Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 10

Title: Hymens, Lips and Masks: The Veil in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale Author(s): David Coad

Publication Details: Literature and Psychology 47.1 & 2 (2001): p54-67. Source: Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 246. Detroit: Gale. From Literature Resource Center. Document Type: Critical essay Bookmark: Bookmark this Document Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning Full Text: [(essay date 2001) In the following essay, Coad studies the symbolic significance of veils, sheets, and canopies in The Handmaid's Tale according to Jacques Derrida's concept of the hymen as a feminine trope.] At the heart of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale lies a futuristic, Orwellian vision of a theocratic, fundamentalist-inspired empire in which women are the principal subalterns. Recalcitrant or defective women are exiled to 'colonies' on the edge of empire and henceforth known as 'Unwomen'. Atwood's late twentieth-century American empire has disempowered half of its members. Women are oppressed and forced to occupy a number of rigidly defined subject positions: frustrated house-bound Wives, official substitute wives known as Handmaids, halfmistress, half-whore, domestic helpers called Marthas, educators and disciplinarian, sadistic propagandists called Aunts and, lastly, unofficial prostitutes who remain on the hidden underside of the rgime. Atwood's interest in The Handmaid's Tale is overtly political. The author imagines a dystopian fable in which gender politics occupies the centre of attention. In response to the 1980s backlash against women's rights in the United States, Atwood speculates on the nature and consequences of a masculinist, totalitarian and puritanical takeover. In this ultra-conservative neo-Christian rgime, all women are slaves of the system. Anatomy is destiny. Women's wombs are stateowned, personal liberty for women has been abolished and strict divisions according to gender are respected. Atwood's nightmare is possible when to be a master, it is sufficient to be a man, and when women are two-legged wombs, slaves of their reproductive organs. The characters of The Handmaid's Tale tend to fall into easily recognizable categories based on gender and sartorial distinctions. As all men are uniform (they are the ones in control who possess power), Atwood presents them in uniform: the Commanders wear a black uniform, the Eyes and Angels are similarly dressed in military fashion. According to their status, women are forced to wear a uniform denoting their particular function in society. The extensive use of analepsis in the novel, showing the 1970s and 1980s, allows the reader to compare women's attire before the takeover with the new regimented and controlled state uniforms. The mother of the protagonist and central narrator of The Handmaid's Tale, Offred, is shown in an old film to wear overall jeans, a green and mauve plaid shirt and sneakers. Moira, the lesbian activist, used to wear purple overalls, a denim jacket and one dangly earring. In one analepsis she suggests having an underwear party amongst the girls who would wear lace crotches, snap garters and bras that push your tits up. All this has changed in the Republic of Gilead. Wives and Aunts are

