Date of Award

1991

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

School

School of Community and Language Studies

Abstract

Olive Schreiner's The Story of an African Farm was first published in 1883 in England as the work of "Ralph Iron", Like many other women writers born in the nineteenth century, such as Charlotte Bronte ("Currer Bell") and Mary Ann Evans ("George Eliot"), Schreiner's use of a male pseudonym lent authority to her work. Ironically, this device also enabled women writers 10 exploit the sexism of the Victorian publishers and the reading public. In doing so they demonstrated the "radical understanding of the role-playing Icquired by women's effort to participate in the mainstream of literary culture" (Showalter, 1977, p. 19). Moreover, these writers found lila! they could secure a place in literary history disguised as men and simultaneously attack the foundations of the society which made such disguises necessary. Schreiner attempts jllst this in a novel which explores Victorian ideologies of gender and the possibility of transcending gender stereotypes. In particular, through the experiences of the characters in The Story of an African Farm (Schreiner, 1883) the doctrine of the "separate spheres" is presented as restrictive and unjust, especially with regard to education, work and personal relationships. And it is primarily through the central character of Lyndall that the text suggests the possibility of transcending gender stereotypes in order to overcome these restrictions.

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