said You cant touch this! When Khawliya danced, she reclaimed her power. Here was no victim (176) 8 Nor were there victims dancing in the garden at the Convent. Consolatas dance was furious, Mavis elegant, Seneca and Grace danced together [and] Pallasswayed like a frond (283). There are no men to pass judgment on them, just women, their bo dies, nature, the Goddess, and the dance. Finally, they are whole women again, mind and body as one with nature and each other, like the feminist spiritualists true self (Greenwood 138). At this moment, they have achieved what few ever
179 experience, the p aradise of existing simultaneously within three of Liz Kenyons four categories of home. Stepping outside the building of the former convent, the women carry with them the memories of their trauma, now rewritten, accepted, and even embraced preserved fo r life as part of who they are within their personal home. They are an inclusive family, a community, a neighborhood a supportive atmosphere within their social home. And embraced by natures hot sweet rain, they finally feel in this moment th at they have a place they can call comfortable, a safe haven in nature, in an earthly physical home (87). Paradise Reconsidered Liz Kenyon says the temporal home is stable and permanent (87). The impermanence of home in literature suggests the pr ecarious nature of home: Mary Leapor finds a permanent home but only through metaphor and fiction, through letters, words, sentences, poetry; Richardsons Clarissa finds a permanent home but only in death; Morrisons Pecola Breedlove finds her permanent ho me in the sad place she creates in her mind, through her abandoning of the real world into the dream space of insanity. Whether the women in the Convent achieve temporal home in a healthier manner than those mentioned above, in their newly formed earthly paradise is debatable. First, one may wonder how the Convent women could possibly have achieved the temporal home, let alone a personal, social, and physical home when there was so much work involved the templates, the facing of ones demons, e ven the contemptuous reaction of the Ruby townspeople to the women. But building a sense of home is never easy. T he owners of Mary Leapors Crumble Hall experience a haven
180 only through the servants toil, at the expense of the servants sense of home. T h e traditional head of the cookie cutter household return s from a difficult day at the office to find a clean, orderly, and peaceful home space only through his wife s toil, at the expense of her sense of home However, for the rest of those craving a hom e of her own, those without servant or wife creating a home space is an ongoing process entailing much toil As Gaston Bachelard says, to realize home in a permanent state would lead to thoughts serious, sad thoughts and not to dreams (61). Many critics note the importance of work in building a home (paradise) within Morrisons novel. Romero argues: This paradise involves endless work to be done not on some transcendent plane, removed from the earth, but instead down here in building more benign c ommunities (423 emphasis mine ). Janice M. Wolff emphasizes the pleasure the women in the Convent actually take in their daily house work routine: It is a scene of production and women active in the mode of production, not alienated from their work, but in harmony with it (8). Aubry explains: Those in search of paradise will, after a long voyage in unfamiliar territory, eventually discover their reward: interminable toil. They should not, however, be dismayed by this realization, since, according to Mor rison, such work is not a dreary alternative or an unfortunate but necessary prelude to paradise; such work is itself the essence of paradise  (350). The Convent women ultimately achieve a sense of home only because they are willing to work for it. In addition to all the work one puts into achieving home, there are other struggles women face in the home experience which interfere with the temporal home. Home, p aradise , is a dream people work to make real as they build elaborate structures full of p ictures of family and friends (memories) and build relationships with the people next
181 door or down the street (neighborhood). The reality of the world, however, often interrupts the dream, the peace, and more importantly, the safe haven of their phy sical home burglaries and home invasions, murder, rape, and even abuse within the walls of what should be their home space. The Convent womens religious experience within a feminist spirituality, although temporarily a paradisiacal home can not comple tely harbor them from the dangers that exist in everyday life. Thus, toward the end of the novel Morrison describes in fuller detail what she opened her novel with, They shoot the white girl first (3). D espite their spiritual power the women are hunted down and shot one by one, less like spiritual Goddesses, more like animals. The Ruby townsmen feel threatened by the womens ability to exist, even thrive, without men, to live without reverence to their own Christian God. Therefore, these judgmental men perform the execution of the Convent women and bring about the end of the Convent womens newly formed earthly home at the c onvent. However, the Convent womens work in building their paradisiacal home is not all for naught and certainly this is not th e end of their story, not yet the end of the novel Elizabeth Ely Tolman looks upon the ending of the C onvent womens life at the convent as not telling a disjointed story of disappointment and destruction (12). Although the women do not achieve a tempo ral home within the boundaries of the Convent, they do simultaneously achieve a personal, social, and physical home without and outside those boundaries, in the extensiveness of nature. Indeed, this ecocritical view 9 of the novel reveals the positi ve, the beauty of the interconnectedness of nature, religion, and African American identity (12). The novel ends not, therefore, with permanence as the death of the Convent women at the hands of the Ruby townsmen suggests is should be.
