Date of Award

5-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

College/School

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Department/Program

English

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Jonathan Greenberg

Committee Member

Rita Jacobs

Committee Member

Monika Elbert

Subject(s)

Anita Loos (1893-1981)--Gentlemen prefer blondes, Stella Gibbons (1902-1989)--Cold Comfort Farm, Tricksters in literature, Women in literature

Abstract

The trickster figure is an archetypal character that can be found in the oral traditions of Native Americans, Greek and Roman mythologies and stories from Polynesia, Africa, the Bible, African American tradition and even in modem literature. This essay examines the female protagonists of Anita Loos’ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Stella Gibbons’ Cold Comfort Farm as ideal prototypes of tricksters. In Loos’ story, Lorelei jet sets around Europe tricking men into buying her diamonds and offering up engagement proposals throughout her journey. In Gibbons’ story, Flora leaves her sophisticated urban world to enter another more primitive rural one in which she cleverly orchestrates the destinies of the people living on Cold Comfort Farm. Both of these women are resourceful and resort to trickery and deceit to achieve their goals. Lorelei and Flora both possess the traits of a trickster figure, but this essay also analyzes what makes these women “modern” trickster figures, different than the tricksters of the old patriarchal world. It also examines why it is important that they are female trickster figures rather than prototypical male trickster figures.

Both of these women are complex and become very ambiguous throughout the text. True to a trickster figure, they have a dual nature and the reader is constantly questioning each character’s nature and motives. This essay attempts to answer questions about their true nature: are these women evil and manipulative or are they small town girls trying to get ahead on life, or bored women looking for a purpose? Are they intelligent or foolish? The real duality within these women lies in their position and role within the satirical text and simultaneously as women within their own societies. Are Flora and Lorelei the satirists or are they the satiric objects?

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