Gender in "A Stone Woman": How A.S. Byatt Uses Symbolism to Explore Women's Innate Connection to Nature




Turner, Francesca Marie

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This project examines A.S. Byatt’s short story, “A Stone Woman,” as she portrays the main character’s innate connection to nature through a journey from humanity to a life of stone. This intrinsic connection is shown through symbolism and implies that women have a deeper understanding of how nature interacts with itself and its separate parts. The Icelandic folklore referenced in “A Stone Woman” centers around trolls: creatures of stone that embody volcanic and mountainous landscapes. The use of this folklore strategically shows how women, in essence, are nature, and therefore facilitates Ines’s transition into a more natural state. Her transition of moving to a natural landscape provides a form of elemental homecoming for her. Through this homecoming, women, especially in times of extreme stress and immeasurable loss, can escape trauma by discovering their primal form to find true acceptance and freedom. This project will examine several themes of “A Stone Woman” to reveal how this narrative addresses the inherent connection between women and nature which facilitates an elemental homecoming. The first of these themes is the physical component of Ines’s transformation. Ines undergoes a strenuous physical change as every aspect of her body is affected by her change of state. Each of the changes that she experiences provides her with a tool to help her discover her new self and her new life. The next theme is the psychological component of Ines’s transformation. She experiences many varied emotions throughout her transformation as she begins with a sense of panic and reluctance as she enters this new stage of her life and eventually finds freedom and acceptance at the end of her transformation. The last theme covers the new perspective that Ines acquires throughout her transformation. Ines acquires a new perspective on herself, the creatures she encounters, and the weather’s effect on her environment. This is due to the Icelandic background of her guide, Thorsteinn, the transformation altering her current senses, and her newfound acceptance of her sense of self and her body. “A Stone Woman” employs these themes to show how women are innately connected to nature through their understanding of the natural world and their primal origin.



literature, short story, gender, women, stone, nature, Iceland, folklore, transformation, journey, stone woman, trolls, Honors College


Turner, F. M. (2021). Gender in "A Stone Woman": How A.S. Byatt uses symbolism to explore women's innate connection to nature (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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