Citation: Gardner, E. (2022). John Maxwell Coetzee’s Disgrace: Navigating the Antiheroine’s Internalised Misogyny: Transformative Female Friendship in Cat’s Eye and The Robber Bride. IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijl.11.1.05
This paper focuses on Margaret Atwood’s novels, Cat’s Eye and The Robber Bride, as well as her short story “I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth” in order to examine her complex construction of the elusive antiheroine, a figure who ultimately challenges the archetypal femme fatale, despite initially masquerading as the femme, villain, and antagonist of the text. The conclusions of Cat’s Eye and The Robber Bride situate forgiveness as significantly important in the Gothic antiheroine’s redemption and suggest that there is power in ambiguity, for both Cordelia and Zenia remain unknowable in their motives and perceptions. Yet while the protagonists’ reconciliation with the dark Gothic double results in the relinquishment of internalised misogyny and subsequent realignment with the self, the very notion of forgiveness implies a (somewhat misplaced) wrongdoing. I argue that by framing Cordelia’s and Zenia’s acts as needing an explanation or absolution, their behaviour becomes unnatural, abject, and deviant, as opposed to being overtly read as consequences of a patriarchal system. The transgressions of Cordelia and Zenia in Cat’s Eye and The Robber Bride thus border the line between villainy and antiheroism in ambiguous ways, reinforcing the Gothic antiheroine’s liminal existence between denunciation and adherence to patriarchal norms.
abjection, antiheroine, Atwood, female friendship, Gothic