Revenge of the mutilated wives : Bluebeards in Margaret Atwood's novels

Title: Revenge of the mutilated wives : Bluebeards in Margaret Atwood's novels
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2021, vol. 47, iss. 2, pp. 87-103
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article
The article examines revenge strategies in Margaret Atwood's novels that draw inspiration from Bluebeard-type fairy tales. This fairy tale type is named after Charles Perrault's "Bluebeard", and includes related tales such as the Grimms' "The Robber Bridegroom" and "Fitcher's Bird". Variations on this family of plots appear throughout Atwood's oeuvre, most prominently in The Robber Bride, The Blind Assassin, and The Testaments. The key elements – curiosity, the bloody chamber, the blood-stained key, the tell-tale egg, and the chopped-up bodies in a bowl of blood – are invoked in new combinations with new associations to complicate the victim-oppressor hierarchy. This paper argues that in Atwood's revisions of Bluebeardian themes, she challenges traditional conceptions of the Bluebeardian predator. By rewriting fairy tales in a creative manner, Atwood explores not only the importance of surviving the violent attacks, but also the survivors' revenge strategies: from self-harm to bearing witness and making public accusations of the Bluebeardian oppressors. By sharing their stories, Atwood's protagonists can take control of their lives and resist aggressors' attempts to silence them or transfer guilt to them for their curiosity.
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