”Motherhood without icing.” The Re-evaluation of the ‘Polish Mother’ icon
in contemporary literature, media texts and blogs
Polish woman-centred symbolism contains a specific dimension which is depicted as the icon
of the “Polish Mother” (Matka Polka). This iconic image is deeply rooted in Polish history
and culture, and it often refers to the mother of Jesus, as she is expected to sacrifice her
children for the motherland. As a woman, she realizes herself not only through motherhood
but also in service to her nation, and as such, she becomes a highly charged metaphor for both
motherly love and patriotism. The “Polish Mother” is a myth and stereotype that has shaped
the thinking of the nation for more than two centuries and is still largely in force. However, in
contemporary literature (and also various media texts and blogs), one can identify obvious
attempts to re-evaluate this very traditional iconic image. Motherhood in particular has gained
a new dimension in contemporary Poland. I investigate some of the most characteristic
aspects of the selected texts, focusing on the discrepancy between the old clichés and
expectations and the subversion of traditionally defined motherhood in a modern society
which no longer takes the “Polish Mother” at face value.
Department of Modern Languages, Uppsala University, 2016. no 57, 48-59 p.