Sisters are Dying it for Themselves: The Myth of Persephone in Edna St Vincent Millay’s Poetry

Postgraduate Thesis uoadl:2874985 138 Read counter

Unit:
Κατεύθυνση Αγγλόφωνη Λογοτεχνία και Πολιτισμός
Library of the School of Philosophy
Deposit date:
2019-05-23
Year:
2019
Author:
Koukaroudi Konstantina
Supervisors info:
Ντόκου Χριστίνα, Επίκουρη Καθηγήτρια, Τμήμα Αγγλικής Γλώσσας και Φιλολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Δημακοπούλου Σταματίνα, Επίκουρη Καθηγήτρια, Τμήμα Αγγλικής Γλώσσας και Φιλολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Κουτσουδάκη Μαρία, Καθηγήτρια, Τμήμα Αγγλικής Γλώσσας και Φιλολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Original Title:
Sisters are Dying it for Themselves: The Myth of Persephone in Edna St Vincent Millay’s Poetry
Languages:
English
Translated title:
Sisters are Dying it for Themselves: The Myth of Persephone in Edna St Vincent Millay’s Poetry
Summary:
The myth of Persephone has been revised by a number of feminist writers in the twentieth century, in order to discuss rape trauma and female oppression. The American poet Edna St Vincent Millay, however, presents a different aspect of the ancient Greek divinity. Throughout her poetry, she seems to draw inspiration from the figure of Persephone, who appears to be her Muse, in the poet’s effort to establish a kind of female solidarity. My essay will aim on exploring the ways in which the myth of Persephone invites a sense of sisterhood as portrayed both in The Homeric Hymn to Demeter and on several of Millay’s poems. Drawing on the theoretical writings of Adrienne Rich and, specifically, the concept of the “lesbian continuum”, which refers to the existence of a close bond among women that does not limit itself to sexual intimacy but is based on their common experiences, as well as her thoughts on motherhood and the strength which originates form this bond for both mother and daughter, I will try to showcase how these concepts are reflected in both the myth and Millay’s poetry, enriching our understanding of both the ancient and the modern text. The state of matriarchy that Demeter and Persephone emblematize, along with their victory against the patriarchal oppression that they were both subjected to, will be read as a manifestation of the powerful force of female bonds. To further prove this, I will also be drawing on the Eleusinian Mysteries and the festival of Thesmophoria, which celebrated the mother/daughter relationship while enacting their story and united the women of ancient Greece allowing them to build a women-centered community. Meanwhile, this mythanalitic exploration will hopefully shed new light on the work of Millay, one of the most important American female poets during the first half of the twentieth century and a female activist, which however has been largely ignored. In her poetic work Millay combines mythology with her modernist political beliefs. Female experience, expression and resistance are found at the core of her writings and the figure of Persephone is employed as the embodiment of these ideals. Persephone, one of the most empowering yet overlooked goddesses, unveils through her story the power of sisterhood and becomes relatable to women even in the twenty-first century.
Main subject category:
Language – Literature
Keywords:
myth, sisterhood, mother-daughter,
Index:
No
Number of index pages:
0
Contains images:
No
Number of references:
28
Number of pages:
61

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