soberly dressed and Handmaids are forced to wear a red nun-like uniform together with 'wings' and a veil as head-dress. Only the whores in the State-owned brothel at Jezebel's continue to wear makeup and what can be described as a male fantasy of feminine attire: feathers and sequins, lingerie, shortie nightgowns, baby-doll pyjamas, ngliges, bathing suits, bikinis, jogging shorts, sun halters, cheerleader outfits, miniskirts and bunny costumes. An item of clothing common to Wives, Marthas and Handmaid's in Gilead is the veil. Serena Joy, the Commander's wife, wears a light blue veil, Rita, one of the Marthas, puts on a veil to go outside, and all the Handmaids are forced to wear a long red dress, gloves and white wings which surround and cover the face, as well as a red veil. The obligatory wearing of a veil in Atwood's dystopian society where women are silenced, oppressed and disempowered invites the reader to interpret the veil as an instrument in the subjection of women and to consider how it is linked to a politics of dress. As only women wear a veil in The Handmaid's Tale, Atwood associates the veil with femininity. As these women are under the control and power of men, the veil takes on moral, religious and political dimensions. Its function in the novel is two-fold: to help conceal and hide women as well as to prevent women from seeing. It helps render the Handmaids anonymous, it makes them nun-like, ostensibly pure, chaste, and virginal and it aids their effacement, actively disempowering them. The image of the veil in The Handmaid's Tale needs to be interpreted as part of a series of similar veil-like images in the novel which, taken together, constitute a complex and highlycharged symbol, metaphor or trope of colonial, gendered oppression. It is possible to place these images into three categories. In a first category the following images will be grouped together: the red veil of the Handmaid's head-dress, the white curtains in Offred's room, the red cloth stretched on a frame and the white sheets in the doctor's surgery, and the canopy of Serena Joy's four-poster bed where Offred undergoes the 'Ceremony', that is the official insemination. In this context the veil can be seen as a colonial fantasy and interpreted according to what Derrida calls the 'logic of the hymen'. A second register centres on the image of lips. The work of Luce Irigaray will be called on to help elucidate this category. Finally, the veil as mask will be analyzed as part of a discussion of femininity as masquerade. The Logic of the Hymen Veiling and unveiling: isn't that what interests them? What keeps them busy? Always repeating the same operation, every time. On every woman.(Irigaray, 'When Our Lips Speak Together') Derived from the Latin velum, the English word 'veil' carries a wide range of meanings which go beyond the idea of a piece of cloth or fabric worn, especially by women, to cover the head or face, in order to conceal or protect a part of the body. The coloured veils in The Handmaid's Tale do, of course, cover this definition. The principal meaning of veil according to the OED is part of the head-dress of a nun. Atwood exploits this meaning through the pun on the word 'habit' and by a description of Offred as 'A Sister, dipped in blood' (Atwood 1996:19). Another meaning of the word veil refers to a curtain, hanging or awning, as in the expression, the Veil of the Temple. The repeated references to the white curtains in Offred's room invite the reader to see the gauzy curtains as another veil, especially given the habit of Offred to pull the curtains over her face, 'like a veil' (Atwood 1996:67). A further meaning includes a cover or screen which the

author shows in Chapter Eleven. When Offred visits the doctor, she finds 'a folding screen, red cloth stretched on a frame' (Atwood 1996:69). She lies down on an examination table and is partly covered by two more veils, sheets this time, one of which is suspended neck-level from the ceiling. To complete the list of connotations of the word veil, Atwood uses the image of a sail to describe the large white canopy in Serena Joy's bedroom. Sail and veil are the same word in Latin and French. She writes: 'only the canopy, which manages to suggest at one and the same time, by the gauziness of its fabric and its heavy downward curve, both ethereality and matter. Or the sail of a ship. Big-bellied sails' (Atwood 1996:104). Given the insistence in The Handmaid's Tale on Offred being veiled (by wings, a veil, curtains, a screen, sheets, a sail-like canopy), given the colour of these veils, either white or red, and finally, given the master/slave context, it is highly probable that Atwood is working with stereotyped conceptions of the colonized woman as the veiled object of the (masculine) colonizer's gaze. In the second chapter of her recently published Colonial Fantasies, entitled 'Veiled fantasies: cultural and sexual difference in the discourse of Orientalism', Meyda Yeenolu provides an enlightening discussion of the concept-metaphor of the veil in terms of imperialism and gender. Although Yeenolu confines her analysis to Oriental woman, Atwood, even with her broader approach, joins in the debate on Orientalism at one point in her novel. Towards the beginning of Chapter Thirteen, Offred thinks of 'the obsession [the nineteenth century] had then with harems. Dozens of paintings of harems, fat women, lolling on divans, turbans on their heads or velvet caps, being fanned with peacock tails, a eunuch in the background standing guard' (Atwood 1996: 79). The irony of this memory trace is that while Offred is cast herself as a veiled courtesan (the household is predominantly female like a harem), it is not the guard in the background, Nick, who is the eunuch, but the Commander himself who is probably sterile. Atwood hereby deconstructs the image of the potent (Western) male. According to Yeenolu, 'the veil is one of those tropes through which Western fantasies of penetration [...] and access to the interiority of the other are fantasmatically achieved'. (Yeenolu 1998:39). The Handmaid's Tale gives full rein to such male fantasies. The militia who control the speech and movements of the Handmaids are known as Eyes. Offred's movements are constantly under the surveillance of male eyes. When Atwood uses the image of the slug's eye to describe the Commander's penis, she phallicizes the penetrating eye/I. Offred's different veils draw the attention of the male eye/I, curious to penetrate behind this thin defence. Whereas the white veils (curtain, sheet, canopy) cast Offred as virgin, the red equivalents (veil, screen-cloth) suggest and perhaps even incite deflowering. Not only is Offred penetrated monthly during the Ceremony, but during her medical examination the doctor pokes and prods his patient before penetrating her with his finger. Offred's veils are repeatedly rent by officially sanctioned organs. The tropological excess of the veil in The Handmaid's Tale would seem to reflect the force of the male gaze, intent on penetrating behind the veil. This is understood perfectly by Aunt Lydia: 'To be seen--to be seen--is to be--her voice trembled--penetrated. What you must be, girls, is impenetrable' (Atwood 1996:39). What has been referred to as a tropological excess of the veil in The Handmaid's Tale, revealing a patriarchal, colonial obsession in the veiled woman and betraying fantasies of penetration, can also be analyzed in terms of Atwood's deconstructive textual strategies. Each of the polysemous veil-like images in the novel can be interpreted according to what Derrida in 'The Double

