Home / Regular Issue / JSSH Vol. 31 (4) Dec. 2023 / JSSH-8867-2023


Multi-dimensional Gender Perspective in Historical Narrative Structure of A. S. Byatt’s Possession: A Romance

Yingying Fan, Hardev Kaur Jujar Singh, Diana Abu Ujum, Hasyimah Mohd Amin and Xia Hou

Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities, Volume 31, Issue 4, December 2023

DOI: https://doi.org/10.47836/pjssh.31.4.05

Keywords: A. S. Byatt, androgyny, cycle of history, gender issues, historical narrative

Published on: 13 December 2023

This study explores gender issues in the historical narrative structure of A. S. Byatt’s novel Possession: A Romance (1990) by critically examining women’s exclusion from society, men’s identity crisis in gender environments, and the separation and union between two sexes in the novel. To reveal these complicated gender issues, Byatt combines history with narrative, which accords well with Hayden White’s historical narrative that fictive history can unveil historical truth. Additionally, Byatt’s three levels of historical narratives echo Giambattista Vico’s cycle of history to reveal the recurring gender issues in human history. In this respect, this study investigates how Byatt uses historical narratives to examine gender dilemmas of men and women to explore how characters free themselves from their gendered travails. In conclusion, Byatt employs historical narratives to reveal the recurring gender dilemmas and gender opposition in the history of human development. Meanwhile, Byatt is seeking a new type of gender relations in the cycle of human history as well—it is androgyny that liberates men and women from the limitation of defined gender roles and dissolves gendered conflicts to realize the union between body and soul in men and women.

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