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Versions of the Gothic in Margaret Atwood's fiction


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Friesen, Gail Frances 1990 , 'Versions of the Gothic in Margaret Atwood's fiction', Unspecified thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis discusses chronologically, the adaptation and transformation of the
Gothic in four of Margaret Atwood's novels, namely Surfacing, Lady
Oracle, Bodily Harm and The Handmaid's Tale. Atwood's versions of the
gothic run the gamut from serious to comical but even while parodying the
conventions of the gothic, and exposing the 'perils of gothic thinking',
Atwood never loses sight of the underlying seriousness of the subject.
While there are elements of the female gothic experience throughout the
four novels, each presents a specific gothic focus. Atwood concentrates on
the psychological victimisation of the individual in Surfacing and Lady
Oracle, but on the more literal victimisation by society in Bodily Harm and
The Handmaid's Tale. The heroines who are psychologically imprisoned
within a negative self image in the first two novels are literally imprisoned in
the later novels. And whereas the heroines of Surfacing and Lady Oracle
transform the ordinary world into a gothic one through the power of the
imagination, the heroines of Bodily Harm and The Handmaid's Tale are
subjected to the much more horrifying reality of political oppression.
Atwood's exploration of the complex issue of victimisation illustrates a
basic ambivalence towards the gothic, for while it might be one of the best
ways of embodying female fears, it is ultimately a destructive model.
Essential to Atwood's discussion is the question of complicity. In varying
degrees, Atwood's heroines are responsible for their predicaments.

There are echoes of Atwood's ideas about Canadian identity in her heroines
— an identity shaped by the dominating landscape. The early heroine of
Surfacing, cold, detached, motherless and searching, is transformed through
the novels that follow into a stronger, more resilient and determined figure.

Item Type: Thesis - Unspecified
Authors/Creators:Friesen, Gail Frances
Keywords: Atwood, Margaret Eleanor, 1939-, Gothic revival (Literature), English fiction
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1990 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1993. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 101-106)

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