An examination of female characterisation in a selection of the novels and short stories of William Trevor through the lens of Simone de Beauvoir
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This thesis aims to examine female characterisation in a selection of William Trevor’s novels and short stories. The core argument in this thesis will be to demonstrate that Trevor, in his portrayal of women, presents a profoundly ethical dimension to his readers. A broad spectrum of his female characters, from a variety of narratives that span a period of nearly fifty years, will be analysed in order to demonstrate that Trevor, in his portrayal of women, conveys an enormous respect and understanding of how their lives are shaped. To substantiate the ethical dimension in Trevor’s fiction, the theoretical lens of Simone de Beauvoir will be employed. Trevor’s claim that the two things that really interest him are life and people finds endless correlations in existential philosophy; a philosophy that is concerned primarily with the concept of what it is to exist in the world and with how to live a meaningful life. This thesis will offer a fecund examination of the lives of female characters that will reveal the implications of de Beauvoir’s intensive examination of women’s lives and will demonstrate the capability of Trevor to grasp the divergence of the female experience from the male experience. Throughout the thesis, the breadth of Trevor’s writerly curiosity will emerge repeatedly through endlessly diverse stories that transport the reader into an array of different fictional worlds. His narrative mastery facilitates compelling characters, situations and themes that demand engagement and reflection.
Simone de Beauvoir