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Mother/Daughter Plot (Hirsch)

  • By: Gillian M.E. Alban
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Marianne Hirsch's study focuses on the mother-daughter relationship through examples from the literature of western Europe and North America in the 19th and 20th centuries. Hirsch draws the mother-daughter cathexis from the margins to the center in her discussion of women's writings, placing them against classical mythological paradigms.

In The Mother/Daughter Plot (1989), Hirsch argues that the stories of mothers were seldom treated in Western literature until recently, in part due to the privileged position granted to the Oedipal myth in which Jocasta's voice is not heard. In 18th- and 19th-century female novels such as those by Jane Austen and George Sand, mothers are typically absent or ineffectual, which Hirsch links to the heroine's need to break from the mother in order to be productive and ...

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