Date Thesis Awarded

5-2020

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

English

Advisor

Melanie Dawson

Committee Members

Jennifer Putzi

Keith Johnson

Claire McKinney

Abstract

Extreme occurrences that disrupt day-to-day normality can make it easier to spot phenomena that normally slip unnoticed. This is one of the benefits of speculative fictions: their often extreme and disrupted settings provide new perspectives. In this paper, I analyze Margaret Atwood’s speculative trilogy, Oryx and Crake (2004), The year of the flood (2009), and MaddAddam (2013) focusing on how Atwood pays special attention to highlighting issues of physical and cultural toxicity. I will examine the ways in which Atwood highlights and confronts toxicity, and argue that she suggests alternatives to capitalism through pointing out how another socio-economic structure can be less harmful. I will first discuss ecofeminism and the ecofeminist background that influences my perspective. I will then define and discuss toxicity, and use Todd Haynes’ 1995 film Safe to exemplify how toxicity affects women disproportionately, in many different ways. Finally, I will engage in discourse about the toxic elements Atwood portrays in her hyper-capitalist society, and address the ways in which Atwood’s restructuring of society can be read as demonstrating socialist ecofeminist ideals, by using beekeeping and beehives as a metaphor for societal structures. In discussing the structure of bee society as a metaphor for ecofeminist ideology, I will compare the struggles of the protagonist of Kotevska and Stefanov’s 2019 documentary film Honeyland to Toby’s struggle against toxic capitalistic ideals and use of beekeeping ideology to form a new society in MaddAddam.

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