Somebody's daughter : the portrayal of daughter-parent relationships by contemporary women writers from German-speaking countries
The purpose of this thesis is to examine the complexities of daughterhood as portrayed by nine contemporary women writers: from former West Germany(Gabriele Wohmann, Elisabeth Plessen), from former East Germany (Hedda Zinner, Helga M. Novak), from Switzerland (Margrit Schriber) and from Austria (Brigitte Schwaiger, Jutta Schutting, Waltraud Anna Mitgutsch, Christine Haidegger). Ten prose-works which span a period of approximately ten years, from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, are analysed according to theme and character. In the Introduction, we trace the historical development of women's writing in German, focusing on the most significant female authors from the Romantic period through to the rise of the New Women's Movement in the late sixties. We then consider a definition of 'Frauenliteratur' and the extent to which autobiography has become a typical feature of such women's writing. In the ensuing four chapters we highlight in psychological and sociological terms the mourning process a daughter undergoes after her father's death; the identification process between daughter and mother; the daughter's reaction to being adopted; and the daughter's decision to commit suicide. We see to what extent the environment in which each of these daughters is brought up as well as past events in German history shape the daughter's attitude towards her parents. Since we are studying the way in which these relationships are portrayed, we also need to take into account the narrative strategies employed by these modern women writers. In the light of our analysis of content and form we are able to examine the possible intentions behind such personal portraits: the act of writing as a form of self-discovery and self-therapy as well as the sharing of female experience. We conclude by suggesting the direction women's writing from German-speaking countries may be taking.