Women of the West as outlaws, a study of Sylvie Fisher of Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping and Marian Forrester of Willa Cather's A lost lady

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Le Roux, Rachelle
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This thesis examines why the term heroine does not adequately represent Sylvie Fisher of Marilynne Robinson's novel 'Housekeeping ' and Marian Forrester of Willa Cather's novel 'A Lost Lady ' are not adequately represented by the term heroine. I argue that the term heroine is limited by its identification with femininity and the feminine gender. This identification with the feminine further binds it to the female half of a male-female binary construction. The term heroine cannot contain Sylvie and Marian because they themselves do not remain within the boundaries of behaviour and roles that are commonly perceived as feminine. I examine other terms offered by various feminist scholars as alternatives to the term heroine, but in the end select my own choice of the term outlaw. The choice of this term is inspired by the western setting of both novels, by the term outlaw's not being part of a male-female binary construction in language, and by the parallels I perceive between the figure of the outlaw and the two characters under consideration here. I ultimately offer this term as an addition to the term heroine, and not necessarily as a replacement. I conclude that there is still a need for the term heroine but because the female characters that populate the general fictional world are so numerous and so varied there needs to be more terms from which to choose.