The Discourses of Science and Art: Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood

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Discourses in a novel often allow people in the know, to understand particular meaning within certain topics or issues. For instance, a discourse of Calculus in a novel would be relevant to those who study and know the subject. They would pick up on the meaning conveyed within this discourse, whereas people not familiar can only make uneducated guesses. In Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood, there are many discourses on offer. Atwood focuses on fictional, autobiographical, scientific and artistic discourses. Which are subtly included in all aspects of the text, mainly in literary devices and the structure of the novel itself.

The discourses of fiction and autobiography are juxtaposed in Cat's Eye with the intention of allowing insiders to know, and outsiders to assume meaning contained by the subtle presence of discourses. Cat's Eye is set in Toronto where Atwood grew up, and the attitudes towards the picturesque capital of Canada are somewhat bitter and full of nostalgic reflection. The main character, Elaine, states on page 14 of the book; ‘Underneath the flourish and ostentation is the old city, street after street of thick red brick houses… their watchful, calculating windows. Malicious, grudging, vindictive, implacable. In my dreams of this city I am always lost.' Just the building of a character cannot account for the heavy and distinct feeling of resentment directed at the city and everything in it. Atwood's father, was a forest entomologist, just as Elaine's father was, Atwood spent her childhood in Ottawa during the winters and the rest of the year in northern Quebec and Ontario. In 1946, her father took up a position as professor at the University of Toronto, and the family moved to there. The parallels between the lives of the author and the main female character, Elaine, are undeniable. The reader cannot know for certain that Atwood herself experienced bullying, but it is obvious not just in Cat's Eye but in some of her other works that she...
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