The Edible Woman Essay Research Paper Achieving

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The Edible Woman Essay, Research Paper Achieving Personal Identity in Atwood?s The Edible Woman In the novel, The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood, the principal character Marian McAlpine establishes a well-integrated and balanced personality by rejecting the domination of social conventions, and conquering her own passivity. Through this process to self-awareness, Atwood uses imagery and symbolism to effectively parallel Marian?s journey and caricatures to portray the roles of the ?consuming? society. As Marian stands at a pivotal point in her life, she examines and rejects the roles presented to her by society in order to achieve self-knowledge. She is 26 years old with her education behind her. She has her first job as well as, her boyfriend Peter Wollander, who is the last

bachelor of his friends. Thus, Marian begins to contemplate her future and the type of woman she will become. Working at Seymour Surveys for four months, she is eligible and obliged to contribute a Pension Plan. Marian is forced to inspect her future at the company. Atwood uses the image of an ice cream sandwich to represent the structure of the company and it?s exploitation of women. Only men get the ?upper crust? positions on the top floor of the office building; machines and their operators form a kind of modern slave labour on the bottom floor. ?The gooey layer in the middle?(p.12) is almost entirely made up of women who are housewives working for low pay in their spare time. Marian can only hope to become the head or assistant of her department like Mrs. Bogue, leading to a

future as a retired spinster. This role is the first she rejects. Another option is presented in the three ?office virgins?, a trio of dyed blondes who represent society?s stereotype of a young woman. They intend to stay virgins till marriage and travel before settling down. They dress femininely and wear artful make-up which Atwood compares to a baited lure for ?ravenous as pike? businessmen. Marian is uncomfortable with the look of these women and the stereotype they represent. Marian also explores the image of herself as a wife and mother, through her pregnant friend Clara. Atwood compares Clara to ? a boa-constrictor who swallowed a water-melon?(p.25). Clara?s body represents the way in which a woman?s body can get out of control, if she allows nature to take its course.

Clara, as Marian sees, is littering the world with children for no specific purpose. Consequently, Clara becomes a vegetable unable to think for herself or to concentrate. Marian rejects Clara?s version of a woman?s role because she thinks it is irresponsible and precarious. A fourth alternative is her roommate, Ainsley, who represents the predatory female. Atwood characterises her as a combination of military general and inert vegetable growth. Ainsley plots to impregnate her self through Len Shank and raise the child alone, then later tries to force him into marriage. To Marian, Ainsley is far to dominating and immoral. In rejection of these roles, Marian is left in an empty state and succumbs to irrational behaviour due to her lack of self-knowledge. Marian?s engagement to

Peter intensifies her anxieties about the future. Prior to his proposal, Marian hears a hunting story of Peter?s; he describes killing and gutting a rabbit. Irrationally, Marian feels a panic as in tense as a hunted animal as she identifies with the rabbit. She runs from Peter, an action she does not understand. Atwood illustrates that she is afraid of becoming a victim of Peter?s, like the rabbit. Later that evening, she hides under the sofa bed in Len?s apartment. Atwood presents this irrational gesture of escape with overtones of a rabbit burrowing or the desire to return to an uncomplicated life of the womb. Marian?s instinctive mechanisms of escape are conquered by Peter?s urge as a predator. Marian allows herself to be conquered, thus following society?s expectations of a