Binary Opposition in The Grass Is Singing毕业论文
1. Introduction 1
2. Demonstration 2
2.1 Binary Opposition Between Male and Female 2
2.1.1 Black Male’s Discrimination Against White Female 3
2.1.2 Gender Discrimination in the White World 4
2.2 Binary Opposition between White and Black 5
2.2.1 Mary Turner’s Prejudice towards the Blacks 5
2.2.2 White Farmers’ Scorn towards the Natives 6
2.3 Binary Opposition between Dream and Reality 7
2.3.1 Mary’s Illusion to the Future and Her Tragical Fate 8
2.3.2 Dick’s Disillusioned Romantic Dream and His Bankrupting 9
2.4 Binary Opposition between Civilization and Nature 9
2.4.1 Mary’s Hatred towards Nature 10
2.4.2 The White’s Ruthless Exploitation and Nature’s Revenge 10
3. Conclusion 11
Works cited 13
Binary Opposition in The Grass Is Singing
Doris Lessing (1900-2013) is regarded as the most prominent contemporary English female writer after Virginia Woolf. As a prolific writer, she has written a large number of works, including 20 novels, 11 collections of short stories, 14 poems, 4 plays, essays, reviews, some non-fiction works and autobiography. She was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature. In awarding the prize, the Swedish Academy described her as “that elicits of the female experience, who with skepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny”(Bloom 23). Thus, it gives rise to deeper interpretation and analysis of Lessing’s works from different levels by the domestic and foreign scholars.
In 1950, The Grass Is Singing, her first novel, was published, which made her vaulted to fame. The novel tells a case that the black servant Moses kills his white hostess Mary, which reveals the tragical destiny of Africans under the colonial and racial discrimination. Lessing’s works often reveal the urgent social problems, such as ethnic conflicts, gender relations and environmental pollution. These problems usually present in two opposite forms, so as the problems in The Grass Is Singing.
Binary opposition, as defined in Oxford Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms, is “the principle of contrast between two mutually exclusive terms，an important concept of structuralism, which sees such distinctions as fundamental to all language and thought” (24). It is put forward by Ferdinard de Saussure, a Swiss linguist, in his book Course in General Linguistics. Saussure holds that opposition is the inner nature of every subject matter. Through binary opposition, man classifies the chaotic world and imposes the concept of system on it, so man can shape outlooks towards the outside world.
The domestic and foreign scholars do their study on different levels. In 1981, A Study of Marriage in Doris Lessing’ Fiction written by Rochelle Diane Cleary says that marriage is the product of interaction between male and female, individual and society. Also, it demonstrates that “only a just society can reinforce the worth of each individual, and only then can each recognize the needs of the other and the demands of society itself” (14). In 2009, Joy Wang’s White Postcolonial Guilt in Doris Lessing’s The Grass Is Singing argues the warped interracial relationship between Moses and Mary, which “becomes the vehicle for a cathartic and redemptive alleviation of white postcolonial guilt” (1).
The domestic scholars have paid attention to Lessing’s works since 1950s. The earliest research is Sun Zongbai’s the sincere female writer Lessing. However, lacking research data from abroad, the reviews have many defects. Many evaluations and introductions lag behind the facts. Since 2000, the researches on Lessing’s works have increased sharply. In 2004, Shen Jieyu and Cai Yuhui discussed the fallacies in Mary’s consciousness to analyze the cause of her tragedy. In 2006, Kang Lihua studied the portrayal of Moses from the narrative skills of the novel. In 2009, Tang Linlin focused on the collapse of colonial myth composed by the colonizers. In 2011, Chen Zhifeng used the theory of “the other” and psychanalysis to propose the contradiction between society and individual so as to satire the hideous essence of colonialism after WWI. In 2012, Yang Ying pointed out that the conflicts between nations, gender, society and individual lead to tragedy. Although Lessing has been studied by many people, few people researched The Grass Is Singing on the basis of binary opposition.