Essay - Dreams of Trespass Effects of Physical and Psychological Boundaries in...

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Dreams of Trespass

Effects of Physical and Psychological Boundaries in Fatima Mernissi's Dreams of Trespass

In her memoir Dreams ***** Trespass (1994) Fatima Mernissi recalls her cloistered childhood within the walls of a modern-day harem in Fez, Morocco. In reading this memoir, several key questions come to mind, having to do especially with issues of boundaries, physical and psychological within the harem like the one of *****'s *****. These are (1) how did living ***** ***** boundaries ***** a *****, impact Fatima Mernissi's psychological development as an au*****nomous human being (*****, by *****sociation, that of ot***** harem children); (2) does a female living within the boundaries of a ***** harem seek to rebel more actively against ***** rules, and authority in general, than would a ***** n***** raised within such boundaries; (3) ***** does harem life inflect one's perception(s) and underst*****ing ***** the world outside; and (4) why do harems survive, ***** in some instances thrive, in ***** parts of the *****, while in other parts of the world, they are rare, if not ext*****ct? Within this essay, I will explicate several chapters of the text, and then try to answer these questions, based on my reading ***** Mernissi's Dreams of Trespass.

***** Chapters 1 through 3 of Dreams ***** *****, Fatima Mernissi speaks often of the boundaries ***** ***** inside a h*****rem in Fez, *****, where she was born ***** 1940, and spent her formative years. As Mernissi states at the beginning of Chapter 1, for example:

When Allah created ***** earth, said father, he separated men from wo*****, and put a sea between Muslims and Christians for a reason. Harmony exists w*****n each group respects the prescribed limits of ***** other; trespassing leads only ***** sorrow and unhappiness. But *****men dreamed of ***** all the time. The world beyond the gate was *****ir obsession. They [emphasis fantasized all day long about parading in unfamiliar streets... [***** added] (pp. *****-2).

Moreover, as Mernissi rec*****s, childhood "***** happy because the frontiers were crystal clear" (p. 3).

However, beyond *****, harem women seem to yearn for knowledge and understanding ***** ***** ***** beyond. That which remains **********, in fact, particularly when limits on 'trespassing" ***** the harem are strictly proscribed, grows ***** compelling to the imaginati***** ***** more it is forbidden or off-limits. *****'s mother, for *****, yearns to walk the streets of Fez, alone, in ***** early morning hours, just to know what this is like. Clearly, ***** life for women, presents a dilemma between the safety and security ***** the freedom of the world outside.

Mernissi begins Chapter 3 ***** stating that "Our house gate was a definite hudud, or frontier, because you needed permission to step in or out" (p. 21).

Because of that boundary, safety inside was assured. Still, the allure of the unknown w*****ld beckons. And ***** all women, even close family members, are as constrained. Grandmother Yasmina, for example, the author's maternal grandmother, "lived on a beautiful farm with cows and *****ep and endless fields


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