Love and the Unstable Female Sense of Self

Compares the views presented about the construction of the female sense of self in the two novels, “The Lover” and “Love in a Small Town”.

This paper summarizes and compares the novels, “The Lover”, by Marguerite Duras, and “Love in a Small Town”, by Anyi Wang. The paper focuses on the different views each novel presents about the construction of the female self and suggests that this difference may lie in their very different portraits of motherhood.
“Lord Byron, in his epic poem “Don Juan,” famously noted that although love may be an all-consuming passion for men and women, only for women does it provide the sole reason for their existence. If Byron were a postmodern literary critic, he might rephrase his sentiments by to say that love and sexual desire provides women in today’s culture and society with their primary means of constructing a self. The French author Marguerite Duras might add that when the female self is constructed in a forbidden relationship, with a man construed as other, the female in question is left with an even more unstable sense of identity than her fellow females similarly subjugated by constructs that define a woman physically and emotionally incomplete unless she is in a relationship with a man. In contrast, Wang Anyi’s Love in a Small Town portrays a protagonist that emerges with a stronger sense of self, because her relationship cannot be defined by her community’s constructs of a love relationship, in the bonds of marriage.”