This essay concerns the criticism towards patriarchy in Margaret Atwood’s novel Cat’s Eye. The scope of the investigation is limited to Atwood’s portrayal of three of the male characters and the protagonist Elaine’s relationship with them and her response to their patriarchal roles, although the criticism towards patriarchy can be seen in other aspects of the novel as well. The essay deals with the question: In what ways do the male characters of Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye represent patriarchy, and what is Elaine’s response to their patriarchal roles?
The conclusion of the research question shows that Elaine’s brother Stephen, the fathers of her childhood friends and her husband Jon all can be seen as representatives of patriarchy as they are portrayed as oppressive, violent and superior to the women around them. Elaine’s brother practises a form of oppression over Elaine when they as children play games which he always win; he thus teaches her to be a victim under patriarchy, and Elaine willingly conforms to this role. The fathers of Elaine’s childhood friends are described as oppressive and violent heads of their families, but Elaine does not recognise the consequences of their oppressive behaviour and misrepresent the terror she experiences during her childhood as being inflicted by women, while Atwood provides proof that it is the father’s of her friends who are the origins of the oppression. Elaine’s husband Jon also practices patriarchal influence over Elaine as their relationship and subsequent marriage are based upon social norms of patriarchy where Elaine is expected to take care of the home while Jon has more freedom and has the right to criticize Elaine, but not vice versa.
Thus, one can see that Atwood through this novel underlines how the social structure of patriarchy pervades people in their relation to one another by giving the male characters oppressive characteristics and showing how Elaine is affected by and responds to their...