The Psychological Effects of Patriarchy and Female Decentralization in Barbara Wood's Novel Virgins of Paradise

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Farouq Rezq Bekhit Sayyid


The present paper offers a critical feminist reading of the American novelist Barbara Wood's bestselling novel Virgins of Paradise (1993). It aims at analyzing Wood's novel in light of feminist criticism demonstrated particularly in works by Chandra Mohanty, Fatima Mernissi, and Daphne Grace and their theory of patriarchy. The analysis of this novel motivates one to infer how patriarchy is engineered by the male to subdue and decentralize the female by treating the latter as if she were a sexed being, or rather the inessential other. In order to achieve this objective, Wood sets up a narrative vision in terms of which she portrays how patriarchs marginalize and subordinate women. Hence, the very objective of the paper is to argue that the subordination of women is the leitmotif in Wood's Virgin of Paradise. In order to depict such a dominant motif, i.e., how women suffer from patriarchal segregation, Wood composes a feminist vision that brings into prominence the power-structured relationships designed by the male to create an imbalance of power that subordinates the female. This paper is also meant to explore the reasons behind the birth of patriarchy as well as motivating women to stand against patriarchal programming, which seems to have marginalized women since the beginning of human history. Such is the patriarchal agenda which has driven Wood to point out how patriarchy does not only minimize the status of women, but also instill into culture that they are not humans.

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