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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Feminist Theory in Angela Carter’s The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman

“These tattoos were designed as a whole and covered the back and both arms down as far as the forearms; and the middle of the chest, the upper abdomen and the throat and face were all left bare on the males though the womenfolk were tattooed all over, even their faces, in order to cause them more suffering, for they believed that women were born only to suffer” (172).

An individual reading this passage describing the centaur civilization in Carter’s book could easily do so with a feminist analysis. The fact that it is a male-dominated society is explicit even though the evidence is just this small passage. The male centaurs are tattooed to enhance their aesthetic beauty while the females are tattooed excessively to cause extra pain because suffering is the “woman’s place” in society. Also, by making such a harsh distinction between male and female, the female is put into the group of “the other” because “they believed that women were born to suffer”. They are distinguished physically by their tattoos and their genders roles are distinguished by the relative amount of pain their tattoos cause.

1 comment:

  1. The tattoos definitely seem like an institutional barrier or a way for female characters within the novel to conform to the existing patriarchy. This can also be viewed as differences between "men" and "women" (discussed by Hall) within Carter's text, where men's tattoos represent beauty and women's tattoos represent pain.