182 Instead, the nov el transcends this ending, end ing instead in resurrection and in the continuation of the work these women have yet to do toward building home. As discussed earlier, Consolata has the power to step in or see in. If Connie was able to raise a young boy f rom death, then certainly Lone, Connies teacher, can perform the same act on Consolata and the others Indeed, we see Lone left alone to watch over the bodies after the massacre has taken place and as the last of the Ruby townspeople get ready to drive a way, Lone says that Roger Best, the hearse driver, got a lot of work to do A lot of work (292). Her repetition of a lot of work suggest that the work to do does not belong to Roger, however, but to herself. Indeed, when Roger arrives at the convent, he finds no dead women anywhere, No bodies. Nothing. Even the Cadillac was gone (292). Just as surely as the boy was dead before Connie held him in her arms early in the novel, so were these women dead, but not permanently. Resurrections and Home Pres ervations: A Conclusion but not an Ending By understanding the community they have formed as a paradise, the Convent women create that paradise. Once they accept that there is no perfect place other than the one they can imagine and form, the women cease their wandering and begin to find peace where they are and, most importantly, with whom they are -Carmen Gillespie, Paradise On the floor of the convent, the women had faced their pasts through the metaphorical writing of their pain. Morrisons nove l closes with the resurrected women moving through life like warrior women ready for battle as they continue to face their
183 pasts in a more concrete manner The attack on the convent has taught them to be prepared to continue their work, continue to fight f or their homes, their homes now less a physical place and more a sense of place imagine[d] and form[ed] Mavis, Gigi, Seneca, and Pallas (her newborn baby in tow) carry on the preservation work necessary for maintaining a home as they encounter their bi ological families. While each seem s like chance meetings they offer each woman a chance to physically face her past, a greater step toward self healing than the metaphorical writing of her pain. On lunch break as part of a work crew, Gigis incarcerated f ather sees sunning herself by a lake, the daughter hed abandoned when she was but eleven. In her guest bedroom, Pallass mother sees the daughter she had betrayed (having had sex with her daughters boyfriend), digging under the guest bed for a pair of s hoes shed left behind. In a diner, Maviss daughter, Sally, sees the mother she had tortured A nd in a stadium parking lot, Pallass mother Jean who had been only fourteen when shed given birth to Pallas sees the daughter she had abandoned. The visits are each short but allow the women to continue their home work, allow them to continue connecting with and facing their pasts, and finding peace  with whom they are (Gillespie 136). The ending of the novel offers hope for women to know that there ar e alternatives to the established religion that oppresses. There is hope that women can live on beyond life, life after life, existence on a higher spiritual plane. The Convent women survive to build a home of their own, one they can carry with them always but one they now know they must forever work on W ith the help of feminist spirituality and the Goddess they revere the women appear comfortable as the novel ends laughing, smiling, and taking care of each other as they go They are comfortable traveli ng together, a supportive
184 atmosphere in a social home They are comfortable revisiting their pasts an act of preservation, as they hold dearly to their pained pasts, a collection of memories in a personal home. They are comfortable in the safe ha ven they have learned through feminist spirituality and their healing rituals, a haven that they imagine[d] and form[ed] (Gillespie 136) in their minds and in their spirits, in a physical home. E xisting in the open space of their extended earthly home the women carry on the home work they began in a building called the Convent.
