You are on page 1of 2

Margaret Atwood Spotty Handed Villainess Context of the speech: Margaret Atwood, a well-known Canadian writer, gave her

speech Spotty handed Villainesses to various groups in 1994. Most of the audiences would have been highly educated, giving the address at events such as the American Bookseller Convention and many luncheons for women. Atwood, a former university lecturer, assumes that her audience would include well-educated fiction readers who would be able to respond to the many literary allusions. During the time of her address, society was going through a contemporary movement, particularly in regard to feminist views of women in life and art. Purpose of the Speech: The purpose of Atwoods discursive speech is to present an entertaining, informing and challenging argument, exploring the dichotomy of good and bad women in literature, examining the political correctness and female representation in literature. Values Underpinning it: Atwood plays on the values that she shares with her audience, drawing allusions from religion. She compares the novelist to God creating the world in Genesis, God started with chaos dark, without form and void and so does the novelist. This serves to give the audience more understanding of the point Atwood is trying to convey (how novels are written) by comparing it to a well-known story. Way Speaker Establishes rapport: From the beginning of the speech, Atwood establishes rapport through her humorous tone, with a familiar nursery rhyme. She effectively communicates with the audience analysing her reactions as a five year old in terms of the psychiatrist Jung, it brought home to me the deeply Jungian possibilities of a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde double life for women. Atwood employs a series of rhetorical questions near the beginning of the speech, which are designed to make her audience ponder the answers to the questions, and it is implied that they will be answered over the course of the speech. She creates a personal tone by addressing her audience directly you probably got the idea. She draws her audience into the speech, keeping their interest levels again by talking to her audience directly Id bet youre more likely to know which play Iago is in. Structure of the speech: Atwoods speech is a lengthy free flowing dialogue on womens role as literary characters and how this generally reflects social context. Structured in forty-nine paragraphs she uses wit and humour to entertain and maintain audiences interest.

On several occasions throughout the speech, Atwood poses a rhetorical question at the beginning of a paragraph, and then proceeds to answer it in the remainder of the paragraph. This structural technique draws the audience into the speech, by inviting them to consider the question themselves, and then allows Atwood to impart her views on the matter. Use of Language: Throughout the speech Atwood uses many literary allusions to show that Villainesses have starred plenteously in worlds famous literature but she considers whether this was somewhat challenged by 20th century womens movement and assumed by some feminist critics to be necessarily victims of patriarchal oppression. Her definition of the title spotty-handedness is an allusion to Lady MacBeths spot, giving the address some added humour, especially with the connotations of spotty hands. By using literary allusions Atwood legitimacy to her topic, female bad behaviour in literature by providing references and examples. Attwood wittily wonders if the audience was reminded of The Menopause, satirising the way certain topics become fashionable, and follows this quip with parody on the word memorabilia with female-obilia amusing her audience. Atwood creates a personal atmosphere of the speech by relating anecdote and personal experiences, which are relevant to her topic, I had curls. Atwood repeats the clause Novels are not... at the beginning of several paragraphs. This use of anaphora serves to highlight to her audience about the purposes of a novel. Her use of punctuation, which includes frequent dashes, commas, colons and semicolons, give the speech a conversational effect. Atwood calls to her audience for Women characters to arise! This imperative demonstrates the idea that women characters need not be villains, conveying the feminist tone of the speech. Her onomatopoeic sounds gender and genre, alliteration sex-saint and frequent rhetorical questions What is a novel? sustain audiences interest. In a flippant tone Atwood colloquially states Shakespeare is not big on breakfast openings and juxtaposes author and critic in a humorous analogy of bank robbery to engage her audience. Her colloquial vocabulary like sex bomb evoke audiences interest while bathos in happiness with a good man...woman... pet canary, numerous literary allusions like Medea and occasional intellectual terms like pronatalist establish a connection with her literary educated audience reflecting her intellectual capacity. Towards the end of her speech Atwood employs the metaphor, Many doors stand ajar, others beg to be unlocked. This expresses the opportunities, which females have, and which hare denied to them from her perspective. It also inspires a feminist tone. She concludes that the many-dimensionality of women needs to be given literary expression and repeats a quote by a feminist Rebecca West In us to reinforce and give credibility to her argument.