The Edible Woman Essay Research Paper The

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The Edible Woman Essay, Research Paper The Self of women, of Marian Mc Alpin s time the 1960 s, is reduced to purchasable goods. The beauty of women is celebrated in terms of the riches that are comparable to her: her eyes are blue sapphires; her brow is ivory; and her lips are ruby. She is not only available for sale, but also for consumption: her skin is white as milk; her lips are sweet as honey. This consumer emphasis in the novel peaks when Marian transmutes into the truest feminine stereotype by donning a flashy red dress and painting her face with many layers of cosmetics. She has done this at her fianc , Peter s request to dress better than usual at his party that night. Marian begins to fear that this new guise is a change that Peter wants to make permanent. Women in

the sixties were only just emerging from their self-accepted role in the house, and men had not yet realised that women were their equals. This party is the breaking point for Marian. She rebels against what she believes to be Peter s image of the female stereotype with a cleansing ritual in which she portrays herself as edible. Marian s impression is that Peter would delight in her being edible because destroying and consuming her would be faster and easier for him. Marian Mc Alpin s experience is an example of what women have to fight against and deal with in a male-dominated society that women perpetuate by continuing to submit to the female stereotype. The novel concentrates mainly on consumerism, feminism, stereotyping and rebellion. Marian may seem at first to be an

extraordinary woman, a rare case, but in fact, she exemplifies the majority of women in that time. Margaret Atwood s introduction to Marian s world is filled with metaphors and images of food. Marian loves to eat and describes her meals and love of eating with great relish. She takes us passionately through her breakfast and describes her meals in great detail. Images of food prevail: the fan in her office is like a spoon stirring soup ; people s voices remind her of cold oatmeal porridge (48); pregnant woman look like recently fed boa constrictors; and so on. She works in an establishment that deals with finding out consumer s opinions on food and drink. It seems as if food is a very big part of Marian s life, and it is. The many references to food and Marian s enjoyment of it

show the reader that she is an eager consumer in a capitalistic society where food is the victim. Through part one of the novel, Marian speaks in the first person as she is in control of her life and independent. However, in part two, we see a sharp change from the first person voice to that of the third person. This change is simultaneous with her engagement to Peter. Marian ceases to be the independent woman we were introduced to and throws herself into the role of wife-to-be. When Peter asks her what date she wants to be married by, she replies - But instead (of my usual flippant answer) I heard a soft flannelly voice I barely recognised, saying, I d rather leave the big decisions up to you. I was astounded at myself. I d never said anything like that to him before. The funny

thing was I really meant it. (98) Marian has surrendered her control over her life to Peter, who is the embodiment of society s traditional prejudices towards women. She begins to fashion her character after the accepted stereotype of a woman. As she loses her self worth, the images of food are also lost. Their replacement is a dark series of references to doctors and nurses treating submissive patients and images of animals who prey on and fall prey to each other. At the hairdresser s, she sees herself as a passive patient at the hands of capable and all knowing doctors. Her friend s account of the men she has conquered brings an image of a trophy room with stuffed heads to her mind. Marian has fallen from her place as a consumer in society and become prey. This new role which