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Battered Woman Syndrome In Adichie's Purple Hibiscus

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Adichie's Purple Hibiscus is a coming-of-age novel is about the effects of an oppressive patriarchal society. Throughout the story, Beatrice— the mother of the protagonist Kambili— agonizes silently over her abusive relationship with her husband which causes her to murder him. Beatrice displays several symptoms of battered woman syndrome throughout the novel. Battered woman syndrome is a mental disorder that emerges within victims of long-term domestic abuse (Thomson Reuters). Around 4,000 women a year die at the hands of their abusers — 75 percent of them because they are trying to leave. For women, killing is often seen as a last resort (Starre Vartan). An example of a battered woman syndrome case is the case is People v. Scott in 1981, Caroline Scott murdered her husband Arthur Lee because she feared that he would murder her and her children ( Tobias Barry). In the novel, a similar situation occurs, with Beatrice. She believed that the only way to break free from the shackles her husband placed upon their family. The catalyst for her murder was when her husband abuses Kambili so much to the point she becomes “seriously ill”(212).…show more content…
Beatrice murdering her husband didn’t come out of nowhere like her children thought— it was due to built-up tension, pressure, and abuse until she finally snapped. She couldn’t withstand being a bystander— to her the only way to preserve her status and her children’s lives was to murder her husband. Beatrice clearly displays symptoms of battered woman syndrome, however, some of these symptoms are congruent with post-traumatic stress disorder, such as emotional detachment to life at the end of the novel. Kambili uses words such as “vacuously” (302), to describe her mother. According to her daughter, her mother doesn’t, “ reply to her[Sisi], Mama simply sat and stared” (298). Beatrice’s mind is now undone, unable to be stitched back to
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