Gender and Violence in Toni Morrison’s A Mercy, Elena Ferrante’s Tetralogy My Brilliant Friend and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus

Aida Džiho-Šator, Amela Džiho-Hidović


This paper explores the portrayal of violence and gender in its relation to different historical periods, countries, cultures, and religions. The aim is to determine the role these different aspects have in forming of characters’ identities and more specifically how it is all related to gender. The research will focus on Toni Morrison’s A Mercy, Elena Ferrante’s Tetralogy My Brilliant Friend, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus. All three novels, regardless of the different periods they fictionalize and discuss, and the literature they belong to, are connected by the captivating darkness that runs deeply through their fictional fiber and portrays the horrible conditions and struggles women have to go through because of the violence they were succumbed to, but also the violence they have to resort to to survive and even thrive in the ever-changing, but always firmly men’s world. Morrison’s novel is set in the early stages of the slave trade in America when racial, religious, and class tensions were just beginning to form, Ferrante’s tetralogy focuses on the post-WWII Italy, poverty-stricken and violent neighborhoods of the outskirts of Naples, and Purple Hibiscus is set in postcolonial Nigeria, a country struggling with political instability and economic difficulties. All three authors with their respective novels render vibrant pictures of the lives of young girls and grown women, mothers, daughters, and friends, across times, countries, but also classes, that offer plenty of space for comparative research focusing on the presence and role of violence in their lives.


gender; violence; Morrison; Ferrante; Adichie

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