Literature has relevance in that it, as well as manifestations of it, reveal insights into the human condition. Speeches are such an example and it is this relationship between text and ideals that can relate to different contexts and different audiences. A speech is relevant even if it evokes a negative response. It still holds an element of altering attitudes for particular audiences.
Atwood’s speech “Spotty Handed Villainesses” gives us an insight into the nature of fiction and its portrayal of the feminine, as it challenges the existing notions of ‘women behaving badly’. Martin Luther King Jr’s speech “I have a dream” deals with the nature of the marginalised and the quest for freedom. Both texts challenge the perceptions of ‘the other’ being our society and appeal to our post- modern, fragmented world and numerous discourses. These speeches are worthy as they expose relevant issues that affect the contemporary world.
Atwood’s speech deals with the issue of feminism and the perceived view of it being evil, in context this is a very topical issue as it was written in a period of an ongoing clash between the feminist and counter feminist movement- An area of academic interest. The speech engages this academic audience through the use of literary allusions to ‘Medea, Lady Macbeth and Becky Sharp’. Atwood distinguishes herself from the feminist movement by challenging their view that evil women should not be depicted in literature, as she highlights that they would be an accurate reflection of society prevalent in the cumulative listing of “the murderers, the seducers, the espionage agents, the cheats”. “Spotty Handed Villainesses” has evoked many negative responses including Feminist Jane Dough’s criticism for ‘selling out on the cause of the Women’s movement’.
Atwood employs humour to engage her audience, prevalent in the extended allusion of ‘Something other...