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 read*****g this *****, 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 childhood. These are (1) how did living within ***** ***** of a *****, impact Fatima Mernissi's psychological development as an au*****nomous human being (and, by association, that ***** other h*****m children); (2) does a female living within the boundaries of a ***** h*****rem seek to rebel more actively against harem rules, and authority in general, than would a ***** not raised ***** such *****; (3) how ***** 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 world, while in other parts ***** 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 of Mernissi's Dreams of Trespass.

***** Chapters 1 through ***** of ***** of Trespass, Fatima Mernissi speaks *****ten of the boundaries of life inside a harem in Fez, Morocco, where she was born ***** 1940, and spent her formative years. As Mernissi states at the beginning of Chapter 1, for example:

When Allah created the earth, said fa*****r, 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 of the o*****r; trespassing leads only to sorrow and unhappiness. But ***** 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. 1-2).

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

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

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

***** of that boundary, safety inside was assured. Still, ***** allure of the unknown world beckons. And not all women, even close family members, are as constrained. Grandmother Yasmina, ***** example, the author's maternal grandmother, "lived on a beautiful farm with cows and sheep ***** endless fields

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