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Metamorphosis and the Emergence of the Feminine

A Motif of «Difference» in Women's Writing

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Paula Smith Allen

Metamorphosis and the Emergence of the Feminine: A Motif of «Difference» in Women's Writing examines a motif of metamorphosis that follows the models of self-awareness proposed in several feminist theories. Women writers from both North and South America, including those from different ethnic groups in the United States, employ the motif of insect and seed metamorphosis, which shows a development of the motif in stages as women increasingly become aware of the existence of a feminine self that is not acknowledged in language. The use of the motif by these writers, separated by both distance and influence, is an attempt by women writers to reject the «casting» of women's experience in the archetypal images of Persephone and Penelope, as was traditionally assigned to the feminine by Western civilization. Instead, the use of the metamorphosis motif promotes the adoption of the image of Psyche's search as appropriate to reflect the feminine quest for autonomy.