“I would have to be mad to leave this bed.” A Female Heterotopia of Self-confinement in Sue Townsend’s The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year

Keywords: Sue Townsend, The Woman who Went to Bed for a Year, heterotopía, confinement, feminism and literature

Abstract

What happens when a woman, housewife and mother, decides to take to her room and stay in bed for a whole year? This scarcely plausible proposition opens the last published work by the late British author Sue Townsend. This paper aims to explain the main coordinates of the narrative by using Foucault’s concept of heterotopia; an effective, theoretical tool when applied to the analysis of a contained, physical space which is eventually turned into a site of contestation by means of the protagonist’s self-imposed confinement. This implies further questioning on the degree of agency she displays within her environment and, in addition, raises doubts about whether the novel responds to a feminist stance on the part of the author or to a literary depiction of her unavoidable withdrawal from the outside world due to her personal circumstances.

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Published
09/11/2021
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