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An Analysis of the Female Violence in Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye

Author ZuoZhengRong
Tutor ZhangShuNing
School Guangxi Normal University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Margaret Atwood Cat’s Eye female violence patriarchal system
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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Margaret Atwood (1939-) is a well-known Canadian writer who is famous for her prolificacy and wide coverage of genres in literary creation. She is expert at poetry, novels, short stories and literary critics. Her works have received many awards, such as British Booker Prize and Canadian Governor General’s Award, etc; and she was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 2003. Atwood is very much concerned about the social conditions and women’s fate of her time. The proportions of her novels present the readers the crisis that women faced and their sufferings in the contemporary world. Of many of her excellent novels, Cat’s Eye is the most typical and representative one.Cat’s Eye is Atwood’s seventh novel, which is considered as "Atwood’s most empathetic work" and crowned as "Atwood’s most artistically accomplished novel thus far". Literary critics on this novel have covered the angles of post-colonialism, intertextuality, bildungsroman, postmodernism and psychoanalysis etc. Feminism is also a popular perspective in literary review, which focuses on female bodies, female narrations and female friendships etc. This thesis aims to analyze the theme of female violence in Cat’s Eye. Violence is destructive; however, it can help people to realize the nature of women’s tragic lives. Female violence, which is opposite to the traditional supportive theme in women’s writings, is a special angle that Atwood chooses to express her feminist idea.This thesis consists of five chapters. Chapter one gives a brief introduction to Atwood’s life and her works, makes a literary review to the novel and has a brief review to feminist criticism. Chapter one also traces the two factors causing her writing violence:one is the social factor—women’s liberation movement and the other is the personal factor—her childhood reading. Chapter one also gives definitions and classifications to female violence. Female violence in this thesis could be divided into three categories:psychological, physical and self-directed violence.Chapter two deals with the female violence aiming at other women, which includes Mrs. Smeath’s psychological violence to Elaine, psychological and physical violence conducted by Cordelia to Elaine and Elaine’s revenge on both of them.Chapter three presents the self-directed violence that the protagonists conduct to themselves.Chapter four is about the journey that Elaine goes and how she delivers the forgiveness to Mrs. Smeath and Cordelia, and thus revealing the roots of their violent behaviors.Chapter five is the conclusion, which concludes the above-analyzed parts and reiterates the thesis statement—Atwood, through the description of female violence in Cat’s Eye, reveals its deep root and criticizes the trauma caused by the patriarchal system. Atwood is not a passive feminist. She believes that women can survive and live a better life in the society if they work hard to search for their subjectivities.

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