Re-charting the present: feminist revision of canonical narratives by contemporary women writers
Crawford, Amy S.
In this thesis, I explore the textual strategy of feminist revision employed by contemporary women writers. After investigating Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea as a prototype of feminist revision, I focus specifically on Angela Carter’s “The Bloody Chamber” as a revision of Charles Perrault’s “Bluebeard,” Michèle Roberts’s The Book of Mrs Noah as a revision of the Old Testament Flood narrative, Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad as a revision of Homer’s Odyssey and the Troy narratives, and Ursula K. Le Guin’s Lavinia as a revision of Vergil’s Aeneid. Through investigating the historical and literary contexts of each revisioned text, I identify the critical focus of the revision and analyse the textual effect produced by the revision. In each case, the feminist revision exposes the underlying ideological assumptions of the source text. By rewriting the canonical narrative from an alternative perspective, each revision extends beyond the source text, altering meaning and reinterpreting key symbols for feminist ends.