Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 13:6 June 2013
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.
         G. Baskaran, Ph.D.
         L. Ramamoorthy, Ph.D.
Assistant Managing Editor: Swarna Thirumalai, M.A.


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Subversion of Identity in Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride

Ms Shaista Irshad, M.A., Ph.D. Candidate
Prof. Niroj Banerji, Ph.D.

The Robber Bride

Margaret Atwood’s novel The Robber Bride (1993) is a postmodern work of fiction which explores and unravels gender as a socio-cultural construct. It deals with how society and culture imprison both men and women into constructed stereotypes of masculinity and femininity attributing both men and women gender specific traits. The novel not only questions essentialist notion of gender identities as fixed and stable but also challenges the differences attributed to men and women owing to their biological sex. These biological differences in sex construct the gap between men and women’s position in patriarchal society- exalting men’s status and marginalizing women.

Grimm’s Fairy Tale - The Robber Bridegroom

The novel is the reversed version of Grimms’ Fairy Tale’s The Robber Bridegroom. The title is subverted by Atwood to The Robber Bride to elucidate and prove the hollowness, artificiality and instability of gender identity. Grimm’s Fairy Tale - The Robber Bridegroom is about a robber who was a ‘man-eater’ and trapped women in the name of marriage and murdered them to consume their flesh. In her novel Atwood constructs female character- Zenia as a robber bride, a ‘man-eater’ and a trickster who embodies and represents the traits not only of femininity but also those that are exclusively associated with masculinity. The trickster figure can be defined in literature and legend usually as, “a male, (who) crosses boundaries, disrupts the social order, and embodies contradiction. He is a shape-changer and a liar” (Stein 143). It is emphasized through the character of Zenia that, “the contradictions within the construct of the body, contradictions so acute that they may well make it impossible for anyone to be the sexed woman of conventional representation” (Hite 123). It is through the character of Zenia, that gender identity comes out to be a “dynamic matrix of interrelated, often contradictory, experiences, strategies, styles and attributions mediated by cultures and one’s specific history, forming a network that cannot be separated meaningfully into discrete entities or ordered into a hierarchy” (Garland Thompson 284).

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Ms Shaista Irshad, M.A., Ph.D.
Visiting Faculty
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Motilal Nehru National institute of Technology

Professor Niroj Banerji, Ph.D.
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology

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