The Undesirable Dream

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The Undesirable Dream Wanda Coleman’s “In the City of Sleep” encapsulates the traditional version of female success prevalent in early post-war America. Like most women at the time, Coleman’s narrator was confident she would fulfill the aspirations of being the obedient and supportive wife of the perfect socially mobile husband and raising a family in a moderately affluent style because she lived in America, which gave every indication that this was an inevitable and desirable outcome. Similarly, the women of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (1963) become engaged in a conflict that Joan personifies between individualism and conformism with the traditional version of female success. In Thelma & Louise (1991), that dialectic becomes even more apparent as the women on the lam literally escape the patriarchal version of success, which still exists despite some male sympathy. Ultimately, the texts chart women’s dissatisfaction with the traditional version of female success and the men and institutions which insist upon it, as the women in each text strive for the freedom and independence to find fulfillment in an impossible and intangible dream written by them and not for them, whatever that may be. Furthermore, Coleman’s City of Sleep is a state that corresponds to suicide, which The Bell Jar and Thelma & Louise also employ to ensure that freedom. Therefore, these texts collectively discard the traditional version of female success as not only unobtainable but also undesirable because of its inherent lack of freedom for women to dictate their own lives. The narrator of “In the City of Sleep” makes her desire to fulfill the traditional version of female success quite clear. She wants to marry her handsome boyfriend after he retur... ... middle of paper ... ... Mouth, 2004. Print Khouri, Callie. Thelma & Louise. The Outlaw Bible of American Literature. Ed. Alan Kaufman, Neil Ortenberg, and Barney Rosset. New York: Thunder's Mouth, 2004. Print Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar. The Outlaw Bible of American Literature. Ed. Alan Kaufman, Neil Ortenberg, and Barney Rosset. New York: Thunder's Mouth, 2004. Print Works Cited Coleman, Wanda. "In the City of Sleep." The Outlaw Bible of American Literature. Ed. Alan Kaufman, Neil Ortenberg, and Barney Rosset. New York: Thunder's Mouth, 2004. Print Khouri, Callie. Thelma & Louise. The Outlaw Bible of American Literature. Ed. Alan Kaufman, Neil Ortenberg, and Barney Rosset. New York: Thunder's Mouth, 2004. Print Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar. The Outlaw Bible of American Literature. Ed. Alan Kaufman, Neil Ortenberg, and Barney Rosset. New York: Thunder's Mouth, 2004. Print
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