Unweaving the Shroud: A Feminist Stylistic Analysis of the Chorus of the Maids in Atwood's The Penelopiad

Document Type : Original Article


Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Arts, Cairo University


This paper investigates the function of the chorus of the maids in Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad and analyzes its most important episodes from a feminist stylistic perspective. The aim of the paper is to explore how textual justice is achieved for the maids as subalterns though structure and language. The main argument is based on the recent feminist readings of the Odyssey where the murder of the maids by Odysseus upon his return on the ground of their collaboration with Penelope's suitors comes out as unfair and unjustified since they were slaves and only acted upon Penelope's instructions as part of her scheme to keep the suitors entertained and occupied. It is a situation where class and gender oppression leads to the maids' loss of agency, voice and even their own lives. This paper examines how the text as a contemporary adaptation of the Odyssey allows the maids a representational space linguistically and structurally.