Session', calls the logic of the hymen. To see Atwood's veils as examples of the hymen as trope is useful as it allows us to explore the author's use of supplementarity and undecidability, both deconstructive notions which aim to displace the Hegelian master/slave dialectic; in Atwood's novel the Commander/Handmaid dyad. Derrida is attracted to the word hymen as its meanings fall into the and/or dialectic. Literally, it refers to the virginal membrane and denotes an absence of consummation; metaphorically, it means marriage and signifies the presence of consummation. The word is also useful since it allows one to work with the notions of blank/space and between. In 'The Double Session', Derrida describes the hymen as 'an operation that both sows confusion between opposites and stands between the opposites 'at once'. The hymen 'takes place' in the 'inter-,' in the spacing between desire and fulfillment, between perpetration and its recollection'. (Derrida 1997:212). Atwood's Handmaid seems to be a perfect example of hymeneal logic. She is the (n)ever-virgin, (n)ever-violated nun/none whore. Her name is and is not her name. She is herself, but at the same time she is of-Fred, her Commander. She is between red and off-red; she is off(e)red to (F)red. The particular circumstances of the Ceremony during which Offred lies on her back between Serena Joy's legs demonstrates (con)fusion. Who is the Commander inseminating, Wife and/or Handmaid? Serena Joy and Offred are both different (one wife, one substitute wife) and the same (both wives). Derrida explains this logic as follows: 'Hymen [...] is first of all a sign of fusion, the consummation of a marriage, the identification of two beings, the confusion between two. Between the two, there is no longer difference but identity'. (Derrida 1997:209). The same confusion takes place on the male side in The Handmaid's Tale. The Commander is displaced by Nick, who in turn displaces Luke. Meaning is continually deferred in this chain of (potential) inseminators ready to impregnate the signifier, Offred. Two of Atwood's strategies employed in order to dismantle patriarchal, masculine binary oppositions are supplementarity and undecidability. When theorizing on the notion of the supplement, Derrida is using its double meaning of lack and excess. In an article entitled 'The Unhappy Hymen: Between Feminism and Deconstruction', Leslie Wahl Rabine explains the process as follows: 'Supplementarity displaces the conceptual hierarchy of the centered structure as an essential whole, to which the supplement seems exterior, an essential addition but also a needed completion or replacement for what is lacking in the whole' (Rabine 1990:23). In Atwood's novel the 'centered structure' is both the Republic of Gilead, the oppressive rgime, and/or the Handmaid's subversive tale of resistance. The 'Historical Notes' are an example of a supplement, relegated to the outside of the text. The novel folds at this hymeneal space, which both joins and separates the two tales. The Notes fold back into Offred's narrative once we close the book. For Derrida, the hymen is a feminine trope for undecidability. It is the 'inter' between outside and inside, between and and or. He explains in Positions: 'the hymen is neither confusion nor distinction, neither identity nor difference, neither consummation nor virginity, neither the veil nor unveiling, neither the inside nor the outside' (Derrida 1981:43). The sort of linguistic games played by Derrida in his texts find a less recondite version in the novel. As a Canadian, Atwood sometimes enjoys puns between English and French. Two examples are the Mayday/M'aidez confusion and the signifier chair, 'at once' French and English, as Derrida might say. At the

