Margaret Atwood

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.

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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 …

Margaret Atwood

.. ome another one of the social problems that they face by getting a conversation going with someone who is intending on raping you. Atwood appears to be making a comment on the strength of women and how she thinks that a society could be changed just by talking. The subject matter of “Rape Fantasies” is parallel with that of her other works. The most important factor is the relationships between male and female.

The female relationships in “Fantasies” are very close. Atwood makes the women seem like they have a tight enough bond to be talking about rape together, yet they do not know each other well enough that they will not talk behind the others back. The flow of conversation that Atwood uses in this particular story is an attribute to the story. When women are together, they tend to ramble on or interrupt each other, just as they do here. Each of the women, over their lunch is willing to open themselves up to the other women by admitting that they have had these fantasies, and just how they had perceived the time when they were going to be raped. The male relationships with females are another important factor in this story.

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None of the women actually mentions having a friendship with a male, but most of the rape fantasies are about a man that could be the woman’s friend. If the fantasies are not friendly, then Atwood makes sure to have the woman overpower the male or make the man look like a fool. In one of the fantasies, Estelle, the main character says, “I feel so sorry for him, in my rape fantasies, I always end up feeling sorry for the guy, I mean there has to be something wrong with them .. ” (“Fantasies” 249). Atwood displays in her story how important it is that women are now thought of as equals rather than just a secondary to men.

Although most of the time Atwood displays her female characters as uncomfortable, unstable and innocent, she usually has them pull through the rough times to prevail on the other end of the story. The second characteristic of Atwood’s writing that is noticeable in “Rape Fantasies” is her use of specific themes. The major theme is the importance of eating. Almost the entire story is based around the ladies’ discussion during their lunch break. This fact, from the beginning shows the strength of all the women. Atwood has her own way of showing which women were weaker within the group. Through Estelle’s words, Atwood describes each of the women, what they look like, their age, and what they eat.

It is important in understanding the women to know what they eat. When Estelle describes each of the women, she also includes what they were eating. In Atwood’s first novel, The Edible Woman, one of the central ideas is that women are defined by their culture as passive objects for male consumption (Bouson 231). By allowing the women of her text to eat, she not only shows that they are not going to be overlooked as something for men to consume, but they are on the same level as the men, doing everything, perhaps even more than a male might pursue. Oral communication, like in many other works by Atwood, is present in “Rape Fantasies”.

A major way for the females to bond is by simply talking to one another. Atwood also suggests that if the females in the story communicate with the males that they would not be able to rape them, if they had any heart at all. The females communication with each other is also another way to show that women wish to have a voice too. They are tired of letting the men do all the talking, and they are ready to be heard too. One of the most powerful themes in “Rape Fantasies” is the power of women over men.

Although Atwood shows this in some of her other stories, it plays a major part in this particular story. By the end of the story, when Estelle is telling about the different “fantasies” that she has had, the whole idea behind rape is not the prevailing idea of the story. Estelle in each instance that Atwood gives is either equal to or better than the man that intended to rape her. At one point in reading the story, a reader could almost get the impression that Atwood is making a mockery of rape. The whole idea of rape is played off as if it is a very natural thing.

There is a very serious underlying meaning to the whole idea of the way rape is portrayed that is best portrayed by the way the story begins: “The way they’re going on about it in the magazines you’d think it was just invented” (“Fantasies” 244). Atwood is very clever in the way she addresses serious issues in her writing, yet keeps it comfortable enough to get a laugh out of simply by reading. Most of her writing does have a serious issue that goes hand in hand, with what the story ultimately deals with. Although Atwood is not as consistent with her last technique, “Rape Fantasies” can still be compared to her other works. The use of symbols and metaphors is important.

Turbide suggests, “in her [Atwood] novels eating is employed as a metaphor for power and is used as an extremely subtle means of examining the relationship between woman and man” (45). Atwood mostly uses metaphors in this particular instance when she is describing the males of the story. Her use of symbols and metaphors are much more present in some of her other significant works. The one consistent thing about this story is the way it is told. Almost like a stream of consciousness, but not quite.

The narrator, Estelle, is telling her story to someone else, and she blurts out the whole story, including every thought she had about the other women’s fantasies. She does not stop to allow the listener to ask questions, she just keeps right on going until she finishes. The conversational way in which the story is presented makes it comfortable for the reader. It just flows as a normal conversation would. Atwood’s writing is typically produced in this fashion.

Her short stories in particular are easy to read, because they flow just like people having a conversation. Overall, a comparative analysis of Margaret Atwood’s works, short stories in particular can lead to the conclusion the through the use of repeated subject matter, themes, and style, Atwood can allow her readers to become more involved in her writing. She typically follows her own style of writing. When comparing her subject matter between “Rape Fantasies” and her other works, certain aspects can be obtained. The relationships between male and female are important. Atwood stresses the ability to be able to compare males to females in an equal sense.

The further society progresses in this equal frame of mind, the more critics are agreeing with Atwood’s writing. With Atwood’s other works, “Rape Fantasies” is a good comparative analysis in trying to figure out if it is consistent with her other writings. It would be easy to take this essay the complete opposite direction. Atwood, although she has many elements of writing that make it easy to compare her works, she also has a broad spectrum of work that would be just as easily contrasting to her norm. Some elements that allowed for a comparative essay are female protagonist, eating and the justification behind it, power struggles, and the ever-present relationships between both male and female and female-to female.

Margaret Atwood offers no ending to the underlying question that she poses throughout the short story, “Rape Fantasies”, of whether a man could rape a woman if she were to strike up a conversation with him. She leaves that entirely up to the woman to decide. Most of her writing will deal with a social problem, yet never offer any sort of solution. Atwood likes to write about social afflictions that cause an unequal attitude between men and women. Overall, a comparative analysis of Atwood’s works have proven that she does consistently use similar subject matter, themes, and style to express her feelings and complete her stories.

“Rape Fantasies” was written in Atwood’s typical framework for which she has written other pieces, but it is very possible to also prove that “Rape Fantasies” is in a category of it’s own. English Essays.