Date of Award

8-8-2003

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Abstract

This thesis project discusses the literary work of Margaret Atwood, specifically highlighting Alias Grace (1996), Cat's Eye (1989), and The Handmaid's Tale (1986). As part of the discussion, the project considers Michel Foucault's theories on how power and discourse shape the individual and Sigmund Freud's work on how repetition aids an individual in obtaining power, and argues that Atwood’s female protagonists are not only shaped by their imagined environments but are liberated from the oppression within them. Given the focus on female protagonists and how they may liberate themselves, the research also considers Peter Brooks' work with regard to open-ended narratives in order to assess if these protagonists realize their quest for liberation. The study is broken into five chapters, dedicating separate chapters to the discussion of each novel noted above, with both introductory framework and conclusions at the close of the project. The conclusive comments draw attention to the author’s intent to challenge the reader to understand the societal commentary infused in the literature and to think about the question, “What if?”

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