Imagination: The Forbidden Fruit

Azza el Kholy
2003 مجلة بحوث کلیة الآداب . جامعة المنوفیة  
This paper is a comparative study of the Egyptian short story 'Worms in the Rose Garden" by Saiwa Bakr, published in 1992, and the American story "The Yellow Wallpaper' by Charlotte Perkins Oilman published in 1892. Although the two stories are separated by a hundred years, both writers address the same issue; that of women driven to madness because of their refusal and/or inability to fit into the "model" of woman created by their respective societies. The two heroines are characterized by an
more » ... magination that renders them incapable of accepting the superficial, contrived rules of social conformity, and, consequently sets them apart from their socio-cultural environment. This isolation forces them to take a long introspective journey into the reality of theft lives which, eventually drives them to the borders of insanity. Imagination also places them at odds with their social milieu as the two writers posit their protagonists against their families; the microcosm of society. Despite the temporal, geographical and cultural differences, both texts illustrate women's quest for independer~ce and individuality. The texts also discuss imagination as a hindrance and a liability. As a hindrance, imagination is largely responsible for the two women's failure to integrate in theft societies and be accepted by those around them, and, similarly, imagination becomes a liability when it leads the two heroines into a state of insanity. Thus, a pivotal question poses itself here: Is female nonconformity synonymous with madness? Or is it synonymous with madness only when it threatens the violation of the rigid rules of a long standing patriarchal social establishment where "the dynamics" of "the social structure.., are based on a power relationship in which women's interests are subordinated to those of men"? (Hafez). However, woman, as Cixous observes "must put herself into the textas into the world and historyby her own movement"(p.316). Therefore, it is through studying these texts by women and about women that we comprehend woman's place in history and in her society at a given time. The two stories by Oilman and Bakr demonstrate the repressive, oppressive and often marginalized role that is dictated upon the heroines by theft societies. The narratives also I
doi:10.21608/sjam.2003.139526 fatcat:wm7qpiy3uzdldn5r2vvvj73t7m