A New Ontology for the Female Subject: The Rise of the Flat Character in Stories by Solvej Balle and Kirsten Thorup
ABSTRACT: This paper examines the way the literary convention of the “flat-character” is re-imagined, in Kirsten Thorup’s story “Crazy Marie” and Solvej Balle’s “Alette V.,” as a feminist trope that disrupts modern fiction’s clichéd representations of female characters. The flat-character, a term coined by E.M. Forster, is an undeveloped figure designated to embody “a single idea or quality.” Based on the poetics of Erin Mouré that theorize the preposition as the woman’s sign: “because in the language it has no power, & can’t exist alone,” the essay compares the value of the flat character in the hierarchical organization of the story to the place women have occupied in social and literary discourse. By shifting our focus to the power structures at work in language and the laws of art, the female flat character becomes more complex: she now works as a disruptive liminal figure between female stereotypes and multiple representations of female subjectivity.
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Copyright (c) 2005 Thea Bowering
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