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Early in the novel Atwood presents us with the division between ladies and women

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Introduction

"Margaret Atwood's late 20th century perspective on her female characters invites us to see them as victims of a male dominated society" Is this how you respond to Atwood's presentation of her female characters? Early in the novel Atwood presents us with the division between ladies and women. The example given is Grace compared to the governor's wife and the ladies who frequently visit her. It seems that grace wishes that she was a lady when she comments "I have no gloves" this shows that Grace is conscious of her appearance even if she is in prison. Grace cannot sit on the governor's wife's settee without thinking of the ladies that have sat there before her who have bums "like wobbly soft boiled eggs". These ladies are compared to jellyfish that grace has seen in her childhood, Grace shows admiration for these ladies ass he says "they were bell shaped and ruffled" Atwood also makes the point through grace that ladies of this time were restricted. ...read more.

Middle

It was not uncommon at the time for women to be murderesses, as the reader finds out when the governess's scrap book is brought to our attention. Scrapbooks are hobbies for ladies of the time. Miss Lydia and Miss Marianne "put all kinds of things into their albums, little scraps of cloth from their dress." The governess's is very different it has "all the famous criminals in it" The governess's scrap book is also an example of Victorian hypocrisy, whereby things are covered up by glossing over them in this case it is covered in fancy decoration. It is also made clear that the governess only holds this position because of her husband "she would prefer the governor to be the governor of something other than a prison" in this matter she has no choice as her husband is only where he is because of his friends. ...read more.

Conclusion

Graces mother and aunt are very much victims of a male dominated society, more so graces mother who "had married beneath her" Grace's aunt had used the situation to her advantage and married so she was well off. Grace's mother only married because she had to "my mother was very fortunate in that my father did agree to marry her" she had be grateful, because in society she would be frowned upon for being pregnant and not married Perhaps the only character in the novel who is not a victim of a male dominated society is Dr Jordan's mother who "sees herself living in reduced circumstances" but in reality she is not in such a desperate situation as Mrs Humphrey. But is in fact reduced compared to how she used to live. She had also used the social situation to hear advantage she married for money "she traded her family name and connections for a heap of coins fresh from the mint" ...read more.

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