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As an Egyptian and frequently traveling to Egypt and understanding the tradition and culture that has been kept for decades, it is almost mandatory for each family to have a maid working in the house. In comparison with Alias Grace, my family in Egypt has a maid who helps clean and cook, she helps with certain tasks around the house and gets paid for her job. The bases of Alias Grace are the servants that work in the houses, and live there. Although based upon the Victorian era, there is a very big significance and similarity to my experiences and witnessing first-hand the work of a maid. There is a very significant connection between my experience of having a maid around the house and Grace and her friends being servants themselves.
In the novel Alias Grace, a medical practitioner named, Dr. Jerome DuPont, insisted on hypnotizing Grace to retrieve her lost memories and finally find out if Grace is innocent or guilty of the murder. Grace agrees to the hypnosis so that she can finally have closure on whether she committed the crime or not. This section of the novel connects very well with society where criminologists and governmental officials still use this method in certain cases so that the individual can account for their memories. In an article published in the early 2000’s “The Effect of Forensic Hypnosis Techniques on Eyewitness” a social experiment was conducted where a mock assassination took place in a classroom, the students were placed in groups where some received hypnosis and others not. Hypnosis proved in the situation of the mock assassination that it is successful.
Literary theory is applicable in this novel and is portrayed in many different ways. Females are often portrayed as stay-at-home moms, who clean, cook and please a man with their body. Atwood explores female sexuality deeply through Grace and the female servants in the novel. Although Mr.Kinnear being a wealthy man, he was not married but had two servants, one was Grace and the other Nancy. Mr.Kinnear took advantage of Nancy and her beauty and would sleep with her from time to time, he would mock her and speak unpleasantly and sexually to her.
‘You know why god women in skirts, it’s so they can be pulled over their heads and tied at the top, that way you don’t get so much noise from them, I hate a screeching slut, women should be born without mouths on them, The only thing of use to them is what is below the waist’ (Atwood 283).
The quote depicts the way women are seen and treated in the novel, it proves how gender roles are very significant and provide evidence of life in the Victorian era. Atwood explores and examines the public and private sphere’s where men and women are given specific roles. The quote emphasizes the women’s job at home and the man’s job to work and come home to be pleased by his wife or servants.
Furthermore, Atwood is depicting the life of women and the importance of status and social class using simile and imagery to explain the reality Grace was living in, and how the Victorian era affected her life. In the novel Alias Grace, Grace stated,
“It’s a wonder they can sit down at all, and when they walk, nothing touches their legs under the billowing skirts, except their shifts and stockings. They are like swans, drifting along on unseen feet; or else like the jellyfish in the waters of the rocky harbor near our house, when I was little, before I ever made the long sad journey across the ocean. They were bell-shaped and ruffled, gracefully waving and lovely under the sea; but if they washed up on the beach and dried out in the sun there was nothing left of them. And that is what the ladies are like: mostly water”.
This quote emphasizes the notion of Marxist theory, and feminist theory, where women wanted to be wealthy without contributing to society, to be of high class and to treat others below them such as the proletariats as nothing. Grace is using simile to compare upper class women to jellyfish, where she emphasizes that they are insubstantial. The quote depicts what Marry Whitney taught Grace about the upper-class and that just like the lower and working classes, the women have no power, other than their beauty; feminist theory is applicable in this case where imagery is used to describe the women and their billowing skirts, stockings, and the ocean although in the end, they are being used by the men.
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