Date of Award

5-1-2015

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

English

First Advisor

Luis Iglesias, Ph.D.

Abstract

Magical realism is a literary style that features supernatural or magical elements as an aspect of an everyday, realistic setting. The use of magical realism often reveals political problems and social concerns that are concealed in the world of power. This thesis examines elements of magical realism in Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits, Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus, and Linda Hogan’s Power. Though the cultures in which the works were produced differ from one another, the writers employ the style of magical realism as an approach of writing against aspects of the dominant culture, such as a military dictatorship, a patriarchal social system, and the contemporary, capitalist society of America encroaching on a Native American community. Through analyzing passages from each novel that which represent instances of the supernatural within the text, this thesis seeks to demonstrate the agency that magical realism provides for these female characters of Clara, Blanca, and Alba in The House of the Spirits, Sophie Fevvers in Nights at the Circus, and Omishto in Power. The thesis examines the novels from a feminist critical lens and examines the representation of women in the texts. The presence of the magical/mythic acts as an alternative world, an escape from oppression, and also as a means of empowerment against the oppression. This study works to understand the unique ability of magical realist texts to allow for imagining a supernatural world within the conventional and the ability of magical realist writers to speak for those who cannot.

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