30.1 | Marta Miquel-Baldellou

Disrupting Dictates of Gender and Ageing through Creativity: Daphne du Maurier’s Writing Persona in The Breaking Point


In her collection The Breaking Point (1959), Daphne du Maurier gives rise to a series of short stories which feature ageing characters facing a critical period in their lives, that subvert traditional dictates of gender and ageing. Du Maurier identified her writing persona in this later stage of creativity as “neither girl nor boy but disembodied spirit,” thus acknowledging how traditional cultural dictates could be blurred through creativity. This article explores the matrix of ageing, gender, and creativity with respect to du Maurier’s stories “The Alibi,” “The Menace,” and “The Chamois” in order to describe her writing persona at this particular moment of creativity, especially through feminist critic Betty Friedan’s precepts in her book The Fountain of Age (1993). Friedan argues that a gender-role crossover often takes place in the years following parenthood, as men and women adopt qualities that they felt required to suppress years earlier in order to fulfil their respective culturally-assigned gender roles.