185 Notes 1. S cholarship of interest regarding exclusion within Morrisons novel includes Linda J. Krumholz who writes : The irony of Paradise is that repetition without a di fference maintains itself through rigidity and exclusion and thus destroys the ideal it seeks to preserve; an unchanging Paradise inevitably loses its paradisiacal nature (21). In The Eye of the Needle: Morrisons Paradise, Faulkners Absalom, Absalom!, and the American Jeremiad, Jill C. Jones compares the events in the novel to the Salem witch trials, noting the repetition of the usual American sin of exclusion (16). And Katrine Dalsgard focuses on American Exceptionalism in her article The One A ll Black Town Worth the Pain: (African) American Exceptionalism, Historical Narration, and the Critique of Nationhood in Toni Morrisons Paradise. Here the exceptionalism as an ideal equals exclusion, for the small communitys and the larger nations v iolent attempt to preserve itself by destroying its other is not in conflict with, but is an inextricable part of, its ideal vision ( 241 ). 2. Jacqueline Fulmer argues: By depicting the Virgin in many hues, Morrison wants readers to question assumptions that Christianity is a white, western European faith. Many words of material folk culture in Europe, Brazil, and Mexico depict the Virgin Mary as a black or native woman (146). In these cases, the Virgin Mary visits the oppressed, most strikingly thos e oppressed by White oppressors (146 147). 3. In the introduction to this dissertation, I present Liz Kenyons four categories of home, Temporal, Personal, Social, and Physical, as central to the development of a
186 complete emotional, spiritual, int ellectual, and physical sense of home. All references to these four categories and the values found therein (independence and freedom; memories; supportive atmosphere; friendly neighbourhood; a comfortable environment; and a safe haven) are dra wn from Kenyons study, A Home from Home: Students Transitional Experience of Home. 4. Dee Dees betrayal of her daughter (as well as Birdies betrayal of her daughter, Mavis, to Maviss husband and Senecas abandonment as a child in a housing project b y her mother) brings to mind the often tense relationship between mothers and daughters in Morrisons oeuvre. Pauline Breedloves favoring of the white girl in The Bluest Eye helps push her daughter, Pecola, toward insanity as discussed in chapter three of this dissertation; and Sula puts her mother in a nursing home in Sula 5 Peter Widdowson offers a chronology of the womens arrival at the Convent in his article, The American Dream Refashioned . He further explains the error Morrison makes in her time line in a conscious effort to build irony in the shooting of the women in early July 1976, for this act corresponds with the bicentennial of the adopting of The Declaration of Independenc e 6 In this dissertation, I focus on the women who seek solace an d healing at the C onvent from home spaces outside of the immediate area. There are, however, Ruby townswomen who seek healing from the haven of the Convent as well, but they do not engage in the spiritual healing rituals discussed in detail later herein. I nstead, these women make the long walk up the road to the Convent (as opposed to the men who all drive), walking the earth toward a spiritual space not provided in their hometown.
