Pregnancy, Illness, and Violence : The Power Discourses of Motherhood in Mary Morrissy's Mother of Pearl
Oster, Rebecca Renae
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This paper aims to explore the connection between the power structures of religion and medicine within Mary Morrissy's Mother of Pearl. Morrissy's text explores the ways in which women are oppressed by the Irish construct of perfect motherhood, which stems from the internalized social control exemplified in the religious and cultural expectations of women. Morrissy's text points out that a woman's national and individual identity is directly defined by her role as a mother and a religious figure. Morrissy's text critiques this construct and shows it to be unattainable as the power structures create a new form of oppression that continues to mandate the mother construct through bodily control. The connection between these power structures is exemplified through the geographical and political borders of Ireland as well as the physical borders of women's bodies. The medical power structure physically invades women's bodies and leaves them scarred, marked, and dependent on the construct for any identity. Morrissy's text critiques this impossible standard and a culture's tendency to perpetuate the myth of perfect motherhood within the ideological community.