Through A Glass Darkly: The Mirror Trope and Female Subjectivity in the Novels of Toni Morrison and Gloria Naylor
Cohen, Jessica Shepard
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Throughout their respective bodies of work, both Toni Morrison and Gloria Naylor invoke recurring images of the mirror and the mirror-gazing act. Because of the preponderance of these images and because of how they inform our deeper understanding of character, theme, and genre, I argue that these images constitute an important trope in Morrison and Naylor\'s fiction. Although the mirror trope pervades both writers\' bodies of work, it has not garnered significant scholarly attention, particularly with respect to the ways in which the trope highlights an intertextual dialogue between two essential writers of the 20th century American narrative. In this project, then, I conduct an in-depth but by no means exhaustive exploration into the mirror trope. I am specifically concerned with how each writer brings this trope to bear on issues of representation, the politics of recognition, and the dilemma of black female subjectivity and agency in a racist and misogynistic American society. I argue, then, that because the mirror trope is where patriarchal and racist structures of power collide, it signifies a critical point of intersectionality between race and gender. For that reason, the mirror emerges as a space of contestation within these narratives.
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