International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

An Epistolary Novel Revisited: Alice Walker’s Womanist Parody of Richardson’s Clarissa
Dina Muhammad El-Hindi

Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple use the epistolary form to directly tap into the psychology of the characters without the intervention of society’s restrictions on voicing taboo events, feelings or thoughts. Richardson’s use of this ‘bourgeois’ novel portrayed the inhibited desires of lovers to each other or to their confidants. However, Walker’s novel is a womanist parody of Clarissa; she uses letter-writing to give voice to the double oppression of the African-American female and her personal and emotion emancipation. The comparison will highlight how both novels allowed females to find a ‘voice’. Although Richardson is a male author, his use of the genre allowed him to highlight women’s issues. Walker, on the other hand, does not give her protagonist a ‘voice’ symbolize her isolation, oppression as a female and oppression as an African-American.

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