Doris Lessing Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

What are the aspects of characterization employed by Doris Lessing? Apply to The Black Madonna by Doris Lessing if possible.

Expert Answers info

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write5,917 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Business

Doris Lessing, a British novelist who was raised and lived as an adult in Rhodesia, has very deliberate designs in the characterizations in her novels. Lessing wishes her characters to examine their dreams; their nightmares; the social realities around them; the political realities around them; to discuss their observations; to adjust to reality or to create a new reality. Lessing moved to London, England in 1949 with her first manuscript The Grass Is Singing in hand. Her novels often expose the racial issues she encountered in Rhodesia.

The objective of Lessing's art of characterization is to illustrate that a reality in flux, existences in flux, can not be labeled and compartmentalized as the native Rhodesian were labeled and compartmentalized as being nonhuman, or at best subhuman, and fit only for menial labor or menial domestic service. Lessing reveals characters personality, character traits and psychology (emotions and thoughts), spanning fears, contradictions and desires. Through these details, Lessing draws her characters in not only relation to other characters and the characters' social sphere but also in relation to political and economic realities as well, going even further in relating her characters to the planet and the entire cosmos and finally bringing the relationships full circle to the metaphysical question of the meaning of existence.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial