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


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Dreams of Trespass

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

***** her memoir Dreams of Trespass (1994) Fatima Mernissi recalls her cloistered childhood with***** 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 ***** harem like the one of ***** *****. These are (1) how did living ***** the boundaries ***** a *****, impact Fatima Mernissi's psychological development as an autonomous human being (and, by *****sociation, that of ot***** h*****m 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 female not raised within such *****; (3) ***** does harem life inflect one's perception(s) and underst*****ing to the world outside; and (4) why do harems survive, ***** in some instances thrive, in some parts of the world, while in other parts of the *****, ********** are rare, if not extinct? 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 ***** ***** *****, ***** Mernissi speaks often of the boundaries of ***** 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 the earth, said father, he separated men from women, and put a sea between Muslims and Christians for a reason. Harmony exists when each group respects the prescribed limits ***** ***** other; trespassing leads only to sorrow and unhappiness. But women dreamed of ***** all the time. The world beyond the gate was their obsession. They [emphasis fantasized all day long about parading in unfamiliar streets... [emphasis added] (pp. *****-2).

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

However, beyond *****, harem ***** seem to yearn for knowledge and understanding ***** the ***** beyond. That which remains mysterious, in fact, particularly ***** limits on 'trespassing" ***** the harem are strictly proscribed, grows ***** compelling to the imagination ***** more it is forbidden or off-lim*****s. Mernissi's mother, for *****, yearns 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 ***** safety and security ***** the freedom of the world outside.

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

Because of that boundary, safety inside was assured. Still, the allure of the unknown world beckons. And not 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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