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Literature, Mothers in

Mothers frequent the literature of all nations in all time periods. As the origin of life for humankind, they provide an enduring focus for the literary imagination of both female and male writers. Among the major writers in the British and American traditions, literary representations of mothers and the maternal often reflect the values, norms, and expectations placed on women in their time, but they also frequently question them. Sometimes the questioning is a direct challenge to social demands, while at other times, it subtly subverts them.

As in daily living, mothers in literature are often a site of conflict and tension. They are worshipped and blamed. Literature's mothers are both the object and agent of love and devotion, resentment and rejection. They bear the complex, ...

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