The Destruction Of Female Possession In The English Patient

2612 words - 10 pages

In Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient we see a world completely ravaged by war. The land itself is damaged, sometimes beyond recognition as it is torn apart by bombs. Just as these human-made structures have faced the damage of imperialism, so have female bodies in the novel. Ondaatje creates several parallels between man’s attempt to “own” the land around him and his “ownership” of the female body. As we see in the novel, this attempt at ownership almost always ends in destruction, “war,” and often, death. What I believe Ondaatje is trying to present to us is the impossibility of “owning” something that should ultimately be free, such as the female body (or any body, for that matter.) Though some feminist theorists such as Lilijana Burcar have claimed Ondaatje’s novel perpetuates the idea of male ownership of female bodies, I believe we see several examples of female empowerment hidden throughout the novel; examples of females outwardly rejecting such “ownership,” as Hanna refuses to be seen as a sexual object by Carravagio, and even changes her appearance to “defeminize” herself. We even see gender-roles reverse. The “male gaze” seems to apply not only to males, but to females as well as Hanna views the sapper, Kip, in a “feminized” and often “sexual” way. Most striking of all, however, is Ondaatje’s representation of the character Katharine as an almost voiceless physical body which is undoubtedly “owned” and consumed by Almasy’s desire. As we see, this “ownership” leads to what is arguably the biggest destruction in the novel: the destruction of both Katharine and Almasy altogether.
Before focusing on the most extreme example of male ownership that is Almasy’s ownership of Katharine, I want to first examine the character of Hana. Hana, having been physically and mentally ravaged by war, uses the Italian Villa as a sort of “sanctuary.” In this sanctuary, Hana attempts to escape from the “norms” and dividing lines created in the world around her. “I was sick of the hunger. Of just being lusted at…Sick of being treated like gold because I was female,” (Ondaatje 85). As this quotation represents, Hana wishes to become something that is not, in the traditional sense, “feminine.” As Judith Butler describes in her chapter entitled “Bodily Inscriptions, Performative Subversions,” the idea of gender is nothing but a performance. Hana proves this as she physically changes her appearance, cutting off all her hair. She is still anatomically “female,” but chooses to defeminize herself. This is one of the earliest examples of female empowerment in the novel. However, it is soon apparent that the male attempt at ownership is powerful, and almost inescapable.
When an old family friend, Carravagio enters the Italian Villa, it is clear that Hana can not completely escape the male gaze, and she is once again sexualized. Carravagio seems almost unable to stop looking at Hana’s body, as we see her described several times...

Find Another Essay On The Destruction of Female Possession in The English Patient

The Significance Of Symbolism In Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient

632 words - 3 pages palms so he could never steal again.Another symbol used through The English Patient is the book. Books are an escape and a method of communication. When Hana first enters the Italian Monastery where she tends to the English patient, she cannot get upstairs because there are steps missing. She nails piles of books down in place of the steps to access the second floor. She can now use the bedroom in which she cares for the English patient. Hana

The Role of Nostalgia in The English Patient

3141 words - 13 pages useful tools for cinematic analysis of film texts, the latter is more relevant to media and cultural studies, for it assesses nostalgia in relation to our historical consciousness. The film “The English Patient” (1996), written for the screen and directed by Anthony Minghella, presents its audiences with a complex mise-en-scène viewed through the filter of nostalgic memories and demonstrates those vital issues of cinematic nostalgia on various levels

The English Patient

1271 words - 5 pages The novel, The English Patient, by Michael Ondaajte constructs meaning through the use of tropes, images and symbolism, instead of merely portraying a linear set of events. There are many references within the text and tropes of covering, which serve to create and strengthen meaning. Bold imagery is also present, which erects another level of significance. Symbolism plays a vital role in the formation of meaning, with fire, religion, the English

Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient

970 words - 4 pages Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient The limited character in Michael Ondaatje’s novel, The English Patient, was Almásy. Almásy was a man who was burned from head to toe, and whose identity is unrecognizable thus making him a limited character. The novel takes place in a villa where the man was being taken care of by Hana, a young nurse who stayed behind to take care of Almásy while the rest of the nurses escaped to a safer place to stay

Michael Ondaatje, "The English Patient".

