Utopian Feminism in Angela Carter

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Essay on feminism


<p>Utopian Feminism in Angela Carters Nights at the CircusThe feminism of Nights at the Circus is complex in that it brings together more than one strand of feminism and a subversive utopian feminism. [endnoteRef:1] [1: M.Michel and A. Carter. Angela Carters Nights at the Circus: an engaged feminis via subversive postmodern strategies. University Wiscosin Press. Http:// www. Jstor.org/stable/1208693 Accessed 6/8/12] </p> <p>According to Michael, Lizzie represents the Marxist strand while Fevvers represents the Utopian feminism, which is subversive in nature, but utopian feminists aims lack the skeptical nature of other strands of feminism. According to Peel, Utopias reveal the tension between narrative and description[endnoteRef:2] and a utopia would represent a static description and it cannot be narrated because a story needs conflict, desire or unhappiness to generate the energy to launch it.[endnoteRef:3] So In the novel, both strands represent a more complete view on feminism, the need to have a vision but also the need to bear the material world in mind, which will always involve means of production that will set the role of women in society in a way of another. The First sign of Fevvers utopian feminism are present regarding her physical appearance: she was a big girl[endnoteRef:4] and this may imply she is a kind of amazona, who takes a typical, expansive and active attitude, more usually associated to men. In the beginning of the novel, she overwhelms Walser by taking an active role in her own interview and her strong masculine grip. But at the same time, this attitude is reversed when Fevvers consciously acts flirtatious and vain. Therefore, Fevvers femininity can be seen in a dichotomy, she is a subject who looks forward to living her life in her own term (utopian vision) but at the same time she is an object. She even her expresses this by saying I served my apprenticeship in being looked at- at being the object of the eye of the beholder.[endnoteRef:5] However, Fevvers manipulation of her own objectification gives her an advantage over men because she is used in the way she wants to and obtains money from them. Her looks, her ability to manipulate men and her uniqueness, her wings, give her confidence. [2: E.Peel. Utopian feminism, skeptical feminism and narrative energy. Published in L.F Jones and S westergoodwin. Feminism utopia and narrative. University of Tennessee, Tennessee, 1990. ] [3: Idem] [4: A. Carter. Nights at the Circus.] [5: Idem] </p> <p>Another example of Fevverss utopian thought is exposed when she expresses her wish to abolish money, when she saw the Grand Dukes palace and this idea is challenged by Lizzies Marxist thought:But Lizzie would wistle through her moustache at Fevvers naivity and reply: the baker cant make a loaf of bread out of your private, duckie, and thats all youd have to offer him in exchange for a crust if nature hadnt made you the kind of spectacle people pay good money to see.[endnoteRef:6] [6: Idem] </p> <p>So Lizzie realizes that women are firstly and foremost subjects of economical status and situation and not only patriarchy. However, the most remarkable clash between utopian feminism and Marxist feminism occurs when Vera and Olga express their wish to form a society where they will need no more fathers by using the sperm of passing by men to procreate and not allowing men in their community and Lizzie expresses the implausibility of the success of this society by saying Whatll they do with the boys babies? Feed em to the polar bears? To the female polar bears?</p>