Margaret Atwood Margaret Atwood is an acclaimed poet, novelist, and short story writer. With such a variety of works in different types of writing, it is difficult to grasp every aspect of Atwood’s purpose of writing. A comparative analysis of Rape Fantasies reveals the Atwood’s writing is varied in many ways yet soundly consistent especially when comparing a particular set of writing such as a group of her other short stories. Atwood’s background plays a large part in her writing. Atwood was born in Ottawa, Canada in 1913. Her father was an entomologist, so she spent much of her childhood in the wilderness and other various urban places around Canada.
Throughout her life, she lived in numerous Canadian residences as well as several towns in the United States. She has also lived in England, France, Italy and Germany. With this extensive background, Atwood displays a vast knowledge of the world around her, although large portions of her writing are based on Canadian settings. As a young girl, she started reading many books and even writing poems and comics. After deciding that she wanted to become a writer, Atwood attended the University of Toronto and earned her bachelor’s degree in 1961. Following this, she went on to receiver her master’s degree from Harvard University. Since 1961, Atwood has produced a highly acclaimed body of work that includes fiction, poetry and literary criticism.
Atwood published her first volume of poems, Double Persephone, in 1961 (Toronto), followed by many more throughout the next three decades, interspersed with novels, including The Edible Woman, Surfacing, Lady Oracle, Life Before Man, Bodily Harm, The Handmaids Tale and The Robber Bride. (Contemporary Literary Criticism, 48). Among Atwood’s extensive list of writing, it is important to note the handful of short fiction that she has published. Her most recent collection of short fiction is titled “Good Bones” which was published in 1992. Some other significant short fiction works include “Wilderness Tips”, “Bluebeards Egg”, “Murder in The Dark”, and “Dancing Girls”.
All together Margaret Atwood’s major published pieces total over forty. For a majority of these works, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards. Canada’s highest literary honor, the Governor General’s Award, was awarded to Atwood for her poetry collection “The Circle Game” in 1967. She received the award again in 1986 for her novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. Another significant work that has won Atwood a number of awards are Cat’s Eye, which is a novel that Atwood produced in 1988. Her large amount of awards proves to her readers that she is a good writer.
By looking at a portion of these other works, short stories in particular, it is easy to compare a majority of her work and conclude that her writing of Rape Fantasies is typical of the work that she normally produces. In general, Atwood’s literary reputation for subject matter, themes and style are recognizable with the other work that she produces. In her short stories, she follows a few basics, but usually has one significant underlying meaning. The subject matter of Atwood’s works usually focuses on either relationships or power, perhaps sometimes both. The relationships in her short stories are either male to female or female-to-female. Atwood’s writing has a strong focal point on human relationships.
Atwood consistently uses relationships to develop her stories. “In her novels, Margaret Atwood creates situations in which women burdened by the rules and inequalities of their societies, discover that they must reconstruct braver, self reliant personae in order to survive” (Goldblatt 276). In one of Atwood’s short stories, “Uncles”, the author presents the relationships that a young girl has with her uncles. The bond, although slightly unusual, is closer with her uncles rather than her aunts. The uncles are important to the girl because of the loss of her father.
She needs the male bonding that she lacks from her father, so she gets this through her uncles. Atwood often portrays women as dependent on men. This is such the case in “Uncles”. Even after her uncles are gone, the protagonist meets a man at her workplace. Although at first, it seems like she might overcome him, he gets the best of her and begins to make her wonder if she were much of a woman.
Another important element in the subject matter of Margaret Atwood’s writing is the power struggles between men and women. Most of the main characters in Atwood’s writing are having some kind of conflict at one point of the story. In most of the stories, the women might start out just fine, but by the end of the story, they have had to face one or more power struggle situation. Often the background of the female in Atwood’s writing suggests an unhealthy questionable one. They might come from weak or unhealthy families that give off a sense of unsupportiveness.
It is often apparent that Atwood’s female characters are threatened by the roles that they are expected to play in society, either wife or mother. If they don’t fulfill these roles, they usually have internal conflicts about these roles that they should be in. The themes of Atwood’s writings are also significant when trying to understand how the author usually writes. Some of the noteworthy themes that she tends to follow are the significance of eating and oral communication. Both of these themes offer the protagonist a source of power.
One of the more prominent themes of Atwood’s work is the significance that eating plays on the main characters. A large amount of work that is done by Atwood at least mentions some sort of eating. Whether it is just grabbing a bite to eat, or actually focusing a whole scene around eating, Atwood tends to work this theme into her stories. “By writing about women and food, Atwood exposes one of the most subtle and subconscious ways in which power operates (Bouson 232). Often times these eating scenes in Atwood’s stories are surrounded by conversation. The oral communication theme is prevalent in many of the short stories by Atwood. It appears that the majority of heated discussions occur over some sort of food.
Women have always been socially aware of eating. It was not always acceptable for a woman to eat in public, back centuries ago; the women were looked down upon for eating. Atwood stresses this factor into almost all of her works. It is an important factor in the role that the women of today’s society now play a part of instead of watching. A third element to characterize Margaret Atwood by is her style of writing.
Atwood is consistent in using both symbols and metaphors in her writing. Another technique that she often uses is to have the characters carry on a normal conversation, without any explanation in the middle. What the reader knows is what is said during the conversation. The symbols and metaphors that Atwood uses are consistent throughout her writing. As Bouson states, “Atwood has developed further the literary convention of language as surfaces and depths, as a palimpsest which hides what it means, and she has toyed with the deceptive devices of rhetoric and figures of speech, especially metaphors, as essential to language (230). Atwood’s “Rape Fantasies” is a good example of all the techniques mentioned above that is concurrent with her normal subject matter, themes, and style. “Rape Fantasies” starts out with a group of women sitting around their lunchroom playing bridge as usual, while eating their lunch. One of the ladies mentions a magazine article that talks about how every woman has them ..
rape fantasies. This gets the women in an uproar. For a few minutes, they do not say anything. Finally, one of them opens up to the rest of them as to what her fantasy would be like. The women begin to share what they think are their rape fantasies. Each woman’s idea of how her rape would take place is humorous.
The main character ends up sharing her main thoughts on the whole idea and how some of her fantasies have been. The story ends with a comment on how women could overc …