Spanning forty years apart, the short story “Miss Sophia’s Diary” (1926) by Ding Ling and The Bell Jar (1963) by Sylvia Plath can speak to one another in revealing the position of women in a revolutionary new era. The two stories may be generationally and geographically distant, yet both hold a collective female consciousness in the context of the emerging modernist epoch. By examining these two pieces of literature in relation to one another, similar attitudes and stylistic trends emerge regarding the treatment of women. The common archetypes, for each respective time and country, imprinted onto women are at some points accepted but also rejected in these two female-focused stories. In disregarding many of the traits associated with the modern woman, Ling and Plath mold a unique feminine persona to capture the essence of what a true woman can and should be. Not only does the likeness of the works contribute in establishing a global feminist ideal, it is in the differences where cultural and generational attitudes can be investigated. What the pillar of feminism represented in early 1920s China differs significantly from 1950s United States of America. Though these differences can be signs of progression for woman’s rights, there are many of the same anxieties surrounding women that have lingered on for decades. This thesis will conduct a comparative study on how the “Miss Sophia’s Diary” and The Bell Jar posses the unique variations of the modern woman. Furthermore, with the use of a web-based corpus analysis program, this thesis sets out to probe selections from both works linguistically. Doing so will uphold a clearer image as to each texts’ word associations when discussing women and can further reveal how the construction of each female persona compares to one another. Overall, this thesis dismantles borders of both time and space to expose the true meaning behind the modern woman’s role in a largely demeaning and patriarchal world.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Hardesty, Isabella, "A Transnational Look at the Modern Women" (2020). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 711.