beginning of Chapter Seven, Offred ponders on the difference between lie and lay. She notes that men tend to use the passive construction even when assuming their active role: 'I'd like to get laid' (Atwood 1996:47). When we think of the supine Offred during the Ceremony, we could wonder who really is being laid--the Commander and/or Offred? A pun is used by Offred to refer to the escaped Moira: 'she'd been set loose, she'd set herself loose. She was now a loose woman' (Atwood 1996:143). A less successful confusion takes over Offred's mind concerning the word job which she confuses with Job. Always one for a joke, Moira transforms the biblical Balm in Gilead to Bomb in Gilead. Perhaps the most amusing pun of all is included in the title (and spoiled somewhat by Atwood herself drawing our attention to it). The Handmaid's tail/tale is indeed of great interest. A more important confusion is left until the end of Offred's narrative. Atwood leaves in suspense the undecided fate of her heroine, following the logic of the hymen. Whether Nick is spy or saviour is never known, although the existence of the recorded tapes tends to suggest that Offred did escape her confinement. If we are to see the hymen as 'taking place' in the spacing between desire and fulfillment, as Derrida suggests, it becomes possible to attach a special significance to notions of blank and space in The Handmaid's Tale. Perhaps the space which best demonstrates the hymeneal logic is the blank space now plastered over on the white ceiling in Offred's bedroom, a ruptured space where Offred's predecessor hung herself. This blank/gap/space in the ceiling exemplifies the Handmaid's (woman's) desire to escape her captivity and exploitation as well as the successful attempt in effacing herself. Offred's room is her only space of refuge. While it is still part of the Commander's house and her daily oppression, it becomes a space the Handmaid takes over for herself. It is a feminine space/place protected and hidden by the gauzy white curtains which veil Offred's solitary activities and desires. At two points in the text, Atwood clearly identifies her feminine protagonist with the hymeneal notion of blank: 'We lived in the blank white spaces at the edge of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between stories' (Atwood 1997:66-7). And again, 'I am a blank, here, between parentheses. Between other people' (Atwood 1996:240). Each time Atwood identifies the feminine with the blank or gap, she uses the hymeneal 'between'. It is in 'The Double Session' that Derrida comments on the possible etymology of the word hymen and notes that it is often traced to a root word in Greek, huphos, meaning tissue. He links it also to the Latin root suo/suere meaning to sew. From this hypothesis, it is tempting to see the hymen as something stitched together like a veil, a text(ile). Turning to Atwood's text, it can be useful to see the novel as a sewing together of sutured elements stitched together to form a hymen/text. At the end of her narrative Offred even apologizes for her story since it is 'in fragments, like a body' (Atwood 1996:279). The multiplicity of chapters and sections, the extensive use of ellipsis (blanks between paragraphs and the large number of white/virginal pages), make for a fan-like hymeneal text. Upon opening The Handmaid's Tale/Tail for the first time, the reader breaks open Atwood's hymen and begins the (masculine) work of interpretation with his pen/stylus. We open the lips (lvres) of Atwood's book (livre) and from this entry flows off-red onto the incarnadine cover. Veiled Lips In her essay 'When Our Lips Speak Together', Luce Irigaray writes:

