Margaret Atwood’s Lady Oracle: Writing against Notions of Unity



Atwood’s ironising of women’s Gothic Romance fiction makes Lady Oracle a compelling and unsettling novel. Writing within and against the limits of the genre, exploiting and challenging its norms, she interrogates its stereotypes of womanhood as she explores the compensatory function of so-called escapist literature. As Lady Oracle reworks older fictional forms — the Gothic, the sentimental novel, the picaresque and fairy tales — it becomes the locus where a plurality of styles and traditions are revisited. Such a medley probes notions of unity in generic classification to subvert conventional hierarchies, dismantling their conventional iconographies. Lady Oracle also interrogates the notion of unity in terms of attitude to subjectivity and ‘character’. By refracting the identity of her protagonist through a plethora of projected personae, At wood emphasises the liberating aspects of a multiple, plural subjectivity, with the text withholding judgement on a range of issues and, by focusing on the fractured self of a polymorphic protagonist, endorses process and change. Deconstructing the homogeneous ego, Lady Oracle yields a gendered vision wherein the figure of woman assumes a multiplicity of roles and positions.


Female Character Fairy Tale Liberate Aspect Popular Fiction General Normative Form 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1994

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