Abstract

Metaphors for culturally “banned” emotions such as prolonged anger reveal what is at stake, politically, in representing human emotions. Expressions such as “clinging,” “holding on,” and “letting go” refer to bodily experiences, but they also deliver ideological impact, validating some people’s emotional experiences while dismissing those of others. To examine the ways that human physiology and cultural ideology combine in emotion metaphors, this study compares the representations of jilted women’s emotions in Virgil’s Aeneid, Rudyard Kipling’s “The Phantom Rickshaw,” and Siri Hustvedt’s The Summer without Men. The study draws on John Bowlby’s theory of attachment, Lisa Feldman Barrett’s conceptual act theory of emotions, and Sara Ahmed’s and Sianne Ngai’s cultural criticism of the ways emotions are represented in political writing and literary fiction. The essay argues that metaphors for culturally discouraged emotions—such refusing to “move on”—perform a hegemonic function. By making those less powerful feel ashamed of their anger, emotion metaphors may work to suppress cries against injustice.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6520
Print ISSN
1063-1801
Pages
pp. 303-329
Launched on MUSE
2016-09-06
Open Access
No
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