Feminism is the belief and advocacy of equal rights for woman. This belief is shown through Margaret Atwood’s works, although she doesn’t believe so “Every time you write from the point of view of a woman, people say it’s feminist. ” Critics all of the world disagree with her and say that Atwood’s novels are blatantly feministic. Margaret Atwood uses time, male chauvinism, and jealousy to display her belief that women aren’t treated fairly, yet they deserve to be. Atwood’s mute female roles create the setting for her In Atwood’s works, time is vital is showing that her feminist beliefs sets the outline in which she displays that belief.
Atwood sets them in the past by using other works of actual events to create details and a sense of realism. She not only sets this in the past, but she uses the characters past to make readers understand more about decisions that they make. By using these techniques Atwood lays out the basis for her feministic novels. Margaret Atwood herself is a modern woman, so to relate to her characters she makes them modern. She set her modern characters in past setting to make us believe that feminism remains a problem in present day society. The way that her characters are seen as modern is the way they think and talk, their language.
Because of this modern way of living, Atwood’s characters do not seem to fit in that well in the society that they were thrown into. They seem to believe that it is uncommon for them to be treated so badly. Such in the case as Penelope from The Penelopiad, she is surprised when she arrives at Ithaca and isn’t automatically accepted or treated like a queen. She was very much alone in Ithaca, mainly because Odysseus didn’t even want her there with him. The mindset of women eventually changed, where they developed ambitions and dreams, but that mindset did not develop until after the time period that Margaret Atwood wrote her novels in.
Although, her female character have those ambitions “She wanted to make a name for herself. She longed to stand out from the heard. ” By showing that her characters have that mindset, Atwood not only shows that they are modern women, but it shows that they are striving to change the world and to become something of themselves. They want to be more than just a wife or mother. The also were very risky in terms of keeping up the image of that perfect housewife “I considered it prudent not to take any risk” (37) Penelope remains a good example for the type of women that didn’t exist in those time periods such as 1200 B.
C. or the 1800’s. The use of allusions is an important factor in making Atwood’s books more realistic. To believe that people would be so close-minded in present day is harder then believing that people in the past would be. Atwood would not have been able to create her stories without the use of allusions, nor would she be able to create the style that she is most prized for. For Alias Grace, Atwood conducts research into Grace Marks’ case and finds alternate accounts of the 1834 murders “ I have not changed any of the known facts although the known facts are so contradictory that few emerge as equivocally ‘known’. Margaret Atwood herself admits to making up the lost details from the past events or the missing points from other works. In The Handmaid’s Tale, it seems like Atwood is taking many situations from history and turning them into what would have happened, and what would have happened turned society into a robot world where no one is happy. In Margaret Atwood’s novels, destiny plays a major role in controlling the character’s actions. They were always destined to be in the situations that they end up in and they spent their whole lives preparing for that situation.
Men were meant to become the leaders and women were to be kept in the shadows, but Atwood purposefully changes those destinies for her characters. In the societies built around Atwood’s novels, women are destined from birth to become a certain attribute in the world. Such as in the case of The Handmaid’s Tale, women are destined to become only six things, wives, daughters, handmaids, aunts, marthas, or econowives, they never had the choice of being anything else.
In Margaret Atwood’s novels, the characters try to change each other’s destiny, but will find out that no one can change one’s destiny. “He who could master the hearts of men and their secrets is well on their way to mastering the fates and controlling the thread of his own destiny, not that any man could really do that, not even the Gods” (43) the characters of The Penelopiad believe heavily that the fates control what happens in their life, especially the bad things, and are well aware that they cannot change each other’s destiny.
Margaret Atwood’s societies are chauvinistic to show that there was no universal law on how to behave towards other people. Her male dominated, male chauvinistic societies add emphasis to her belief of feminism. Through male chauvinism, the sanctity of marriage or of other relationships is dissolved. Men seem to be allowed to commit adultery while women are expected to remain loyal. When women are unfaithful to their spouses they endure ridiculous consequences, which when men are unfaithful either nothing happens or they are prized for their conquest.
Women are not even allowed to really complain about their husband’s infidelity, or no anything about it. These wives end up feeling very alone, such as Penelope, she started weaving her shroud because she was alone, but then she wove it to stay alone. Penelope went through many difficult relationships, her time apart from Odysseus, and the memory of her father trying to kill her. She’s not the only one with daddy issues, Iris also suffered through abuse from her father, she was sold to the man she married, Richard, by her father to gain more control of his business.
Men are often coerced into marriage with the promise of money or stature. Although political marriages are a common thing, the one case of a political marriage within Margaret Atwood’s novels Rape will become a theme within the works of Margaret Atwood because men can easily take advantage of a woman, especially when they’re in vulnerable situations. Through the ages men have treated women like possessions, such as Telemachus from The Penelopiad, he believed that her possessed the maids since they were kids, and in the end took their lives.
This belief of possession of women is the same in all her novels; men always believe that they have some sort of power over the women that they should love. These same men will make those women fall in love with them and then snatch that love away from them by becoming consistently unreliable. In Alias Grace, the men that are supposed to be taking care of Grace prove to take every opportunity to take advantage of her, with “inconsistences at the asylum,” and by wording certain things funny, to display inconspicuously that Atwood believes that all men are capable of rape.