187 In Ruby, the male based religions Baptist, Methodists, and Pentecostals de ny the women a voice in any significant decision making. When K.D. impregnates Arnette and then smacks her in public, the men, led by the Baptist Reverend Misner decide the fate of the young couple while the women, including Arnette, moved about upstairs, nowhere in sight (61). And when the young people of Ruby challenge the deciphering of the damaged engraving of the towns symbolic monument the Oven, two of the religious heads, Reverends Misner and Pulliam mediate the discussions The words exchange d, words that would decide the fate of the towns future in relation to the past, are words between the fathers and the sons , the women merely looking on quietly nowhere in sound (83). Ruby, being a patriarchal society, is not the most nurturing of home spaces for women or men Having been silenced for so long, therefore, the women turn away from Ruby in times of pain and suffering, seeking out the alternative life at the Convent for physical and spiritual healing. Back and forth, back and forth: cr ying women, staring women, scowling, lip biting women or women just plain lost (270). Among these women, Billie Delia, beaten nearly to death by her mother both physically a split lip and swelling under her eye and mentally having cried alone for wha t seemed like hours (152) seeks help at the Convent. This space becomes a supportive atmosphere offering Billie Delia the freedom to stay as long or as short a time as she likes. Once Billie Delia is healed, she returns to life outside the Convent. She does not, however, go away empty handed: What she saw and learned there changed her forever (152). Pregnant and unwed, Arnette comes to the Convent as well The women do their best to help her, guiding her through the labor of her son, but the child dies because of the
188 physical abuse Arnette inflicts on her body, punching her stomach and sticking a broomstick up her vagina to crush the baby inside her. 7 Prior to these words, Connie has set the table with a great feast, what Jacqueline Fulmer terms a l ast supper (70) before the women engage in their ritual for following this feast, their ritual has them eating a diet strictly consisting of the earth and water, bloodless food and water (265) According to Fulmer:  Morrison describes [the preparat ion of this meal] in glorified, succulent detail, evidence of the flesh and the spirit happily connected (145). Carmen Gillespie further emphasizes the importance of this meal. She notes the biblical allusion of the baked apples to the tree of knowledge: With her baked apples, Connie rewrites biblical narrative. Rather than prohibiting the acquisition of knowledge, Connies nutritional gift of apples encourages the women of the Convent to know (136). 8 Fulmer sees similarity between the Convent womens last supper and dance with the Poor Clare nuns of Lilongwe, Malawi. These women have a dance and song that they dedicate to the Virgin as part of their morning worship . Their dancing gains in speed, and they ululate, in deep act of worship that s prings from the heart of the Malawi folk culture, yet it remains just as deeply Christian as a Catholic tradition. The associations between movement, food, music, joy, and Christian spirituality in this religious folk tradition parallel the inseparability of the flesh and spirit portrayed in the Convent womens dancing and cel ebratory feast. (146)
189 9 As Elizabeth Ely Tolmans Approaches to Morrisons Work: Ecocritical explains, ecocriticism allows both readers and authors to foreground environmental issu es in texts so that these themes may be recognized and perhaps even studied scientifically (7).
190 Conclusion there is never an end to housekeeping its pain, its pleasure, its politics -Minrose C. Gwin I hope that for you, as for me,/ Home Girls pr ovides a means to know yourself and to be known, that between its pages you start to feel at home. Because in the end, there is nothing more important to us than home (lv lvi). -Barbara Smith Introduction In t he United States in 1979, Bob Vila stood al one as the host of the sole home improvement show, This Old House. Since then, we can find more variety in home improvement television programs, whether we want to fix our yards, kitchens, bathrooms; really any room can be a job to tackle, making our house s look appropriate and acceptable based on standards set by the shows producers as defined by the ruling class. 1 The presence alone of television channels completely devoted to improving living spaces, indoors and out, shows this newest television trend t oward home improvement. However, is this desire to make ones house a thing of beauty and turn it into a home worthy of the outsiders glance something new to society? Looking back, prior to the invention of television, numbers of magazines offered info rmation about home keeping, fashion, good health, and parenting. The home being the womans sphere, women were largely responsible for managing the home according to the magazine editors and writers standards. 2