We are luminous. Neither one nor two. I've never known how to count. Up to you. In their calculations, we make two. Really, two? Doesn't that make you laugh? An odd sort of two. And yet not one. Especially not one. Let's leave one to them: their oneness, with its prerogatives, its domination, its solipsism: like the sun's.(Irigaray 1993:207) Offred's two lips, Serena Joy's tulips, by their lips they are women. Dissemination takes place in the folds of the hymen, the seeds of meaning are spilled and scattered abroad. The juice of the Commander runs down Offred's legs. Serena Joy's tulips open their cups, spill out their crimson colour. They are all red. The tulips are redder than ever, opening, no longer winecups but chalices, thrusting themselves up. The Masquerade of Femininity And appearance, forms, masks, veils--the whole paraphernalia of beauty(Irigaray 1991:80) The figure of the veil is a well-known trope of Western metaphysics used successively by Hegel in his treatment of the dialectic essence/appearance; then by Nietzsche discussing truth and woman, and later by Heidegger writing of aletheia (truth), literally unveiling, or uncovering. Such a metaphysical tradition connects woman with untruth, dissimulation and artifice. In Beyond Good and Evil Nietzsche writes: 'What is truth to a woman! From the very first nothing has been more alien, repugnant, inimical to woman than truth--her great art is the lie, her supreme concern is appearance and beauty' (Nietzsche 1990:164). And elsewhere, this time in The Gay Science: 'Finally woman. Reflect on the whole history of women: do they not have to be first of all and above all else actresses? [...] They 'put something on' even when they take off everything. Woman is so artistic' (quoted in Irigaray 1991:82). It is easy to identify the phallogocentrism of this tradition with the Republic of Gilead in Atwood's novel. Similar to what has happened in western philosophy, woman in Gilead has been excluded from the Logos. She is silenced and forced into a subaltern position of mute(d) Other. The Handmaids are sexual servants, depersonalized and dispossessed of their rights. Irigaray's essay, 'Women on the Market', in which she discusses the circulation of women among men and women-as-commodities, could have acted as a blueprint for The Handmaid's Tale (Irigaray 1993: 170-91). The Handmaids pass between Commanders as objects of exchange in the patriarchal order, allowing their bodies to be exploited for procreational purposes. Atwood's Handmaids are reduced to their sexuality; women have been essentialized because of their reproductive function to become 'two-legged wombs' or 'ambulatory chalices' (Atwood 1996:146). There is a reflection on the part of Atwood in The Handmaid's Tale as to what constitutes 'woman' and 'femininity', very much linked to the backlash of the 1980s, as outlined in detail by Faludi in her best-selling volume Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women. It is mentioned in the Historical Notes that the Aunts were complicit members of the totalitarian society since they believed 'in what they called "traditional values"' (Atwood 1996:320). These traditional values of the patriarchal order, endorsed by the Wives and Aunts, effectively essentialize women to their role as wife/mother, sanctify the home and depend on their relinquishing power and authority to men. Atwood's novel is a critique of such essentializing

