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Publisher Description

In The Blind Assassin (NY: Anchor Books, 2004), Margaret Atwood tells the story of five generations of Canadian women who find alternatives to the oppressive rules imposed by their husbands and fathers. Constrained by a patriarchal mentality, which reduces women to mere puppets, Atwood's protagonists imitate patriarchal discourses and submit themselves to patriarchal laws to expose the contestable nature of these laws. Their parody of masculine models results as an effect of the strong relationships with the other women in their family. It is through these connections among women that female characters are successful at subverting patriarchal models. When Iris looks at her grandparents' portrait taken shortly after their wedding, she sees the tension and discomfort of their marriage. Although she never meets her grandmother, Iris understands the difficulties of arranged marriages and the status of her grandmother as hostess, household manager, and obedient wife with "no money of her own" (60). While assuming the patriarchal role of the submissive wife, grandmother Adelia found an outlet in architecture, interior design, and art. She decorates the house in an artistic fashion and expresses her individuality. Not only are her sculptures, decorations, and poems on Christmas cards Adelia's means of self-expression, but they also mediate her communication with future generations. Although their grandmother dies before they were born, Iris and Laura are the products of her silent but decisive education and are modeled after their grandmother's taste and subtle messages about marriage. The marble Medusa over the fireplace suggests a dangerous femininity that can disturb patriarchal structures.

Professional & Technical
May 1
Notes on Contemporary Literature
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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