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A Gendered Reading for the Character of Psyche in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses

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image of Mnemosyne

AbstractIn analyses of the Cupid and Psyche story from Apuleius’ Metamorphoses, scholars have been faced with the issue of explaining the presence of a prominent female character. The usual response has been to interpret Psyche symbolically, either as a mirror of the male character Lucius and his journey, or as an allegory for the Soul’s journey or for the myth of Isis. However, this approach of turning Psyche into an abstract symbol negates the very substance of the issue, namely her femaleness. By foregrounding Psyche’s gender and making a reading of the text specifically for aspects of her femaleness, her nature and character in relation to marriage and family is revealed as a dominant theme, and a key motivating factor for much of the action of the narrative. Fully understanding and acknowledging this allows not only for new and more integrated interpretations of Psyche, but also opens avenues of exploration for the interpretation of other characters in the novel.

Affiliations: 1: University of PretoriaSouth Africasusan.haskins@up.ac.za

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/content/journals/10.1163/1568525x-12341201
2014-03-31
2016-12-05

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