• First Language: English

  • Subjects:  Women’s Studies

  • Journal Section: Research Article

  • Authors: Emine Şentürk

  • Dates: 30 May 2024

This essay critically examines the transformation of the protagonist, Ruth Patchett, in Fay Weldon’s novel The Life and Loves of a She Devil (1983). The transformation that Ruth undergoes can be viewed in two ways: both in terms of her role in society and her physical appearance. Initially a submissive housewife, Ruth evolves into an independent businesswoman who undergoes extensive cosmetic procedures to conform to prevailing beauty standards. This article reveals, through an analysis of Ruth’s liberation from traditional domestic obligations and her response to societal constructs of beauty, the marginalization she experiences as a result of her deviation from societal norms. Ruth’s rebellion against the idealized attributes of a housewife reflects her pursuit of qualities associated with appealing femininity. Hence, this article highlights how Ruth transforms herself into a seductive object of the male gaze to remake herself into a powerful subject. Through this transformative journey, the article elucidates the interplay between societal ideals of beauty, female liberation, and implications on personal fulfilment. Although Ruth’s transformation into the ‘ideal’ woman endorses the patriarchal codes of ideal and standardised beauty, this essay argues that the same transformation reverses the process to reveal how female empowerment can be achieved through the manipulation of standards.

beauty confinement liberation transformation The Life and Loves of a She Devil

Emine Şentürk