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

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

Within Chapters 1 through 3 of ***** ***** *****, ***** Mernissi speaks often of the boundaries ***** ***** inside a harem in Fez, Morocco, where she was born in 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 women, and put a sea between Muslims and Christians for a reason. Harmony exists w*****n each group respects the prescribed limits ***** ***** other; trespassing leads only to sorrow and unhappiness. But ***** dreamed of ***** all the time. The world beyond the gate was their obsession. They [emphasis fantasized ***** day long about parading in unfamiliar streets... [emphasis added] (pp. 1-2).

*****, as Mernissi recalls, ***** "***** ha*****y because the frontiers were crystal clear" (p. 3).

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

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

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


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