Wished-for and Unwished-for Identities
Edited By Flocel Sabaté
Neither Miss Marple nor Miss Havisham: Stereotypes of Ageing Women and Identity in Later Life in Donna Leon’s Drawing Conclusions285
← 284 | 285 → Neither Miss Marple nor Miss Havisham: Stereotypes of Ageing Women and Identity in Later Life in Donna Leon’s Drawing Conclusions
Universitat de Lleida
Zoe Brennan remarks on the fact that traditional gerontology has theorized about older people “as a homogeneous group”, more often than not disregarding gender among other aspects1. As she contends, “the marked imaginative power of representations of the old reflects their social status as Other2”. This is especially true as regards representations of aged females in fiction. Either as a devoted and nurturing grandmother, as a benevolent and obliging spinster like Miss Marple, or as an embittered and demented Miss Havisham, fictional representations of aged female characters fulfill “a very limited number of roles” and thus cannot be descriptive of the multiple and multifaceted aspects involved in women’s experience of ageing3. Arber and Ginn have aptly noted that “in all three meanings – chronological age, social age and physiological age – ageing is gendered4”. Isabella Paoletti among others seems to corroborate this view, since her study has pointed to the fact that, among older people, women suffer most from both sexism and ageism: since women generally live longer than men, they are more likely to experience loneliness and isolation in the latter part of their lives. Moreover, since their work history is often discontinued or largely made up of part-time jobs because of domestic and maternal duties, they constitute the majority of senior citizens with a lower income5....
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