Into the Darkest Corner: The Importance of Addressing Factor-Based Particularity in Relation to Domestic Violence Experiences in Post-Modern Literary Theory

Reem Atiyat


This paper investigates how a survivor of a violent marital relationship could awaken and take positive counteraction against her oppressive husband, rather than remaining entrapped in a state of ‘learned helplessness’. The central contribution of this paper lies in highlighting particularity rather than sameness when investigating how oppression and male domination could function as factors that trigger positive counteraction and lead to the liberation of the silenced protagonist in Elizabeth Haynes’ novel Into the Darkest Corner. The model highlighted for the purpose of examination is Catherine, the protagonist of Elizabeth Haynes’ novel Into the Darkest Corner. The paper mainly focuses on addressing two questions ‘What are the protagonist’s violence experiences?’ and ‘What are the factors that served to reinforce and prolong the protagonist’s oppressive marriage?’. The struggle of the protagonist to put an end to her abusive marriage, and how she managed to overpower her post-traumatic stress disorder experience constitute the focal point of this paper, and are explored from a feminist psychoanalytical perspective, a task that has not been addressed in the available literature on domestic violence in relation to feminist and psychoanalytic criticism up to date. In order to investigate these aspects in the novel, this paper draws on the views of post-modern feminist literary theory. This literary approach is crucial to highlighting the gender-based inequality imposed on the protagonist by her abusive husband throughout the novel. The analytical approach followed in this paper is that of thematic analysis. The paper mainly highlights the recurrent themes of physical violence and post-traumatic stress disorder. Then, the paper examines the content of the novel to support the argument about the association between post-traumatic stress disorder and liberation. Thus, three main issues are addressed: Domestic violence types and definitions, feminist theoretical views in relation to male domination, and notions of post-traumatic stress disorder in relation to liberation in feminist post-modern literary criticism. The main argument in this paper is that post-traumatic stress disorder is not an introductory psychological phase that paves the way for learned helplessness. Rather, it is a state imposed by male domination and control that could be challenged, controlled and directed to lead to liberation from male authority and oppression with the availability of proper assistance.


Domestic Violence, Feminist Criticism, Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS), Literary Trauma, PTSD.

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