191 Even further back, however, if we travers e the ocean to England, we find yet another medium focusing on the beauty of the home, specifically the country home, as country house poetry became a popular subgenre in the 17 th century. William J. Christmas describes these works as a panegyric, praisi ng the country house owners for their graciousness in making guests feel at home comfortable and welcome by maintaining the house as less a work of art to be admired and more a work of natural beauty, a space to be enjoyed by and shared with the passing vi sitor and members of the local community alike. 3 This dissertation examines the effects of this long time trend, of the media setting forth standards for home. These effects lead individuals to desire a home of their own that is at once based on the idea l and also a place of comfort and security, where the residents experience a sense of belonging. I expose, however, the limitations of the house as home in the ideal as set forth by society, for it is only experienced as home by few while a majority will never feel home within it because of their gender, socio economic status, and ethnicity. When examining these texts from male and female authors, British and American, separated by centuries, we realize the inability of this metaphorical, societally pre scribed ideal home to be much more than a metaphor. I began this dissertation with the idea that the three authors, Mary Leapor, Samuel Richardson, and Toni Morrison, offer literary representations of home that expose the dark side of the home elided in poetry, magazine, and television show alike the inequality, oppression, and sometimes violence within the home Showing these contrary experiences within the house thereby exposes the difficulties that arise when female characters attempt to live according to such home ideals. Female characters in
192 Crumble Hall, Clarissa, The Bluest Eye, and Paradise are without rights not only because they are female but because they are a servant; a young, marriageable woman; an African American adolescent; and individua ls engaging in non Christian spiritual practices. These women live on the margin of society because they are not of the upper middle classes, not male, not white, and not members of the Christian faith. Society, family, and community deny them the ideal ho me, and yet they seek home nonetheless, continually struggling through and working to develop alternative ways of building home, turning always to the imagination, the creative process, and fashioning a home of their own, using any means available placing poetic words on a page, etching symbols and biblical verses on a coffin, writing the story of a friend who can not speak for herself, and drawing the body on the cellar floor. As the reader of these texts, I discovered that a number of scholars miss a n i mportant way of reading them Our readings would often have us regarding these texts negatively, some as tragedies Mira must tend to servant duties in anothers house, chastised for writing; Clarissa is figuratively prostituted out by her family in her hou se only to be raped in Mrs. Sinclairs house (a space promised to be a haven); Pecola is raped in her apartment, and the convent women are hunted down in their house, the home they built together. These experiences are tragic, indeed, if we read them up ag ainst the ideas with which anthropologist Liz Kenyon c ategorizes home a supportive atmosphere in a social home, independence and freedom and a collection of memories in a personal home, and a safe haven in a physical home However, if as re aders we expand our idea of home to allow storytelling and narration, the spoken, sung, and written word, and the creative process and expression in
1 93 any artistic medium as home, then we see the workings of the imagination reconfigure space, transforming cl osed, tight, and claustrophobic space into wide open areas of growth, learning, and identity formation. Furthermore, reading these works positively, we open ourselves up to acknowledge that the characters each successfully find home: Leapor writes Mira a p oetic home; Clarissa writes her home in letters and on her coffin; Claudia narrates a space for a homeless and voiceless Pecola, and the convent women write their body, dealing with their past pain, healing, and yet carrying on with the work of home constr uction even after healing is complete. Such readings offer a model by which we may view home in our own lives, enabling us to deconstruct that which we take as the norm and instead accepting that we can construct our own versions of home away from societ al expectations and ideals. Furthermore, the home becomes a subject with which students can connect. Within the classroom, I find the deconstruction of home spaces to be an eye opening experience for students. Viewing home in new ways allows them to see be auty in homes that offer Kenyons categories of home without the price tag of the ideal home. T hese students can also come to accept their past homes as part of who t hey are and who they wish to be. Indeed, with new ways of thinking of home students becom e open to carrying their memories of home into their future home constructions regardless of whether their childhood home experiences were acceptable or lacking in relationship to the idea l Most important for the reader of these texts student, teache r, scholar, or pleasure reader is the strength all can garner from the ways with which each of these characters (aside from Pecola) persevere s despite the odds. With friends and/or family, the characters continue to struggle against societys ways, living their lives the way they
194 desire, in a home based on their own values, beliefs, and ideals. They offer the reader models of home alternative to the traditional home as set forth by the ruling classes. Furthermore, reading this literature is, of course, wor k, and the work we do as readers, teachers, and scholars emulates the work these characters must continue, for home is not static, not permanent as the ideal suggests. Home is work, housework, preservation, communal work, struggle, and survival. The creati ve product of home work is what survives. In book clubs, the pleasure readers are discussing; in classrooms, the students are questioning; and in journals and monographs, the scholars are challenging each other, reading texts in new and inventive ways; and even myself, as I write this dissertation, I help ensure the continuation of the work of building home, continuing to carry these stories of home into the future, hopefully well into the centuries ahead.
