As the earliest and most sustained of Atwood’s attempts to examine the potentially deadly conflict between a woman’s artistry and female identities, Lady Oracle has often been read as a text that must necessarily be considered alongside Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s influential film, The Red Shoes. Yet absent from previous analyses is a discussion of how this conflict is perpetuated though the female artist tradition, and how Joan Delacourt’s habitual overeating indicates her self-destruction, rather than her self-empowerment, in the face of conflict. Moreover, while Joan’s obesity aligns with the self-harm anticipated by what Atwood terms ‘the Red Shoes syndrome,’ her projecting her creative talents onto alternate identities can be read as a dissociative survival strategy that, for a time, permits her to maintain her divided identity as a woman artist.


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pp. 902-923
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