traditional values, as is revealed in this 1991 interview: 'Women are socialised to please, to assuage pain, to give blood till they drop, to conciliate, to be selfless, to be helpful, to be Jesus Christ since men have given up on that role, to be perfect, and that load of luggage is still with us' (Atwood 1991:20). The Republic of Gilead believes that one is born woman, that there is an essence of 'woman', that to be a woman you have to be a mother, and that femininity is the particularity of women only. They also believe that women's natural place is to be meek and subservient, women need to be hidden, masked and veiled. Like the fundamentalist New Right Moral Majority of the 1980s in the United States, Gilead is anti-abortion, 'pro-family', and justifies its beliefs and practices with biblical authority. Atwood's dystopia demonstrates the debasing and humiliating consequences for women when these traditional values are implemented and enforced by the status quo. The author distances herself from such an anti-women and anti-feminist viewpoint and takes a position alongside an intellectual tradition which undermines the phallocentric symbolic order. Her views seem to be inspired from the following counter-tradition: 'There is no such thing as a woman, as a truth in itself of woman in itself' (Derrida 1996:101); 'To be a woman, she does not have to be a mother' (Irigaray 1991:86) and 'Woman [...] is only a more or less obliging prop for the enactment of man's fantasies. That she may find pleasure in that role [...] is above all a masochistic prostitution of her body to a desire that is not her own' (Irigaray 1993:25). Which male fantasies could Irigaray be referring to here? Atwood provides various possibilities, all linked to the veil as mask. To cover the Handmaids in a long habit not only exposes a puritan fear of the flesh, but more specifically suggests a deep-seated masculine fear of female sexuality. Ironically, the Handmaids are forced to wear red, the colour of blood, women's blood. The red uniforms are a constant visible reminder of women's menstrual flow and menstruating wombs. The Handmaid's red habit hides the pudendum and the female body from the male gaze (betraying the male fantasy of the over-sexed, castrating femme fatale), while at the same time turning women into constantly available walking vaginas at man's disposal. Aunt Lydia at least understands the male libido: 'Men are sex machines [...] and not much else. They only want one thing' (Atwood 1996:153). The Handmaid's dress/veil hides and reveals, conceals and displays, uplifts woman as virginal, yet insists on keeping her vaginal Another fantasy concerns the enigma of female sexuality for men. Freud in the 'Three Essays' admits that the erotic life of women is 'still veiled in an impenetrable obscurity' (quoted in Kofman 1987:40). Sarah Kofman paraphrases this Freudian position in The Enigma of Woman: 'If woman is silent, if she keeps a "thick veil" drawn over herself and her sex, she must have her reasons, and good reasons, for wishing to remain enigmatic: she has to hide that "cavity filled with pus"' (Kofman 1987:48). The latter is a quotation from Freud's Studies in Hysteria in which he describes the mouth of his patient, Irma. According to Freud, women's modesty or shame which moves them to cover themselves (with veils) springs from a desire to mask the natural defectiveness of their genital organs. There are shades of this idea in The Handmaid's Tale. Atwood describes the female body as 'a swamp, fenland'; she speaks about women's 'ripples of sloughed-off matter, swellings and diminishings of tissue, the droolings of the flesh' (Atwood 1996:83). Women in Gilead, never men, are 'damaged, defective' (Atwood 1996:215). Women's desire to cover herself, in Freud's male fantasy, is only an artifice: 'By this artifice they can excite

and charm men, who would otherwise recoil in horror before that gaping wound that threatens to contaminate them' (Kofman 1987:49). Atwood describes this artifice early in The Handmaid's Tale, in Chapter Five, when Offred and Ofglen meet up with a group of Japanese tourists. The passage is important and deserves to be quoted at length: The skirts reach just below the knee and the legs come out from beneath them, nearly naked in their thin stockings, blatant, the high-heeled shoes with their straps attached to the feet like delicate instruments of torture. The women teeter on their spiked feet as if on stilts, but off balance; their backs arch at the waist, thrusting the buttocks out. Their heads are uncovered and their hair too is exposed, in all its darkness and sexuality. They wear lipstick, red, outlining the damp cavities of their mouths.(Atwood 1996:38) It is not without interest that Atwood takes up Freud's term 'cavity' in this passage. It would seem evident that the author is at pains here to describe the unnatural mask of femininity that men force women to wear (just like the new uniforms of the Gilead rgime). Offred is both fascinated and repelled by this masquerade of feminine seduction which Atwood suggests debases, humiliates, distorts and causes pain to the female body. It is not until towards the end of The Handmaid's Tale, in section twelve (chapters 31-39), in which the brothel scene is described, that Atwood develops her treatment of femininity as masquerade. Officially the puritan Republic is against the masquerade. During the Manhattan Cleanup men tossed the masks and trappings of femininity onto bonfires: 'armfuls of silk and nylon and fake fur, lime-green, red, violet; black satin, gold lam, glittering silver; bikini underpants, see-through brassieres with pink satin hearts sewn on to cover the nipples' (Atwood 1996:242). During the Women's Prayvaganza, a Commander harangues the crowd: 'I will that women adorn themselves in modest apparel [...] with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array' (Atwood 1996:233). This moralizing rejection of what Irigaray calls 'the whole paraphernalia of beauty' is itself a masquerade. In presenting the Jezebel episode, Atwood points to men's blatant hypocrisy and their control over women's fashion, appearance and clothes. When Offred is coaxed into putting on her feathers, 'absurdly high heels' (Atwood 1996:243), lipstick, eyeliner and mascara, she is conscious of donning a disguise. She refers to herself as a travesty. Atwood uses stage language (theatrical, disguise, to paint your face, costume, backstage) to insist on the idea of the false and the artificial, what Derrida in Spurs refers to as the 'veiling dissimulation' (Derrida 1996:57). Offred ends up looking like the Whore of Babylon--but such is male fantasy. Only Moira is lucid enough to see through the fantasy to detect the politics of dress: 'They like to see you all painted up. Just another crummy power trip' (Atwood 1996:255). According to the Commander, women buy so many clothes to 'trick the men into thinking they [are] several different women' (Atwood 1996:249). We are back to Nietzsche's conception of women as actresses. At the end of the Jezebel section, Offred brings her act to a climax and convinces herself to fake orgasm with the Commander. ***

