Added: April 4, 2015 – Last updated: April 4, 2015


Author: Ann Wan-lih Chang

Title: A Woman Alone

Subtitle: The Depictions of Spinsters in Irish Women's Short Stories

Journal: Estudios Irlandeses: Electronic Journal of the Spanish Association for Irish Studies (AEDEI)

Volume: -

Issue: 10

Year: March 2015

Pages: 44-57

ISSN: 1699-311X – Find a Library: Open Access Journal

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | Irish History | Representations: Literature / Emma Cooke


Link: Estudios Irlandeses (Free Access)


Abstract: »This paper focuses on the manner in which single women are represented in contemporary Irish women’s short stories. Typically in these stories, such women are portrayed as a distinctive social group within a society in which a traditionally negative image of the spinster has been reinforced by a dominant social ideology which has as objective the exertion of social control over women. Contemporary Irish female writers attempt to ridicule this problematic “single-woman phobia” by demonstrating that this phenomenon is actually the result of women’s “selflessness” rather than the “selfishness” associated with the spinster stereotype. Irish women’s stories demonstrate also a fundamental unfairness inherent within Irish society in which women are compelled to sacrifice their own lives and needs for the benefit of others by assuming a surrogate mothering role as “social mothers”. Ironically, this paradox acts as the main obstacle preventing Irish spinsters from fulfilling their roles as wives and biological mothers. In response, Irish female writers de-demonise the witchlike spinster stereotypes by deconstructing through their narratives those paradoxical social norms which have actually nurtured and reinforced negative perceptions of the “single women” within Irish society.« (Source: Estudios Irlandeses)


  Abstract (p. 44)
  Resumen (p. 44)
  Introduction (p. 45)
  Spinsters as Odd, Neurotic or Evil Caricatures (p. 46)
  Spinsters as Social Outcasts and Monsters in Irish Women's Stories (p. 48)
  Spinsters as Social Mothers (p. 52)
  Conclusion (p. 55)
  Works Cited (p. 56)