Language, Translation, and the Inscription of the Female Body in the Works of Margaret Atwood
Vaughan, Crystal A.
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In The Handmaid’s Tale, Bodily Harm, and Alias Grace, Atwood demonstrates that the connection between language, translation, and the female body is evident in the ways in which language is used to control the female body. Atwood posits that language systems assume the female body is fixed; however, language is inherently unstable. Consequently, if the female body is inscribed by language, the female body is not fixed just as a text is not fixed. Atwood writes the female body as a translation of masculinist text in order to resist the tradition of constructing the female body reductively through masculinist language. Through the attempts of her female characters to represent themselves (rather than being represented) in her work, Atwood illustrates that ?authentic? linguistic representation of the female body is impossible because language is a patriarchal construction which defines limitations on female voice and articulates the female body in masculinist terms.