A Female Reader’s Perception of Ovid’s Metamorphoses Essay

A Female Reader’s Perception of Ovid’s Metamorphoses Essay

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While Ovid’s female characters become physically and mentally enslaved in Metamorphosis, I will be arguing that a female reader of Ovid’s epic poem can empathise with her female counterparts, as she is frequently confronted with disturbing and problematic circumstances within Ovid’s text. The idea of entrapment therefore can be extended from character to reader. Whether reading the Metamorphoses for pleasure or for academic purposes , it can be argued that a modern female reader will in some way feel challenged by the themes Ovid presents to her – scenes of rape, male dominance and frequent victimisation of female characters.
In support of this thesis, I have been analysing feminist theories and the genre of gender in a literary context in order to support my investigations into what it is that makes Ovid particularly distressing to read for a female reader. I will be discussing themes such as how a female reads and approaches male biased texts such as the Metamorphoses, how she is encouraged to read it, and how she might interpret it to be sexist. In her article ‘Reading resistance in Ovid’s Metamorphoses’, Genevieve Liveley discusses ideas such as these in great detail, and it is this article that I will begin my discussion with. Firstly however, it is worth considering how we should approach Liveley’s article, so that it can be interpreted it in such a way so that it relates to my own discussion.
Liveley discusses various feminist views of resistance towards male biased literature, some of which specifically refer to female readers of the Metamorphoses, and some which are not so specific to Ovid. Because of this, whilst reading her article, occasionally it is easy to forget that she is in fact referring to women ...


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...re of Fetterley’s reading strategy of becoming a ‘resisting reader’, or indeed any other feminist reading attitudes. This might suggest that a female reading the Metamorphoses for pleasure and/or a female reading Ovid for the first time will react differently from a female classicist who would be used to Ovid’s controversial style of writing . However, I would argue that somewhere along the line, both kinds of women are in danger of feeling ‘trapped’ within her reading. A woman reading for pleasure is arguably more likely to empathise with the female characters in Ovid’s poem and put herself in their situation. If this is the case, she automatically becomes ‘trapped’ along with the female characters. This could also easily be the case for a female academic, although she also has the potential to feel trapped by feminist approaches as I have previously discussed.

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