The latest area of play: postmodern hats for Margaret Atwood's The robber bride
LE3 .A278 1999
Master of Arts
English & Theatre Studies
This thesis investigates Margaret Atwood's 'The Robber Bride' by focusing on the novel's construction of postmodern centres. Informed by the postmodern theories of Linda Hutcheon and Jean-Franois Lyotard, the thesis defines "centre" as the combined value-systems of a particular society or individual. Postmodernism and modernism can be described as different reactions to the same cultural crisis: "the loss of the centre," the break-down of these established systems of belief. While modernist artists try to resolve the crisis by searching for the centre elsewhere, postmodernism gives up the belief in a single centre and recognizes that the world is multicentric. If modernism reacted with angst towards the lost centre, postmodernism celebrates the new multicentricity. 'The Robber Bride ' is a postmodern novel embracing this new polyphony. Chapter 1 constructs a definition of postmodernism from a general, philosophical point of view. Using Lyotard's work on postmodernism and Hutcheon's theories and criticism as guides, it shows how these general definitions of postmodernism can be applied to the study of literature. This introduction serves as theoretical groundwork for a narratological analysis of the novel's discourse and its structure in chapter 2. This narratological analysis prepares for the character study of chapter 3, a close reading of the novel's three protagonists, each of whom, through her own narrative, learns to develop a postmodern ' Weltanschauung'. Chapter 4 concludes the thesis by showing how the novel validates each protagonist as an independent centre and how this validation, in turn, confirms the reading of 'The Robber Bride' as a postmodernist fiction. The appendix of the thesis is an interview with Atwood.
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