“For Others, in Spite of Myself, from Myself”: A Levinasian-Feminist Reading of Charlotte Mary Matheson’s The Feather

Document Type : Original Article

Authors

1 Assistant Professor of English Language and Literature, Department of English, Yazd University, Yazd, Iran

2 MA in English Language and Literature,Department of English, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran

10.34785/J014.2022.853

Abstract

When Charlotte Mary Matheson began writing The Feather in 1929, numerous movements regarding women's rights were emerging. However, despite various references to contemporary issues, Matheson’s book initially did not receive much attention from critics; it was only after a few decades that The Feather became one of the best-selling novels, especially in Iran. In this article, a feminist reading of the novel was conducted on the basis of the alterity of the Other and the ethics of the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. The common ground between the theories of feminism and Levinasian philosophy is the relationship between the Self and the Other, which according to both theories, needs to change. Traditionally, men were accepted as the dominant power or the Self and women as the second sex or the Other. On the other hand, ethics, according to Levinas, emphasizes a proper relationship between the Self and the Other. Hence, the kind of relationship between the Self and the Other and the alterity of the Other become important; thus, this relationship requires a new definition. This reading of the novel shows how the relationship between the Self and the Other in the story, which begins with carnal desires, eventually ends in a moral one. In addition, the female character rediscovers her independence and identity, which was initially dominated by men.

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