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Spacial Narratives and Feminine Themes in A Woman on a Roof

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DOI: 10.23977/langl.2024.070428 | Downloads: 2 | Views: 117


Wang Qin 1


1 Inner Mongolia University, Hohhot, 010010, China

Corresponding Author

Wang Qin


A Woman on a Roof is a short story written by British female writer Doris Lessing. Known for her portrayal of strong, independent female characters and her depiction of complex relationships and social dynamics, Lessing has been hailed as the greatest female writer since Virginia Woolf and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007. A Woman on a Roof, setting during a June heatwave in 1960s London and adopting a third-person omniscient point of view, tells the story of three underclass male maintenance workers and an unnamed noble woman on a roof over the course of seven days. This novel provokes popular thinking about gender roles and the objectification of women in society by critiquing patriarchal attitudes and power relations. With the help of spatial narrative theory, this thesis analyzes topographical space, social space, textual space, and mental space in A Woman on a Roof so as to show the oppression of woman on different levels and her fight for freedom. In topographical space, the novel reveals a huge gap between the upper class and the lower class. Besides, the scope of activity of the unnamed woman is confined to the roof while the male workers are involved in spatial transitions. In social space, although gender and class seem to form a "balance", woman is confined to men's observation and evaluation, and is unable to truly express herself. In textual space, the novel highlights the reality of woman's marginalization through the contrast between round and flat characters and the linear narrative structure. In mental space, the novel constructs both male mental space and female mental space. The naked woman serves as a driving force for male workers to improve themselves and achieve the construction of their mental space. The woman's nudity and silence embody her pursuit of a free mental space. Through the above analysis, the thesis aims to give a better understanding of gender relations and power dynamics, and makes a call for the importance of gender equality and female autonomy.


A Woman on a Roof; Spatial Narrative; Feminine Themes


Wang Qin, Spacial Narratives and Feminine Themes in A Woman on a Roof. Lecture Notes on Language and Literature (2024) Vol. 7: 190-197. DOI:


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