Rape Fantasies By Margaret Atwood Essay

Irony is the use of words to express something different from and opposite to
their literal meaning. It is used with tone and style to create humorous
situations. There are various forms of irony. Margaret Atwood uses situational
irony, dramatic irony, and verbal irony in “Rape Fantasies”.

Situational irony refers to circumstances in which bad things happen to good
people, or in which rewards are not earned because forces beyond human
comprehension seem to be in total control. Margaret Atwood uses situational
irony in Estelle’s first rape fantasy. Rapists are violent criminals that
violate women physically, mentally, and emotionally. Estelle’s would-be rapist
is patient and understanding. You’re intending to rape me, right? and he nods,
so I open my purse to get the plastic lemon, and I can’t find it!… so I ask
him to hold out his hands, like this and I pile all this junk into them and down
at the bottom there’s the plastic lemon, and I can’t get the top off. So I hand
it to him and he’s very obliging, he twists the top off, and hands it back to
me, and I squirt him in the eye.” (277) In dramatic irony, characters have
only a nonexistent, partial, incorrect, or misguided understanding of what is
happening to them. All of Estelle’s rape fantasies start out as serious
situations, but quickly turn absurd. In Estelle’s fantasy, the rapist has a cold
and should be home in bed. The rapist allows Estelle to take care of him and
forgets why he climbed in her window. “…god knows why he even bothered to
get out of bed, you’d think if you were going to go around climbing in windows
you’d wait until you were healthier, right? I mean, that takes a certain amount
of energy. So I ask him why doesn’t he let me fix him a NeoCitran and scotch,
that’s what I always take, you still have the cold but you don’t feel it, so I
do and we end up watching the Late Show together.” (279) Word choice is the
characteristic of verbal irony, in which what is meant is usually the opposite
of what is said. A good example of verbal irony is when the rapist grabs
Estelle’s arm. Estelle says, sad and dignified, “You’d be raping a
corpse.” (280) Margaret Atwood uses these different forms of irony to
create a humorous story out of a serious situation. Women having rape fantasies
is ironic in itself. Without all the ironic situations, this story would be
boring and bland.

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Atwood, Margaret. “Rape Fantasies”. Literature: An Introduction to
Reading and Writing. Eds. Roberts, Edgar V. and Jacobs, Henry E. 1998:275-281


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