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This paper explores the gender bias and resistance in Edna O’Brien’s Country Girls’ Trilogy. Writing fictional narratives that are set against mid-20th-century Irish patriarchal culture, O’Brien shows how her protagonist Caithleen both conforms to and rebels against the yoke imposed on modern Irish women. By discussing the different roles played by males and females in traditional Irish society, I investigate the ways in which Caithleen is ensnared within the intricate webs of patriarchal power relations from family, religion, and society and how the protagonist manages to unsettle the time-honored patriarchy peculiar to Irish society. Introduction and conclusion aside, this paper falls into four parts. Part one sets O’Brien’s female characters against the tradition of modern Irish women. Part two examines the intimidating father image by discussing a range of father figures in O’Brien’s trilogy. In part three, the connection between Irish women and the Catholic religion is illustrated. Part four further explains how O’Brien’s female characters suffer amid the patriarchal culture and how they endeavor to find their way out of patriarchy.

KEYWORDS: Edna O’Brien, Country Girls’ Trilogy, gender bias and resistance

摘 要

本文探討愛爾蘭女作家歐布萊恩小說《鄉村女孩三部 曲》中的性別偏見與抵抗。故事背景發生在二十世紀中期的 愛爾蘭,主要描述的是女主角凱撒琳飽受父權社會壓迫之 苦,以及她如何反抗性別偏見。論文從愛爾蘭傳統男女的 性別角色出發,思考女主角如何試圖在家庭、宗教、和社 會的父權體系當中,衝撞愛爾蘭行之以久的父權文化。除 了前言與結語之外,本文共計四個部分。第一部分從現代 愛爾蘭女性傳統的角度出發,探討歐布萊恩小說裡面的女 性角色。第二部分討論小說裡面不同的父權角色,藉以檢 視故事當中令人畏懼的父親形象。第三部分說明愛爾蘭女 性和天主宗教的關聯。最後一部分則進一步解釋小說中女 性在父權文化裡面遭遇的困境,以及女主角試圖跳脫限制 所作的努力。