Gender Performativity and Motherhood in Coraline
Sammanfattning: Coraline by Neil Gaiman has several characters who in many ways break gender norms. The main protagonist of the novel, Coraline, acts more in accordance with masculine gender norms, and the mother figures are mothers who do not fully conform to the traditional mother role. The purpose of this study is to look at how Coraline and the mother figures perform their gender, and in which ways this breaks with or aligns with traditional gender norms. The analytical approach is based on Judith Butler’s theory of gender performativity, and on masculine and feminine gender schemas defined by John Stephens. For the analysis of motherhood, gender performativity has also been used, and works by Adrienne Rich and Einat Natalie Palkovich. This study shows that the protagonists challenge traditional gender role norms of masculinity and femininity, whereof motherhood is part. The study also shows that there is a lack of female role models for the young protagonist, and that acting according to masculine gender norms is desirable and necessary in the novel. But for the mothers, breaking gender norms is undesirable, dangerous, and even punished. A conclusion of the study is that even though Coraline appears to be a feminist novel, the underlying message is not entirely so.
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