Cannibalism, Fertility, and the Role of Food in Margaret Artwood’s The Edible Woman

Stevan Mijomanović

Abstract


Today we live in a world full of various temptations and sensations leading us away from ourselves. We change our Self in order to comply with society and in the process we become the Other. This paper explores how Margaret Atwood perceives the search for one’s identity and the pressure of societal roles that lead to this loss of identity. The main character in the novel The Edible Woman, Marian, goes on a conflicting journey during which she rejects herself, muses about her environment and her role in it, and tries to grasp her essence, which has become elusive. Atwood uses food imagery to portray Marian’s inner battles. In this paper we explore the implications that this food imagery has both on Marian and the contemporary reader. Atwood argues that this book is “protofeminist”, yet from the prism of contemporaneity it can be read as feminist. However, the scope of this novel stretches to other concepts relevant to the present day: obsession with ‘size zero’, following the latest trends, living in the fast lane, etc.; these concepts are depicted through metaphorical extensions such as cannibalism and fertility. Atwood masterfully sets the stage where she explores how these concepts influence an individual to the extent where one uses mimicry to fit the regulations of a capitalistic society, thus becoming almost the same but not quite (Homi Bhabha, 1984), i.e. colonization of the Self leading to an unfulfilled Other.

Keywords


postcolonial discourse, cannibalism, fertility, food symbolism, the Other

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References


Atwood, M. The Edible Woman, 1969. London: Virago Press, 1980.

Bhabha, H. Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1984.

Kerskens, Ch. Escaping the Labyrinth of Deception: A Postcolonial Approach to Margaret Atwood’s Novels Volume I. Phd diss., Universite Libre de Bruxelles, 2007.

Lahikainen, J. "You look delicious": food, eating, and hunger in Margaret Atwood's novels. University of Jyväskylä, 2007.

McWilliams, E. “Margaret Atwood’s Canadian hunger artist: Postcolonial appetites in the edible woman.” Kunapipi 28, 2 (2014).

Williams-Forson, Psyche, and Carole Counihan ed. Taking Food Public: Redefining Foodways in a Changing World. Berkeley: The College at Brockport, 2013.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25038/am.v0i10.135

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