Unchaste Desires: Gender- and Identity-Related Disquiet in Monica Ali’s <I>Brick Lane</I>


  • Wigati Dyah Prasasti


This paper examines how patriarchal conduct in a Bangladeshi immigrant family living in London portrayed in Monica Ali’s Brick Lane (2003) has stimulated the unchaste desires of the main female character, Nazneen – a religious and culture-obedient wife and mother. When she needed to actualise herself as part of her journey to signify her identity, her husband played a dominant role in selecting a job perceived to be suitable for a housewife with limited knowledge about the world. As a devoted wife holding tightly to her religious and indigenous cultural values, she respected her husband’s decision by accepting the sewing job he settled on which could be carried out without necessarily leaving the house. This choice of work, the decision taken by the paterfamilias, unexpectedly brought her to a most romantic sexual experience. I argue that the decision has resulted in new complexities. The job sparked an affair, which introduced her to both an imagined world of romanticism and a horrific world of unchastity. The complex feeling of disquiet and helplessness at becoming affectionately involved with a young man supposed to be her business partner consequently shook her identity as a woman, a wife, a mother, a believer, and, in a diasporic sphere, an immigrant who upheld Bangladeshi customs and traditions.


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How to Cite

Prasasti, W. D. (2018). Unchaste Desires: Gender- and Identity-Related Disquiet in Monica Ali’s &lt;I&gt;Brick Lane&lt;/I&gt;. Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 12(1), 78–92. Retrieved from https://journals.iium.edu.my/asiatic/index.php/ajell/article/view/1210



Section II: Articles and Interviews on Bangladeshi Writing in English