This paper examines the relationship between adolescent female characters and silence in Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940) and Angela Carter’s The Magic Toyshop (1967). The established body of criticism focusing on McCullers’ and Carter’s depictions of the female grotesque provides the theoretical framework for this paper, as I explore the implications of these ideas when applied to language and speech. In a white Western society, where a woman’s sexuality, appetite and articulation are controlled and suppressed, this paper asks: what options for expression are there, for women whose speech is always limited to their body, and whose body always speaks alterity and abjection to male interpretation? Mute characters and their relationships with the female protagonists of these two novels open up my discussion of disembodiment, silence, and the appropriation of male-dominated cultural history in the aid of female articulation. Ultimately I discuss the ways in which these two writers explore the extent to which women can ‘speak for themselves’, by working within and against existing social and cultural models of womanhood.
Speech, Silence and Female Adolescence in Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Angela Carter’s The Magic Toyshop.
Journal of International Women's Studies, 11(3), 4-18.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol11/iss3/2