The Emancipation of Celie : The Color Purple as a womanist Bildungsroman

University essay from Karlstads universitet

Abstract: The Emancipation of Celie: The Color Purple as a womanist Bildungsroman The purpose of this essay is to study The Color Purple as a Bildungsroman, focusing on the development of the protagonist, Celie. The Color Purple is related to both the traditional Bildungsroman and to the female Bildungsroman, but the essay shows that it can also be seen as a womanist Bildungsroman. Initially, Celie believes that being a woman inescapably means that she has to serve and obey men and she is oppressed by patriarchy. She is eventually introduced to another way of living by the strong female characters of Sofia and Shug who embrace her in a kind of sisterhood, which is vital for Celie as she has nothing else to help her liberate herself from the patriarchal values that keep her down. In conclusion, this essay shows how Celie has developed from being a young girl, forced to act in an adult way, into a woman who displays signs of all the criteria for having achieved a womanist development: she is grown up (not just acting as though she is), she is in charge of a business, a house and, in short, her life. She is serious, she has a universalist perspective, and most importantly, she loves. Furthermore, the essay highlights which characteristics of her development can be linked to the traditional and the female Bildungsroman and which characteristics can be seen as typical of a womanist Bildungsroman.

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