LT Classics Challenge: The Robber Bride Discussion
Welcome, Challengers! Sorry about the lateness of this post — let’s get right down to it!
How do Tony, Roz and Charis represent different aspects of femininity?
I know this sounds New-Ageish, but Tony, Roz and Charis very clearly represent the different faces of the threefold goddess. Tony, with her child-like body and her child-sized clothing, as well as her jealousy of Zenia’s sexuality, makes her the pure Maiden. She is also very interested in war and knowledge, making her a bit like Athena, one of the virginal Greek Goddesses (though not the goddess of virgins).
Roz is shapely, round, having given birth to three children and caring like the Mother goddess for everyone around her. Charis, with her knowledge of all things spiritual and her possession of her grandmother’s healing power, is the crone — in fact, near the end, the other women even refer to her as such. She’s been the maiden, but that was ripped away from her, and she has also been the mother by giving birth to August, but all of the women have some aspect of the other Goddess faces.
How does Zenia morph to take advantage of each woman’s identity or self-defined role?
There are a million ways in which Zenia does this, but let’s focus on how she first appears to the women. She comes to Tony as the embodiment of sex, of womanhood and femininity, everything the Maiden Tony is missing in her life. Zenia becomes a woman who is sensual and outgoing without sacrificing intelligence — everything Tony isn’t.
For Charis, Zenia becomes someone in need of healing. Charis the Crone’s purpose in life, her god-given gift, is to heal people — and so Zenia becomes someone with cancer, in need of a safe haven in which to heal. Zenia and Roz have a bit of a different relationship — Zenia preys on Roz’s motherly aspect by pretending to go after her son, which only happens later in the novel.
Who is Zenia? Does the novel ever definitively answer this question? Does it need an answer?
The question is and isn’t answered. Zenia is the moon; she’s illusion. She is a chameleon, embodying the worst of the female nature but able to imitate the best aspects. Perhaps Charis’ tarot reading near the middle bst answers this question — Zenia is the High Priestess, the feminine side of God.
Of course, on a realistic note, Zenia is a manipulative bitch. But that’s not as academically viable, I suppose. :P
Has Atwood’s portrayal of female identity changed from The Edible Woman to The Robber Bride? How so, and in what respects?
It’s become more complicated. There is still the sense that women can change, women are flexible and chameleon-like. As Marian becomes different people with Peter and Duncan, Zenia changes and the other women change slightly too. It’s a more complex, more fluid flexibility of identity, and an acknowledgment that there are so many aspects to the female gender that it’s almost impossible to pin down commonalities among us — as shown by Zenia and her multiple identities.
Entry filed under: LT Classics Challenge.