The Feminist Element of Eudora Welty's The Bride of Innisfallen

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The Feminist Element of Eudora Welty's The Bride of Innisfallen

Suzanne Marrs' work, "Place and the Displaced in Eudora Welty's The Bride of Innisfallen, focuses on Welty's settings in the collection specifically Welty's departure from using her native Mississippi. Marrs recounts the events of Welty's life in the early 1950s, the time Welty wrote these stories, and how her journeys in Europe influenced The Bride. But one important element of Marrs' critique gets buried within the text, the feminist element of Welty's technique which gives the women of Homer's Odyssey a voice, especially Circe.

Marrs wrote that Welty had reread the Odyssey after completing The Golden Apples. With the epic fresh in her mind, Welty wrote Circe, her first story for The Bride, though the fifth in the collection:

In this explicit rather than allusive use of myth and in her choice of a

Mediterranean setting, Welty departs from the dominant pattern of her earlier

works. Ultimately, Welty decided that her direct address of the archetypal Circe

could be even more inclusively archetypal, and in the wake of her European

travels and of meeting with Elizabeth Bowen, she revised her periodical version

of her story to insure that the story's greatest emphasis would fall not upon a

female version of myth but upon the unresolvable mystery at the heart of human

identity, the mystery that distinguishes men and women from gods and

goddesses, the mystery involved in the quest for independence and the battle

against mortality. (2)

Dorothy Parker wrote, "Penelope" the story of Odysseus' wife, giving voice to Odysseus' wife. In "Penelope" she remains faithful to Odysseus during his 20 year absence and her personal strength increases. Penelope fights off unwanted suitors and runs the kingdom alone. Parkertold Penelope's story beginning a Twentieth Century feminist view of the Odyssey and telling the tales of the women with the narratives of women.

Circe, who is seen as the unseemly temptress who enslaves Odysseus with her sexuality in Homer's version, is given a voice by Welty. Welty's Circe says, "In the end it takes phenomenal neatness of housekeeping to put it through the heads of men that they are swine.

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