Confessional Writing: On Truth and Sexuality in Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin

  • 陳 琦欣

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


This thesis aims to explore confessional writing as a means of presenting truth and reconstructing authority through disclosing sexual trauma in Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin Iris Chase has been haunted by a deep sense of guilt for almost a lifetime in that she was blind toward the plight of her sister Laura and thus culpable of causing Laura’s death To compensate for the tragedy the old Iris initiates an act of confessing through writing She utilizes multilayered narratives to tell the truth; however the summing of narratives does not totally clarify the truth but reveals how the narratives can be manipulated to subvert their limits with different functions and representations The thesis is composed of four parts The introduction states criticism on female protagonists’ passivity in Margaret Atwood’s novels and a confessional mode of writing blooming as a feminist genre The first chapter illustrates why the summing of narratives confuses most readers even though the narratives attempt to lead readers to the origin of the tragedy Iris’s dilemma can be understood from a confessant’s mentality but her construction of reality with abundant description of material objects cannot present a convincing truth The second chapter explains Iris’s postponement of revelation and displacement of authorship to Laura and then argues that a higher realty still can be constructed through the summing of narratives The third chapter begins with Michel Foucault’s discourse on confession in Sexuality discussing revealing the truth of sex has long been established as a tradition of confession While painfully disclosing sexual trauma in her memoir Iris has gradually awakened Accusing patriarchal society of sexual oppression and exploitation in the novella “The Bind Assassin” helps her successfully take revenge Iris eventually gains her own authority in the spiral of power and pleasure under the surface of achieving the therapeutic effect of catharsis
Date of Award2014 Jun 25
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJeff Johnson (Supervisor)

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