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"The Edible Woman" By Margaret Atwood

1670 words - 7 pages

The main theme in the novel entitled The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood is consumerism. To consume, as defined by The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language is "To take in as food; eat or drink up. To expend; use up. To purchase (goods or services) for direct use or ownership. To waste; squander. To destroy totally; ravage. To absorb; engross." Consumerism is demonstrated throughout the novel in a variety of ways, some more subtle than others. One of the more subtle, yet most common ways Atwood displays this theme is through predator and prey imagery. Marian subconsciously sees Peter, her fiancé, as well as certain other people that surround her as predators of various types, and often sees herself as the prey. She also has an outsider's view of her roommate, Ainsley, preying on Leonard Slank in a strategic scheme to produce a child.The most obvious of the predators who have their sights set on Marian is her boyfriend/fiancé, Peter. While dining with Marian, Len and Ainsley, Peter tells a story about hunting vermin and how he killed and gutted a rabbit. Marian creates an image in her head of Peter gathered "with a group of friends, those friends whom [she] had never met...their faces clearly visible in the sunlight that fell in shafts down through the anonymous trees, splashed with blood, the mouths wrenched with laughter. [She] couldn't see the rabbit" (The Edible Woman p. 75). She finds herself crying and goes to the bathroom. Locked in the cubicle, she describes the toilet paper as "crouched in there with [her], helpless and white and furry, waiting passively for the end" (p. 75). She identifies with the rabbit in the story, and could not see it in her mind because, subconsciously, she is the rabbit. Later on the same evening, Peter proposes to Marian. Looking at him, she sees "his face strangely shadowed, his eyes gleaming like an animal's in the beam from a car headlight. His stare was intent, faintly ominous" (p. 89). She sees him, subconsciously, as a predator waiting to pounce on her, but she doesn't actually make the connection between how she is seeing him at this moment and how he really treats her. Marian also sees doctors and nurses as predators. She associates Peter with a doctor at times when they're in bed together. She lets Peter "run his hand gently over her skin...almost clinically.... It was when she would begin feeling that she was on a doctor's examination table that she would take hold of his hand to make him stop" (p. 165). She allows him to go on until she can't stand it anymore. When they go out for a steak dinner, she watches him "operating" (p. 167) on his steak. She envisions the cow, alive, with the diagram of cuts drawn onto it. She then begins to see her own steak "as a hunk of muscle. Blood red" (p. 167). As Peter finishes his steak, she subconsciously relates to the cow being devoured by Peter. She is unhappy at his finishing the steak, but she doesn't actually know why. The last...

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