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Essay on Margaret Atwood’s Rape Fantasies

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Damarcus Fitzhugh Lenore Harris ENG 001B 11/18/2012 In most short stories of the past there have always been Heroes and Villains; good vs. evil. Whether it’s the innocent Hansel and Gretel vs. the evil cannibalistic witch; authors tended to paint the line separating the two through their uses of certain writing tools. The point Atwood attempts to drive into the reader is women’s naivety and overall downplay of rape. Margaret Atwood, author of Rape Fantasies, relies heavily on Irony and Characterization to get her point across. In the story Estelle, the narrator and main character, shares her rape fantasies along .

In all of them she is a victim, later in the story, we find out that the reason she has these thoughts about being raped is so that if she ever is in a situation like one where she might get raped, she wants to be prepared to avoid it and protect herself. This shows an unrealistic and naive view on what rape really is. She imagines the rapist to be the victim instead of her. As mentioned in the text, all the rapists she fantasizes about are victims of some sort of mental or physical trait considered undesirable Atwood uses characterization, specifically in Estelle, with whom she characterizes as condescending, sarcastic and negative at times.

She is a young office worker who notes how popular the subject "Rape" has become in women's magazines. Estelle is playing a game with her co-workers over their lunch hour, when Chrissy, a woman from Estelle's office, brings up the topic of rape fantasies. Estelle would rather just continue playing, but instead, the small group of ladies decides to go around the table sharing their own rape fantasies. (1) Darlene, the oldest, and the only divorced women of the group finds these fantasies revolting and ends up turning her back on the other ladies. later she returns, unable to resist the interesting taboo) (1) Chrissy and Sondra are very eager to share their "rape fantasies" but after they do Estelle informs them that they were not legitimate rape fantasies but merely romantic fantasies; she then describes a story of a man jumping her in a dark alley, or sneaking into her house when she is sick in bed. In all of Estelle's stories the men are pathetic, lonely individuals who have something "wrong" with them either mentally or physically.

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Here we see Estelle victimize the rapist in order to protect herself. She believes she can talk herself out of being raped. After sharing all the rape fantasies the story goes into a deeper monologue and a new light is shed on why Estelle's fantasies (1) all end the way they do. It is because she feels that after getting to know someone and getting a glimpse of what they think and how they feel there is no way a person would be able to rape the other; this theory contradicts almost every book that says women are usually raped by someone they know.

Irony is introduced within the conversations the women have. Moving from woman to woman, Darlene calling the entire thing "disgusting," Greta describing a Tarzan-like situation, Chrissy describing hers in a bath, when Estelle, ever the voice of reason, informs them that what they are describing are sexual fantasies: "Listen . . . those aren’t rape fantasies. I mean, you aren’t getting raped, it’s just some guy you haven’t met formally who happens to be more attractive than Derek Cummins . . and you have a good time, rape is when they’ve got a knife or something and you don’t want to". (1) Angered, the other women insist that she tell them hers. Content, Estelle then describes her rape fantasy where she deflects her rapist by squirting lemon juice from a plastic bottle in his eyes ("You should hear the one about the Easy Off Cleaner"), and the one where "this short, ugly fellow comes up and grabs my arm . . .

I say, “Oh for Christ sake,’ and he starts to cry," which prompts a wave of sympathy in Estelle. And there’re more, all with Estelle stopping her attacker through talking to him ("I’ve just found out I have leukemia"), or talking him out of it. (1) As the story continues, we become aware that Estelle is talking to someone in addition to the reader--"I hope you don’t mind me holding my nose like this . . . " and that person is probably a man (two times Estelle says, "But I guess it’s different for a guy").

As the story ends, we realize that Estelle has been in a bar, talking to a man she had just met, she worries about possibly being raped by him. "Like, how could a fellow do that to a person he’s just had a long conversation with, once you let them know you’re human, you have a life too, I don’t see how they could go ahead with it, right? " (Last Paragraph) We are left wondering whether this entire story is Estelle’s deliberate inventions, her attempt to control a dangerous interaction. Citation Atwood, Margaret. Rape Fantasies. S. l. : S. n. , .. ]. Print.

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