Emporia ESIRC

The beautiful betrayer: a study of the archetype of the bitch-goddess in selected American fiction of the 1920s and the 1930s.

ESIRC/Manakin Repository

Show simple item record

dc.contributor.author Jacobs, Olivia D.
dc.date.accessioned 2012-12-13T14:16:50Z
dc.date.available 2012-12-13T14:16:50Z
dc.date.created 1979 en_US
dc.date.issued 2012-12-13
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/2279
dc.description iii, 108 leaves en_US
dc.description.abstract Although according to Jung the archetype originates in the collective unconscious and is therefore universal, the projected image of the archetype is colored by the experiences, the fears, and the desires of the individual writer who is projecting the image. As an archetype, the bitch goddess is a direct descendant of the femme fatale. Nonetheless, she stands as a uniquely American daughter of the 1920s and 1930s. In Fitzgerald's fiction she is Rosalind and Eleanor (This Side of Paradise), Gloria (The Beautiful and the Damned), and Daisy Fay Buchanan (The Great Gatsby); in Hemingway's fiction she is Margot Macomber (The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber"), Helen ("The Snows of Kilimanjaro"), and Lady Brett Ashley (The Sun Also Rises); in Faulkner's fiction she is Cecily (Soldiers' Pay), Patricia (Mosquitoes), Belle Mitchell (Sartoris), Caddy Compson (The Sound and the Fury), and Temple Drake (Sanctuary); in Nathanael West's fiction she is Faye Greener (The Day of the Locust). The bitch-goddess possesses virtually the same characteristics as her progenitor, the Fatal Woman; however, the connotations surrounding her title as bitch-goddess provide the basis for interpretation of her character. As goddess, she is omnipotent and omniscient. She is magnificently beautiful and adored because of her beauty. Although her appearance allures and entices her worshippers, the effects of an alliance with her are not benevolent. After having used her charms to captivate the male (she does not have female idolizers), her character changes to bitch. As goddess her form promises fulfillment; however, she never satisfies: her worshippers become victims and the goddess herself becomes a bitch. She is hard, cold, and selfish--an emasculator. The reasons why the bitch-goddess emerged and flourished during the decades of the 1920s and 1930s can be identified through an analysis of the several changes in the social structure, behavior patterns, and attitudes occurring at the time. The image of the bitch-goddess reflects the changes which were occurring in women's roles. Although the liberated woman retains an aura of feminine mystique, she becomes a challenger, a dominator, a destroyer. However, her symbolic significance is far greater than just dramatizing women's changing roles in society. She represents the whole of society which is shallow and devoid of meaning. She reigns then not over a plush, green Garden of Eden paradise or American land of opportunity, but over a morally decadent wasteland. The dream-image of her and all that she is has become nightmare. The failure of the American Dream is most clearly defined through Fitzgerald's Daisy Fay and Nathanael West's Faye Greener. As fairy princess and sex goddess, both women captivate the male, but both women ultimately are betrayers. Between the fairy princess and the tawdry imitation of a sex goddess, the bitch-goddess assumes a more masculine appearance in Hemingway's Lady Brett Ashley and Faulkner's Temple Drake. Both Brett and Temple possess money and power and are seeking sexual gratification, not love. In the pursuit of their selfish pleasures, these promiscuous women offer men only destruction and death. The males who encounter Daisy Fay and Faye Greener wish to possess them--both as female and as symbol. Instead, the female possesses them. On the other hand, the males who encounter Lady Brett Ashley and Temple Drake wish to conquer and control them. However, the female remains victorious and dominant. The power to possess and dominate in each case leads to conflicts and violence; and, though the bitch-goddess is the source of the violence, she remains impervious to that which surrounds her. Continuous changes in America's social order cause an alteration in the projected archetype of the bitch-goddess. Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind provides the transitional figure of Scarlett O'Hara, the survivor who becomes the independent career-woman, who, in turn, becomes man's primary adversary--the bitch with no redeeming qualities. The evolution of the archetype from femme fatale through bitch-goddess to the bitch coincides with the evolution of and the manifestation of the writer's experiences, fears, desires, and insecurities. en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.subject American fiction-20th century-History and criticism. en_US
dc.subject Women in literature. en_US
dc.title The beautiful betrayer: a study of the archetype of the bitch-goddess in selected American fiction of the 1920s and the 1930s. en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.college las en_US
dc.advisor Gary W. Bleeker en_US
dc.department english, modern languages and literatures en_US

Files in this item

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record