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Willa Cather’s Ethics of Care: an Ecofeminist Interpretation of Neighbour Rosicky and Shadows on the Rock

Author: ChenZuoBo
Tutor: HuZhiHong
School: Sichuan Normal University
Course: English Language and Literature
Keywords: Willa Cather ecofeminism ethics of care sexual equality ecological harmony
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Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2011
Downloads: 44
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Abstract


Willa Cather, the 1992 Pulitzer Prize Winner, is one of the most famous and prolific woman writers in American literary history. During her lifetime, she has completed 12 long novels and more than 60 short stories, which have been interpreted from a wide variety of angles. But the critical attention is mainly focused on the pioneering spirit, gender issues and Southern heritage in her early works and few try to make an ecofeminist study of her later works.Ecofeminism is a combination of feminism and ecological movements, dealing with close connections between the domination of the natural world and the domination of women. It identifies anthropocentrism and androcentrism as the roots of the oppression of nature and women and advocates interdependence and ethics of care to construct a harmonious world devoid of any kind of opposition and oppression. This thesis attempts to study Neighbour Rosicky and Shadows on the Rock from the ecofeminist angle, focusing on especially two typical figures: Rosicky and Cecile, in order to explore Cather’s ethics of care for nature, women and human relations.The thesis consists of an introduction, four chapters and a conclusion. The introduction first gives an overview of the current studies on Cather, then provides an explanation of the significance of this research, and lastly introduces the outline of the thesis. Chapter One is a general survey of ecofeminism and ethics of care, the source of Cather’s ecofeminist consciousness, and the social context of Neighbour Rosicky and Shadows on the Rock. Chapter Two discusses Willa Cather’s ethics of care for nature by deconstructing anthropocentrism. Both man and nature are closely related in the biotic community. Man should love and preserve nature. Chapter Three is concerned about Willa Cather’s deconstruction of androcentrism and her ethics of care for women. Feminine qualities should be recognized and advocated. Both men and women should trust and respect each other in the domestic life. Chapter Four focuses on Willa Cather’s ethics of care for human relations in constructing a harmonious world. People are closely related to each other. Everyone is equal and should be respected and cared for. The conclusion argues that Willa Cather is a novelist with an amazing foresight of ecofeminist wisdom. Rosicky and Cecile are the ideal man and woman in Cather’s mind. Through the construction of them, Cather deconstructs anthropocentrism and androcentrism and constructs an ideal society characterized by the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature, men and women, and people in general.This thesis tries to enrich the literary study of Cather’s later works in terms of ecofeminist criticism. Exploring Cather’s ecofeminist wisdom in her novels has a profound meaning for today’s environmental crises and spiritual crises. It helps to arouse people’s ecofeminist awareness and reexamine their relationships with nature, with women and with each other, and then participate in constructing a harmonious world together.

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