Derrida's logic of the hymen, according to which the veil is feminine symbol, is an attempt to displace the Freudian and Lacanian Law of the Phallus which offers a very different interpretation of the veil, this time as masculine symbol. In Chapters Nine and Ten of Le Sminaire. Livre IV, Lacan attributes absence and lack as the essential functions of the veil, in the context of a discussion of fetishism. He returns to the subject in 'The Signification of the Phallus', published in crits, where, following Joan Rivire, he associates femininity and the masquerade. Lacan would see Offred as an example of the fetishized, veiled Phallus, signifier of the desire of the Other, wearing the phallic mark of desire. Part of Atwood's skill is to have allowed for both logics to work at the same time.

Works Cited
Atwood, Margaret (1991) 'If You Can't Say Something Nice, Don't Say Anything At All' in George Galt (ed.) The Thinking Heart: Best Canadian Essays, Ontario: Quarry Press, pp. 13-23. ------. (1996) [1985] The Handmaid's Tale, London: Vintage. Derrida, Jacques (1981) [1972] Positions, trans. Alan Bass, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ------. (1996) [1978] Spurs: Nietzsche's Style, trans. Barbara Harlow, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ------. (1997) [1972] Dissemination, trans. Barbara Johnson, London: The Athlone Press. Faludi, Susan (1992) [1991] Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women, London: Vintage. Irigaray, Luce (1991) [1980] Marine Lover of Friedrich Nietzsche, trans. Gillian C. Gill, New York: Columbia University Press. ------. (1993) [1977] This Sex Which Is Not One, trans. Catherine Porter, New York: Cornell University Press. Kofman, Sarah (1987) [1980] The Enigma of Woman: Woman in Freud's Writings, trans. Catherine Porter, New York: Cornell University Press. Lacan, Jacques (1994) Le Sminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, Paris: Seuil. ------. (1977) [1966] crits: A Selection, trans. Alan Sheridan, New York: Norton. Nietzsche, Friedrich (1990) [1886] Beyond Good and Evil, trans. R. J. Hollingdale, Harmondsworth: Penguin. Rabine, Leslie Wahl (1990) 'The Unhappy Hymen between Feminism and Deconstruction' in Juliet Flower Mac Cannell (ed.) The Other Perspective in Gender and Culture: Rewriting Women and the Symbolic, New York: Columbia Press, pp. 20-38.

Rivire, Joan (1929) 'Womanliness as a Masquerade', International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 10:303-13. Yeenolu, Meyda (1998) Colonial Fantasies: Towards a Feminist Reading of Orientalism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Source Citation (MLA 7th Edition) Coad, David. "Hymens, Lips and Masks: The Veil in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale." Literature and Psychology 47.1 & 2 (2001): 54-67. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 246. Detroit: Gale, 2008. Literature Resource Center. Web. 1 Sep. 2012. Document URL http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CH1100079705&v=2.1&u=s057i&it=r&p=LitRC &sw=w

Gale Document Number: GALE|H1100079705 Top of page Previous 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Next

About Literature Resource Center Contact Us Copyright Terms of Use Privacy Policy