195 Notes 1. In the United States, our curren t television lineup consists of HGTVs HGTV Design Star Curb Appeal, and Dear Genevieve ; TLC has Trading Spaces and Clean Sweep and DIY has Indoors Out, Desperate Landscapes, Bathtastic, Kitchen Impossible, and Yard Crashers. 2. Deirdre Carmody offers a bit of historical background for the top seven womens magazines in her article, Identity Crisis for Seven Sisters. At the time of this article, 1990, McCalls the oldest magazine of the seven (around since 1873 as The Queen and then renamed McCalls in 1897) was facing a significant drop in readership and having to work on remodeling itself to attract the better educated and more sophisticated readers that many advertisers desire (D1+). Furthermore, from 1940 until 1990, Good Homes and Gardens (crea ted in 1922) had been among the top seven selling womens magazines. This periodical, considered to be under the womens home decorating category, maintained readership while its other six sister magazines all under the category of womens service face d significant drops (D12). Over the last century, home magazines have certainly maintained their popularity. 3. See Ben Jonsons To Penshurst, Andrew Marvells Upon Appleton House, to My Lord Fairfax, and Thomas Carews To Saxham and To My Friend G. N. from Wrest.
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About the Author Nicole Boucher Spottke received a Bachelors and a Masters Degree in English Literature from SUNY New Paltz in 1990, 1996. She started teaching composition courses while in the Masters p rogram, and continued her teaching at the University of South Florida while working on her Ph.D. Upon completing her coursework, she was hired as an English instructor at Valencia County Community College in Orlando, Fl. where she is in place to earn tenur e in Spring 2010. She has presented papers on eighteenth century English topics such as Samuel Richardson and Mary Leapor at conferences hosted by the Aphra Behn Society Celebrating Women in the Arts, 1660 1830 and the Southeastern American Society for E ighteenth Century Studies. She has also earned a number of awards for her writing including the Aphra Behn Graduate Student Essay Award and the Irving Deer Memorial Award for Excellence in Literature and Culture
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Coffins, closets, kitchens, and convents :
b women writing of home in gendered spaces
h [electronic resource] /
by Nicole Spottke.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 209 pages.
Dissertation (Ph.D.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic dissertation) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: Coffins, Closets, Kitchens, and Convents uses anthropologist Liz Kenyon's categories of home, Gaston Bachelard's theories on the importance of imagination and metaphor in home building, as well as literary criticism, sociology, and feminist theory to examine values of "home" in various literary works of the eighteenth and twentieth centuries. This dissertation's focus on the struggles within traditional home spheres highlights the female characters' need of a protected space. Yet these characters realize they must allow for connections with various individuals to bring about such a safe space. Through the creative act of writing, Mary Leapor's Mira in the poem, "Crumble Hall," Samuel Richardson's title character in Clarissa, and Toni Morrison's Claudia MacTeer in The Bluest Eye and the convent women in Paradise, each oppressed within the home sphere, gain full access to all that the idealized home entails in constructing their individual homes; they rewrite space into a home of their own. The chapters herein are organized from lower-class to higher-class female characters beginning in the eighteenth century with Leapor's servant narrator and moving up to Richardson's higher-class character, followed by Morrison's twentieth century impoverished youth in The Bluest Eye and variety of women both impoverished and well-off residing together in a convent in Paradise.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Advisor: Laura L. Runge-Gordon, Ph.D.
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.