The contested tombs: an ecofeminist analysis of Ursula K. Le Guin’s character Tenar
Jimeno Ruiz de Larrinaga, Alba
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The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin is frequently mentioned in discussions of fantasy literature, not only for the relevance it has narratively and as a saga, but also because thematically it deals with topics inherent to what make us human. The Cycle also gives the reader a view into the development of the author’s ideology and views, due to the almost forty years of writing they encompass, views that are heavily reflected on Tenar the main protagonist of various novels, who was introduced in The Tombs of Atuan and further developed in Tehanu. I contend that one of the key elements to show Tenar’s development in these two novels is her relationship to the space she occupies, which ends up leading to a radical change in the power structures cemented on Earthsea. For that purpose, I not only analyse Tenar’s journey, but elements that disrupt said spaces, be it other characters, like Ged and Therru, or dragons; delving into their relationship with Tenar and how they also aid in her development and search of self. For this purpose, said analysis will be performed through an ecofeminist lens, borrowing elements from feminist studies of gothic spaces to also comment on the characteristics that make one of the most relevant environments—the labyrinth beneath the Tombs—feel like a living being. The outcome of this dissertation being that the Tombs act as an ambivalent space, which empty Tenar of her self to later on feature as a heavy factor on its restoration. The depiction of organisms of power that disrupt the balance in between humanity and nature should also be acknowledged, as this lack of balance later on leads to the systematic oppression of those in vulnerable positions, like Tenar. This last factor being one of the keys to why more narratives, that show slow but effective quests for self, without neglecting to address the difficulty to conform an oppressive state of being, should be encouraged to proliferate.