The Edible Woman Essay, Research Paper
Achieving Personal Identity in Atwood? s The Edible Woman
In the novel, The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood, the chief character Marian McAlpine establishes a well-integrated and balanced personality by rejecting the domination of societal conventions, and suppressing her ain passiveness. Through this procedure to self-awareness, Atwood uses imagination and symbolism to efficaciously parallel Marian? s journey and imitations to portray the functions of the? consuming? society.
As Marian bases at a polar point in her life, she examines and rejects the functions presented to her by society in order to accomplish self-knowledge. She is 26 old ages old with her instruction behind her. She has her first occupation every bit good as, her fellow Peter Wollander, who is the last unmarried man of his friends. Therefore, Marian begins to contemplate her hereafter and the type of adult female she will go. Working at Seymour Surveys for four months, she is eligible and obliged to lend a Pension Plan. Marian is forced to inspect her hereafter at the company. Atwood uses the image of an ice pick sandwich to stand for the construction of the company and it? s development of adult females. Merely work forces get the? upper crust? places on the top floor of the office edifice ; machines and their operators form a sort of modern slave labour on the bottom floor. ? The gooey bed in the center? ( p.12 ) is about wholly made up of adult females who are homemakers working for low wage in their trim clip. Marian can merely trust to go the caput or helper of her section like Mrs. Bogue, taking to a hereafter as a retired old maid. This function is the first she rejects.
Another option is presented in the three? office virgins? , a three of bleached blondes who represent society? s stereotype of a immature adult female. They intend to remain virgins till matrimony and travel before settling down. They dress femininely and wear disingenuous makeup which Atwood compares to a baited enticement for? famished as expressway? business communities. Marian is uncomfortable with the expression of these adult females and the stereotype they represent.
Marian besides explores the image of herself as a married woman and female parent, through her pregnant friend Clara. Atwood compares Clara to? a boa-constrictor who swallowed a water-melon? ( p.25 ) . Clara? s organic structure represents the manner in which a adult female? s organic structure can acquire out of control, if she allows nature to take its class. Clara, as Marian sees, is littering the universe with kids for no specific intent. Consequently, Clara becomes a vegetable unable to believe for herself or to concentrate. Marian culls Clara? s version of a adult female? s function because she thinks it is irresponsible and unstable.
A 4th option is her roomie, Ainsley, who represents the marauding female. Atwood characterises her as a combination of military general and inert vegetable growing. Ainsley secret plans to infuse her ego through Len Shank and raise the kid entirely, so subsequently tries to coerce him into matrimony. To Marian, Ainsley is far to ruling and immoral.
In rejection of these functions, Marian is left in an empty province and succumbs to irrational behaviors due to her deficiency of self-knowledge. Marian? s battle to Peter intensifies her anxiousnesss about the hereafter. Prior to his proposal, Marian hears a runing narrative of Peter? s ; he describes killing and gutting a coney. Irrationally, Marian feels a terror as in tense as a hunted animate being as she identifies with the coney. She runs from Peter, an action she does non understand. Atwood illustrates that she is afraid of going a victim of Peter? s, like the coney. Later that eventide, she hides under the couch bed in Len? s flat. Atwood nowadayss this irrational gesture of flight with overtones of a coney burrowing or the desire to return to an unsophisticated life of the uterus. Marian? s natural mechanisms of flight are conquered by Peter? s impulse as a marauder. Marian allows herself to be conquered, therefore following society? s outlooks of a adult female. Consequently, she accepts Peter proposal and says, ? I? vitamin D instead leave all the large determinations up to you? ( p.87 ) to the nuptials programs.
Marian? s battle identifies her
chief hindrance to an integrated personality: her inordinate passiveness. At work, she does things that are non portion of her occupation. At place, she lets Ainsley and the landlady intimidate her. She even cleans the bath for Ainsley so the landlady will non acquire huffy. She lets Peter state what to make and when to make it. For illustration ; she agrees to do love in the bath even through she finds it uncomfortable. Once Marian accepts Peter? s proposal, her personality splits ; a division, which Atwood shows through Marian? s switch from first individual to third individual.
As Marian? s personality dissolves, so does her appetency. Her inactive and irrational behavior leads her to get down rejecting certain nutrients get downing with meat, so eggs and eventually veggies. Marian begins to hold a pre-occupation with the action of eating. As Marian notices the manner Peter is cutting his meat she observes:
She watched the capable custodies keeping the knife and fork, sliting exactly with an exact accommodation of force per unit areas. Watching him run on the steak like that, carving a consecutive piece so spliting it into orderly regular hexahedrons, made her think of the diagram of the planned cow at the forepart of one of her cookery books: the cow with lines on it and labels to demo you from which portion of the cow all the different cuts were taken. She looked down at her ain half-eaten steak and all of a sudden saw it as a hunk of musculus. Blood ruddy. Part of a cow that had one time moved and ate and was killed. She set down her knife and fork. & # 8216 ; God, & # 8217 ; she thought to herself, & # 8216 ; I hope this International Relations and Security Network & # 8217 ; t lasting ; I & # 8217 ; ll hunger to decease! & # 8217 ; ( p.152 )
Her battle to Peter makes her identify with the things being consumed, an designation, which draws her to a secret relationship with the gaunt Ducan. This relationship farther splits her personality. Atwood symbolises her personality split with two dolls from Marian? s childhood. One half of her is represented by a blond-rubber doll that is pulled towards society and image of a pretty married woman for Peter. An older dark haired doll represents the other half of her, which is drawn off from society? s ideal towards the ameba like Ducan. Marian attempts to populate out each life, playing the? Florence Nightingale? on call sympathizer for Ducan and wearing a sequinned ruddy frock and luxuriant hair-do for Peter? s party.
Her life in the two functions is ended when she discovers the world of the two work forces, and in turn she discovers the truth about herself. At the party, she discovers Peter? s hidden ego, as? a murderous lunatic with deadly arm in his custodies? ( p.255 ) . She flees to Ducan where she discovers that he excessively, is portion of the victim marauder game. Ducan fast ones Marian into kiping with him by looking helpless. Marian realises he was non corrupted by her, but moving inexperienced person so she would give motherly attending. Once once more, she passively allowed a individual to pull strings her.
As a consequence, Marian comes to the realization that Peter is seeking to destruct her and Ducan is merely looking for attending. She decides to move and no longer be acted upon. She asserts herself by baking a sponge bar in the similitude of the? ideal? adult female. She serves it to Peter who considers her loony and runs off. Marian? s appetency returns and she eats the bar destructing the commercial image of society and going a whole individual. Atwood shows her integrating by restarting the text in first individual. She is back to where she began before her battle to Peter. She is capable of believing for herself and doing picks consequently. She has becomes self-conscious.
Marian achieves self-knowledge by asseverating against her passiveness and rejecting Atwood? s imitations of the functions of the underpaid worker, the ideal of muliebrity, the female parent married woman oppressed by her generative map, the over-aggressive marauder, the lover alienated by her emotions and the manipulated health professional. With her hereafter now on her home base, her journey has come full circle back to her? alleged world? where she can carve her ain fate.
Atwood, Margaret, The Edible Woman, Seal Books McClelland-Bantam, Inc. , 1978, p12, 25, 87, 152, 255.