This thesis endeavors to examine Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride with a view to illustrating how Atwood reinvents female subjectivity through the usage of postmodern writing skills in analyzing such a feminist issue. My purpose of this thesis is to argue that females in literature can no longer be as passive or angelic as ever. Females can be evil, and females can be active and aggressive.
Chapter One manifests a panoramic view of the notions of female subjectivity to foreground that the searching for subjectivity is a predominant issue in both postmodernism and feminism. I conclude that the impulse of postmodern and feminist arguments lies on their concerns about the individual subjectivity and their resistance against a unified and single subjectivity in conventional or masculine theories. Chapter Two unveils the postmodern strategies that Atwood has used in showing her preferring to renew and look back to other conventional works in order to create stories for women. The postmodern characteristics in this novel, such as intertexuality, pastiche narration, Chinese-box story structure and the rewritten of canonical works, reveals Atwood’s intention in using and abusing conventions in traditional and patriarchal literary works.
Chapter Three, with Mary Daly’s declaration of the importance of transvaluation, spotlights the complex relationship between the three protagonists and the evil antagonist. Mary Daly insists that, by breaking the code and seeing through the patriarchal ideology hidden in literature, women can
reject the false femininity, find their true selves, and construct their female subjectivity. In this
chapter, the protagonists reconstruct their subjectivity by fighting against and relying on the antagonist, Zenia, who plays both the victimizer and guider that helps the protagonists get rid of the false femininity and traumatic memories.
Chapter Four emphasizes the ambivalent relationship between women and the city. Different from the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale, Atwood chooses to tell a story that happens in contemporary Toronto. Her change of story background will not only deconstruct the original story background, but also reconstruct a postmodern feminist fairy tale in urban city. In this way, Atwood challenges the traditional distinction between good and evil women, and puts into question a fixed domestic space for women in urban city.
In Chapter Five, the conclusion reiterates, sums up the argument of this thesis, and integrates the foresaid statements into the construction of active and aggressive female subjectivity. Through the creation of an ambivalent femme fatale, Atwood reveals her subversion of the passive and imprisoned group of female characters in conventional literature, and shows her intention to reinvent the active and aggressive female subjectivity.