1236 words - 5 pages . All that is left now are fragments. Fragments of memories, fragments of experiences and for one fragments of his own physical body. One of the themes of the novel "The English Patient" is a reflection on identity, which all four main characters have to realize in order to regain their lives."A man falls burning out of the sky and into the lives and hearts of three very different people" (Pg. 5). The best possible way to describe the English

Israel: A Rightful Possession Of The Jews

728 words - 3 pages Israel: A Rightful Possession of the Jews POLICE SUSPECT ANOTHER LYNCH Maryk Gavrielov, 25, of Moshav Bnei Ayish near Ashod, has been identified as the victim of what was apparently another Arab lynch. Of an Israeli lost in a Palestinian area. The police strongly suspect that Gavrielov, who set out from his home on Friday, lost his way and mistakenly entered the Ramallah area, or was brought there by force, where he was brutally killed for

Legalizing the Possession and Use of Marijuana

2857 words - 11 pages SCHNEIDER PAGE \* MERGEFORMAT 1 Legalizing the Possession and Use of MarijuanaChris SchneiderSaginaw Valley State UniversityProf. JaksaCJ 3013/2/10Whether or not to legalize the use of the popular Marijuana plant has been an issue up for debate for many years. As time goes on, the use of this substance is becoming more and more accepted. Research has found that it may aid in therapeutic ways for patients, gaining respect with the medical world

The possession of people and their downfall

1122 words - 5 pages . This in turn causes Daisy to side with Tom, revealing how Gatsby’s immaturity leads to his downfall. Furthermore, despite Daisy’s action Gatsby still does not give up his love for her and after the conversation between who does Daisy loves the most, Tom sends Daisy and Gatsby back to Long Island in Gatsby’s yellow car. When they reach the Valley of Ashes, Myrtle runs over their car and dies instantly. Meanwhile Nick, Tom and Jordan arrive on

Visual Imagery in The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje

609 words - 2 pages Every writer uses a different set of methods, known as the narrative mode, to portray the plot to the audience for individual reasons. In the first section of “The English Patient”, Michael Ondaatje uses his narrative mode in order to more effectively convey his message in an appealing way. One way he does this is by presenting the reader with visual images and vivid description that trigger their imagination. His use of visual imagery

How past events shape the lives of protagonists Amir, in "The Kite Runner", and László Almásy, in "The English Patient"

1758 words - 7 pages How past events shape the lives of protagonists Amir, in "The Kite Runner",and László Almásy, in "The English Patient""The Kite Runner" explores on a story which is based on two boys who are in a strong relationship, just after the end of the Afghanistan monarchy. The main character here is Amir, who befriends another age mate of his. On the other hand, the English patient is a novel which was written during the era of the

The Impact of Destruction

1188 words - 5 pages American history” (Houston x). In the novel Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, is a traumatizing story Jeanne experienced and wrote down, to be remembered in the future of a historical context. Manzanar represented different areas of Ko Wakatsuki (Papa) and Jeanne Wakatsuki's unique personalities to bring about both destruction and growth, and simultaneously offer influence in each other's characters. The impact of

Similar Essays

Destruction Through Imagery And Theme In The English Patient

554 words - 2 pages Destruction through Imagery and Theme in The English Patient The imagery in Michael Ondaatje's novel The English Patient serves to illustrate the theme of destruction in this novel. The setting of the novel as well as the characters themselves present to the reader a vivid picture of demolition. Critics also find that Ondaatje's imagery is a vital element in the presentation of this theme. The English Patient is set at the end of

Postmodernism In The English Patient Essay

1060 words - 4 pages Postmodernism in The English Patient   Postmodernism is one of the most controversial and influential intellectual movements to appear in the last fifty years.  In order to understand postmodernism, it would be wise to begin with a definition of modernism.  Modernism is a philosophy based on the belief that through Enlightenment values of rationality and the absolute truth of science, the human race will evolve into a utopia

Possession In The Exorcist Essay

2470 words - 10 pages Being Possessed The idea of possession can frighten many people. What horror movie producers and directors that go into this field are counting on is that they can use it to frighten their viewers. The Exorcist and The Exorcist Beginning both are centered on the act of exorcism. Both demoniacs in the films are women though their fates are polar opposites. The exorcisms are also shown in different lights. This is done through special

The Importance Of Identity Possession In Frankenstein

2422 words - 10 pages The idea of duality permeates the literary world. Certain contradictory commonplace themes exist throughout great works, creation versus destruction, light versus dark, love versus lust, to name a few, and this trend continues in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. The pivotal pair in this text however, is monotony versus individuality. The opposing entities of this pairing greatly contrast against each other in Frankenstein, but individuality proves