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Female Relationships and Rivalry in Literature

            Throughout the ages, literature has revolved around the personal relationships between people. The relationships between women have evolved throughout the ages possibly as a result of the transformations of society as these texts explore; The Shakespearean era where only men were allowed to act, the Victorian era in which everything must be prim and proper and women should still do their work as a mother and wife to the Post Modern era in which women are free to express themselves in the same way that men are. All three chosen texts explore these relationships differently; Jane Eyre's close friendship with Helen, Jeanette's amorous tryst with Melanie and the apparent hatred between Tamora and Lavinia. In order to fully understand these relationships we must reach beyond the words and into the mind of the writer. .
             Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit deals with the relationship breakdown between mother and daughter. Written by Jeanette Winterson in 1985, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a Bildungsroman novel. Winterson plays on the Bildungsroman style as traditionally this style includes a realist narrative, however Jeanette's development combines realist and fantasy. Normally the Bildungsroman is decisive; contrastingly Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit remains open and ambiguous as Jeanette wishes to be saved by 'a woman in another place' and this possibility leaves the novel in a state of limbo because the reader doesn't know if she finds it. There is no conclusive ending like in Jane Eyre when she becomes married and lives 'happily ever after' so to speak. The novel follows the development of Jeanette as she grows up and makes the decision that she is a lesbian and this causes uproar in the family home and in church as her highly religious mother regards this as a sin thus resulting in the breakdown of the relationship. Jeanette explains that after she told her mother they 'hardly spoke[n]' and she later describes her mother to have 'vacantly passed [her] a plate of biscuits.

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