Women’s Simmering Discontent, and Emancipatory Attempts in Margaret Laurence’s The Fire-Dwellers
Keywords:Emancipation, Feminism, Discontent, Patriarchy, Subjugation, Dependency
The Fire-Dwellers (1969) is one of the Manawaka series novels of Margaret Laurence. The novel was written at the time when women’s emancipation movements were gaining momentum, primarily in the United States, but in other parts of the world as well. So, clearly, the narrative is largely affected by women’s simmering discontent with their stagnant lives in Canada too. The novel reflects Canadian women’s desire to free themselves from the common drudgery at home and to be part of a more active populace working outside the home, themselves writing the rules of their lives. The woman protagonist in the novel, Stacey MacAindra, is a common housewife taking care of her husband and their four children. She feels she is happy keeping the societal values intact but suddenly feels frustrated realizing one day that she is the only one in her family whose existence in the family is only for others, while to everyone else in the family their lives are important for themselves, not for others. However, my reading of The Fire-Dwellers is that Margaret Laurence was not in total disregard of family values, or for complete independence of women from the patriarchal system as we see it in women's emancipation movements today.
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