The female fatale archetype in elechi amadi's the concubine and ferdinand oyono's hosueboy
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The femme fatale concept has been there from time immemorial especially in Western culture. It is a male construct that stereotypes women, thereby perpetuating male dominance. This study, using the qualitative method, looks at the representation of the femme fatale in Western culture and in African culture, focusing on the treatment of the femme fatale in two novels: Houseboy and The Concubine, comparing their similarities and differences. The findings in the representation of the femme fatale in Western culture show her as beautiful, attractive, intelligent, mysterious, subversive, double-crossing, unloving, predatory, tongue-sweet, unreliable, irresponsible and manipulative, at times a femme vampire who is extremely dangerous. In African culture her image has been equally mystified. She is a figure enriched by sensuality and luxury, depicted in powerful colours, with waist beads, lush fabrics, indigo, henna, patchouli, and nipple tassels. Glamour is her uniform. The African femme fatale is accused of witchcraft and murder. Although the findings in the two texts show that the femme fatale (literally, the woman who brings death) exists in the African literary tradition, there are crucial differences from the modern and contemporary Western examples. The traditional African femme fatale is given strange, mystical, mythological and supernatural attributes like the ancient Greek Medusa or Circe. Meanwhile Ihuoma in The Concubine, although her association with the sea and water links her to the ‘mammy wata’, a figure in West African tradition, she is not conscious of her fatal power but is ostensibly a good, well-behaved and innocent village woman. In Houseboy, Madame’s mysterious power lies in the fact that she is Toundi’s boss and therefore has power over him. Toundi has a fascination for this older yet attractive, sexually active white woman who cheats on her husband, and this fatal attraction and fascination stem from his childhood experiences.
University of Zambia
Master of Arts in Literature.