Anna Wulf, Doris Lessing's protagonist in The Golden Notebook, often appears to be a character who both seeks and enjoys thorough self-definition. She divides her life into four notebooks, each one representing a separate section of her history, personality, or character, as a means of creating order in her supposedly chaotic world. Despite this enjoyment of self-definition, Anna is less willing to be defined by others, such as when she must take on both the role of Michael's lover and of Janet's mother. She describes a feeling of tension regarding her various duties as "the housewife's disease," a sentiment which eventually develops into a male-directed resentment. If Anna does not adopt these roles, however, she is at a loss as to who or what she truly is. She then constructs the housewife's disease in order to help herself, in addition to her character, Ella, and her friend, Molly, self-define, particularly during the times when they feel misunderstood by their romantic partners. The resentment which stems from the housewife's disease may not be a desirable goal, but it is the only way Anna can connect to other women. Therefore, the disease is a necessary evil because it serves as the link between Anna and her female companions, allowing her to realize the truth of her situation, even if she may not ultimately alter her response to it.
Wilkinson '07, Anne
"An Exploding Bomb: Self-Definition and the Housewife's Disease in Lessing's The Golden Notebook,"
The Delta: Vol. 2
, Article 8.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.iwu.edu/delta/vol2/iss1/8