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Updated Up To 18/01/2017
Volume 11, Issue 1 (January 2013) : 109-132
Margaret Atwood’s Feminist Ethics of Gracious Housewifery

Tammy Amiel Hauser
Rubric A: Literature and Ethics
Rubric B: Twentieth-Century Novel



The article explores Margaret Atwood’s engagement with the ethics of hospitality as manifested in her novel The Blind Assassin (2000) and the short story “The Art of Cooking and Serving” (2006). It claims that these works point to an ethical vision which is best understood in light of the philosophical ideas of radical hospitality suggested by Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida but with an important feminist revision. Focusing on allusions to an inspiring cookbook, prominent in the two works by Atwood, the article analyzes the works’ appropriation and reformulation of the feminine myth of gracious housewifery for signifying both the subject’s obligation to the other and the ideal of generous giving and attentive care. It addresses the conflict that Atwood stages between a feminist critique of the duty of hospitality imposed on women and the ethical view of the subject’s un-chosen and absolute responsibility to another.

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