A Feminist Perspective of Fern Leaves from Fanny’s Portfolio

1615 WordsJun 16, 20187 Pages
A Feminist Perspective of Fern Leaves from Fanny’s Portfolio Judith Fetterly describes the fiction of Fanny Fern as basically conservative due to the seeming resignation to the institution of marriage. She claims that Parton’s work is safe and makes only small challenges to the patriarchal institutions of her day. I do not see this in my reading of "Fern Leaves from Fanny’s Portfolio." I hear the voice of a woman who recognizes the problems with patriarchy and who does not flinch from revealing them. I found her writing to be bold and even angry in places. Rather than Fetterly’s interpretation, I identify more with Hawthorne’s assessment that Parton "writes as if the Devil was in her" (244). I think that her anonymity as Fanny…show more content…
She is not even the one who holds the baby. In "The Flirt," Nelly is the character with strength and morals. She is able to rid herself of her unfaithful lover. Nelly is endowed with "intellectual gifts," a condition which distinguished her from her fellow characters (255). She possesses "a nature essentially feminine; a refined, cultivated taste; a warm, passionate heart" all of which Parton praises. In addition to these qualities, Nelly obviously has self-respect. She acknowledges that her worth as a person is not tied to the foppish fancy of her fiancé. It seems to me that this is the very quality that Mary Pipher wants instilled in all young women. I find it interesting that the woman who is less physically attractive is the one whose sense of self is most secure. Kate ties her self-worth to the approval of men and thus subjugates herself to them. Nelly is in possession of her own self-worth and so she is free and whole. These stories show the value of the feminine. Women are thwarted to ill effect by the unfeminine forces which seek to suppress their voices. Mary’s voice is vindicated, to her horror. The invalid wife’s voice is literally suppressed by the "Gorgon" who continually instructs her to lie still and quiet, but her mind remains free (252). Nelly’s few words are shown to be far more powerful than the chatter of Kate or the empty promises of Fitz. The lack of correspondence between ability and authority demonstrated by these

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