Deconstructing Without Realizing

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From Eagleton’s Chapter 4 on Post-Structuralism:

“Structuralism was generally satisfied if it could carve up a text into binary oppositions (high/low, light/dark, Nature/Culture and so on) and expose the logic of their working.  Deconstruction tries to show how such oppositions, in order to hold themselves in place, are sometimes betrayed into inverting or collapsing themselves, or need to banish to the text’s margins certain niggling details which can be made to return and plague them” (115-6). 

For once (since Eagleton’s introduction), I think I actually understood the chapter.  In general, Eagleton includes so many ideas which are totally new to me and the chapters are so long that I soon become confused.  But this one, for once, was ok.  I wouldn’t say I agree with post-structuralism.  I mean it seems almost pointless to me to analyze a text so carefully and then to conclude that there is no determinate meaning in it and everything about it is contradictory. 

However, at the same time, I can certainly see how it is possible to find these contradictions.  I picked the quote that I did because when I read it, it made me realize that what I was doing on Derek’s blog was almost a sort of deconstructionism.  As Derek summarized Gilbert and Gubar’s article about how houses represented female imprisonment from men, I was thinking of examples in literature which proved the opposite.  I thought of how women can imprison women, how a woman can entrap herself, and how men can also be trapped by houses.  In this way, I was observing the “certain niggling details” which Gilbert and Gubar “banish to the text’s margins.”  After all, they used Jane Eyre as an example, yet didn’t consider the full complexity of what the houses in the story could be twisted into representing.    

Read more on Eagleton. 

2 Comments

Good entry, Greta. I've posed this question on three blogs now hoping to get different responses but why post-structuralism? What is the point of tearing down a structure the author works so hard to build up? I can see doing this with criticism now by looking at your example, but why literature? I'm mossing some piece in the puzzle that is post-structuralism.

Greta Carroll said:

Hey Angela, I did my best to answer your question on your blog entry. You can check it out here:
http://blogs.setonhill.edu/AngelaPalumbo/2009/03/eagletons_description_of_post-.html

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