Margaret Atwood Spotty Handed Villainesses Essay
There is no shortage of inspiration here, but in searching out the bad women of modern fiction, a more subtle approach may be required.
In Margaret Atwood’s thought-provoking essay, ‘Spotty-Handed Villainesses’, Atwood asks the question, ‘Why does literature need bad women? The ‘Spotty’ of her title refers to ‘the invisible but indelible one on the hand of wicked Lady Macbeth.’ Atwood cites the witch-women of literature, yet in , based on the true story of Grace Marks, an adolescent servant who was convicted of killing her employer and his housekeeper, but eventually pardoned, it is the ambiguous mix of guilt and innocence that captures Atwood’s imagination, and that of her readers as well.
In Sue Turnbull’s words, ‘The villainess is femininity gone feral.’ She may shape-shift, the Wicked Queen appearing to Snow White as a harmless old woman, or wear a many-layered mask.This is why it is important that you are continually reading and expanding your bank of books, poems, films, and plays.Intertextuality is when a text implicitly or explicitly refers to another text, by using distinctive, common or recognisable elements of the referenced text.Women who have morphed are impossible to pin down, not just because their cunning means they have succeeded in evading the police, or other figures of authority, but because they occupy a limbo land, not only of moral, but of physical identity.The ghost in Toni Morrison’s initially appears as ‘a pool of pulsing red light’.It is left up to one of the doctors who treats Grace to proclaim her ‘a creature devoid of moral faculties’. ‘Murderess is a strong word to have attached to you It rustles, like a taffeta skirt across the floor.’ Her modest demeanour and good looks are seductive.If guile masks guilt, then guile is superbly practised and the mask never slips.Come to my woman’s breasts and take my milk for gall..’ An important part of being a bad woman of literature has to do with relinquishing one’s female sexuality, (or loudly proclaiming that this is one’s intention).Yet the excitement of reading about these characters is inextricably bound up with the fact that they and remain women, many of them women who have given birth.English Literary Techniques Toolkit series for the HSC.We’ll explain what intertextuality is, show you what it does, provide you with some examples and walk you through the steps to analyse them.