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Steinbeck’s East of Eden: Redefining the Evil within Cathy Ames

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East of Eden, published in 1952, has been criticized as both feminist and misogynistic in nature. This contrasting criticism can be attributed to the varied interpretations of female roles in the novel. This paper aims to examine East of Eden using feminist and archetypal theory. Archetypal theory studies roles characters play through fundamental and inherited symbols. These symbols are thematic associations that are common to humanity in general. Feminist theory analyzes texts based on how power is manipulated to establish the dominance or subordination of either gender. In particular, feminist theory studies how females claim, assert or subvert power for themselves. Coupled together, the theories seek to understand how established conventions influence the female experience. By analyzing the intersection between the roles portrayed by the women in the Salinas Valley and societal expectations, this paper intends to explore the influence of tradition on decision making.


International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences (Volume 82)
B. Saputra, "Steinbeck’s East of Eden: Redefining the Evil within Cathy Ames", International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, Vol. 82, pp. 19-23, 2018
Online since:
June 2018

[1] J. Steinbeck, East of Eden, Penguin, New York, (2002).

[2] B.A. Heavilin, Steinbeck's Exploration of Good and Evil: Structural and Thematic Unity in East of Eden, in: East of Eden - John Steinbeck, Chelsea House, (2015).

[3] M.R. Gladstein, The Strong Female Principle of Good—or Evil: The Women of East of Eden, Steinbeck Quarterly. 24(1-2) (1991) 30–40.

[4] C.L. Hansen, Beyond Evil: Cathy and Cal in East of Eden, in: D.R. Noble (Ed.), Critical Insights: John Steinbeck, 1st ed., Salem Press, Pasadena, Calif., 2011, sec. 3, p.310–319.

[5] M. Gladstein, Steinbeck's Dysfunctional Families: A Coast-to-Coast Dilemma, The Steinbeck Review. 3.(1) (2006) 35–52.


[6] S. Mostafaei, E. Shabanirad, A Feminist Reading of East of Eden by John Steinbeck, International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences. 63 (2015) 145–150.


[7] J. Steinbeck, Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters, Penguin, London, England, (2001).

[8] J.J. Cohen, Monster Culture (Seven Theses), in: Monster Theory: Reading Culture, 1st ed. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1997, ch. 1, sec. 1, pp.3-25.


[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Collins, (2012).

[10] I. Murray, J. Merrilees, East of Eden, New Blackfriars. 53(622) (1972) 130–135.


[11] C. Tasca et al., Women And Hysteria In The History Of Mental Health, Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health. 8 (2012) 110–119.

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