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Texas Journal of Women and the Law




This article ultimately argues that the plot changes are not a cheap trick intended to manipulate the reader's emotions, but a feminist re-vision, which succeeds or not depending on the reader's critical feminist perspective. Thus, Part Two delineates several feminist stances, such as liberal feminism, radical feminism, social feminism, and postmodern feminism, and summarizes the plot changes Smiley has imposed on King Lear. Part Three considers one major plot change - the longing for the mother - in terms of patriarchy's suppression of a maternal genealogy and feminine language. This part argues that the novel successfully demonstrates the difficulty in overthrowing patriarchal suppression in order to create the woman-centered experience that feminists such as Luce Irigaray and Adrienne Rich describe.

Part Four considers another major plot change - the incest by the father - in terms of patriarchy's suppression of feminine reality. Smiley's re-vision succeeds by providing a voice for silenced feminine perspectives, and although some readers might consider the incest theme a cheap trick because it manipulates readers' emotions, this part provides several responses to that accusation. On one hand, Smiley's re-vision is not unlike Shakespeare's own re-vision of the folklore motif and historical Leir story. Smiley's re-vision is driven by a feminist purpose to demonstrate women's vulnerability to patriarchal violence. This part argues that from the viewpoint of radical feminism, Smiley's re-vision successfully contrasts dominant reality with suppressed feminine reality, and in the end of the novel, provides an alternative discourse that allows the primary female characters to. subvert the patriarchal view. But on the other hand, from the viewpoint of postmodern feminism, Smiley's re-vision does not successfully reclaim feminine sexuality, or jouissance. Rather, the shame of incest cannot be overcome.

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University of Texas at Austin School of Law

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