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Character Analysis of Estelle in Atwood’s Rape Fantasies

Character Analysis of Estelle in Atwood’s Rape Fantasies

Estelle is the only thoroughly developed character in Margaret Atwood’s “Rape Fantasies.” Though she is the narrator and quite thoughtful of the ideas and reactions of the story’s supporting players, it is her almost obsessive preoccupation with a singular topic that actually prompts her to fully illustrate her own ideas and reactions, drawing a character far more compelling than any of the men or women she will attempt to describe. Estelle begins her story and ruminations swiftly. She considers rape, how rape has recently been treated like a new scourge, and how essays and tips on rape prevention have become something of an institution themselves. Estelle recalls a conversation during a recent bridge game, where “rape fantasies” was the topic and her lunchmates each offered a feeling about it, from disgust to confusion to admitted interest in elaborate, particular fantasies. Estelle, during the course of these conversations, makes observations about the women, subtly revealing her method of focus and her sense of the important, telling less about the characters of the women and more about Estelle herself. These constant, critical, and often silly observations are the very thing which clearly draws the character of this narrator. Her disregard for dreadful concepts and her ability to make light of serious situations are the very character qualities that make believable her carelessness in the end.

The anecdotes about each of the bridge players indicates the comfort Estelle finds in gossip, unfair criticism, and the sharing of the particulars of her own rape fantasies. Estelle tells of a moment when one of the bridge players, Darlene, seemed to address h…

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…serious concepts and silly ones; and it is these transitions that reveal the contradictions in her thinking that she is unable to recognize. Estelle is unsure of some of the most important rape questions but is somehow satisfied in this uncertainty. The author shows this attitude to be a constant in Estelle’s character, present whether she considers concrete or abstract ideas; and it is this trait, so deeply embedded in her very fiber, that negatively affects her humor, creativity, and other redeeming qualities so completely. In the end–after she has reiterated herself to be vulnerable and sympathetic to strangers, and after she has made this clear to none other than a complete stranger–she considers the idea of rape in a vague statement: “I know it happens but I just don’t understand it, that’s the part I really don’t understand.” And there is little wonder why.

A Comparison of Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet and Machiavelli’s The Prince

A Comparison of Prince Hamlet and Machiavelli’s The Prince

Machiavelli states that “it is necessary for a prince, who wishes to maintain himself, to learn how not to be good, and use this knowledge and not use it, according to the necessity of the case.” Machiavelli’s ideas both compare and contrast to the methods used by Hamlet. Hamlet’s desire to drive the king mad and eventually kill him, is what he thinks he must do in order to set things right. Hamlet struggles to maintain his position as prince. Perhaps he lacks the essential qualities of a prince outlined by Machiavelli.

According to Machiavelli, the pursuit of all things regarded as virtuous and praiseworthy will only lead to the prince’s ruin. This is completely true in the case of Hamlet, because he is on a quest to avenge his father’s death. The battle between good and evil is constantly in the forefront of Hamlet’s mind, as he wavers between acting civil or getting revenge outright. In the beginning, Hamlet struggles to remain good at all times, but this causes him extreme anguish. Hamlet is an honest man, who grieves for his father. He suffers because of the dishonesty of the others in the court, especially his mother and his uncle, and later, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Hamlet is able to see through them all, and realize that they’re dishonest. He speaks these words to Guildenstern: “Anything but to th’ purpose. You were sent for, and there is a kind of confession in your looks, which your modesties have not craft enough to colour. I know the good King and Queen have sent for you.” (Hamlet, II, ii., 278-280)

Hamlet’s honesty is also seen when he is speaking with his mother. In act I, scene ii, Gertrude asks him why the de…

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…e his goal was to get and retain power. He wanted to prove Claudius to be an unfit king, and he did so, but only as Hamlet himself was about to die. Hamlet had to cause grief by killing the king, but in the end, he is seen as a hero, because he unmasked his father’s killer.

Sources Cited and Consulted:

Gray, Terry A. “Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet.”

Jones, W. T. Masters of Political Thought. Ed. Edward, McChesner, and Sait. Vol. 2. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1947.

Lee A. Jacobus. A World of Ideas: Essential Readings for College Writers. 5th edition. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1998.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. Trans. Hill Thompson. Norwalk: The Easton Press, 1980.

Shakespeare, William. The Three-Text Hamlet. Eds. Paul Bertram and Bernice Kliman. New York: AMS Press, 1991.

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