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Persephone in Canadian fiction Evans, Jane 1978

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PERSEPHONE IN CANADIAN FICTION by - Jane Evans • A., University of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1976 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Dept. of English) We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA A p r i l , 1978 Jane Evans, 1978 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s in p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the requ i rement s f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Co lumb i a , I ag ree that the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and s tudy . I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be g r a n t e d by the Head o f my Department or by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . It i s u n d e r s t o o d tha t c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be a l l o w e d w i thout my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department o f The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Co lumbia 2075 Wesbrook P l a c e V a n c o u v e r , Canada V6T 1W5 ABSTRACT Persephone i n Canadian F i c t i o n The shaping of a work of a r t has i t s ground i n the archetypal images i n the mind of i t s creator. The novelist uses those myths which are true for him or her. When mythic c r i t i c i s m i s applied to the work of a male writer, the themes are commonly recognisable, p a r t i c u l a r l y that of the Odyssey, the great male quest. For women, however, theequestLcannottbeethattoffthe-wanderer, seeking to recon-c i l e the psyche of the blood-thirsty warrior to a l i f e of peace. The female quest must seek a d i f f e r e n t r e c o n c i l i a t i o n , that of a union of the great female figures of maiden, mother, and aged woman. This i s the e a r l i e s t and most powerful of archetypes and i s personified i n mythic terms as the Persephone-Demeter-Hecate t r i a d . There has been, i n recent years, an attempt on the part of Canadian writers to come to terms with t h i s myth, and with the se l f - a c t u a l i s e d personality i t represents. These three beings are at the same time one and separate; they are multi-facetted, yet represent the great p r i n c i p l e s of f e r t i l i t y and i t s obverse, death. The legend i s well known: the maiden Persephone, while pick-ing flowers, i s abducted and raped by Pluto, King of the Dead, Her mother, the corn Goddess Demeter, searches for her the world over, decreeing i n her despair- that, u n t i l her daughter i s found, nothing s h a l l grow. At l a s t , through the intervention of Hecate and the Gods, mother and daughter are re-united and the land again made f r u i t f u l , Persephone i s , however, Queen of the Dead; nothing can change t h i s . Nevertheless, l i k e the corn, the Kore, or arche-typal maiden, i s ete r n a l l y renewed. She i s an i n t e g r a l part of the cycle of l i f e and death i n which the green corn becomes the yellow corn and dies to be reborn. In the psychological context, we can see t h i s as the rationale for the death of l i f e i n winter and an assurance that there w i l l be renewal. The Great Goddess embodies a l l women; " i n a single figure which was at once mother and daughter, she could represent a l l the motifs that recur i n a l l mothers and daughters," Thus there must be Karl Kerenyi, Eleusis (New York: Pantheon Books, 1967), p. 32. - i i i -elements of t h i s relationship wherever there are mothers and daughters. In t h i s paper I w i l l show that women writers i n Canada, p a r t i c u l a r l y two of our most important, Margaret Atwood and Margaret Laurence, have been making extensive use of t h i s myth. I t occurs i n many forms; even where not used overtly, i t s resonances can be f e l t . The mother-daughter rela t i o n s h i p i s now being seen as the prime source of psychic strength for women; u n t i l a union of understanding i s reached, characters are t o r -mented and unable to mature, Hagar Shipley has despised her mother and i s unable to free h e r s e l f from the marble embrace of i n h i b i t t e d emotion; only i n her journey into the unconscious can she f i n d wholeness of s e l f , Rachel, i n Jest of God, must also descend, but into an actual kingdom of the dead, to see he r s e l f as more than just a figure of s t e r i l i t y . The youthful Vanessa, of B i r d i n the House, i s a strong and f o r t h r i g h t character who sees her grandfather as the centre of her world. Her struggles to break the hold of t h i s p a t r i a r c h a l figure show her that i t i s the women i n her l i f e , her mother, grandmother, aunt, who have been the true world, and the wound which w i l l not heal i s the loss of her mother. The Diviners, i n the ambiguity of i t s t i t l e , hints that Morag i s not simply a seeker a f t e r personal f u l f i l l m e n t , but on a greater and more archetypal quest, Margaret Atwood's work i s not so much the mythic journey as the shamanistic retreat inward and downward into a region of supernatural wonder. In Surfacing, the nameless heroine must break the hold of the father from the depths before she can be re-united with her true s e l f which seeks the elemental mother. She her s e l f seeks to be the gateway through which the mythical c h i l d can be born to reform the c i r c l e , Atwood's use of strongly feminine symbolism—water, mirrors, tunnels, l a b y r i n t h s — i n t e n s i f i e s our p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the myth. P a r t i c u l a r l y i n Lady Oracle, symbols are the means by which Joan hopes to gather together a w i l f u l l y disintegrated personality. Her f a i l u r e i s one of time, not intent; her moment has not (and may never) come. These two writers are the culmination of a movement that has i t s roots i n a l l female work. There are p a r a l l e l s i n the work of a r t i s t s such as Ostenso, Wilson, and Munro, As women have t r i e d i n the past to use the.Odyssean quest, so there are men writers who are incorporating the Demeter quest into t h e i r work; I hope to show the relevance of t h i s i n the development of the myth, Canadian l i t e r a t u r e has made extensive use of archetypes. In the growing strength of our women writers, we can see a whole new mythic dimension i n t h i s use of the oldest and most pervasive archetype. S o c i a l l y and psychologically relevant, i t i s i n d i c a t i v e of the growing subtlety of the female a r t i s t i c consciousness. - i v -Table of Contgnts Preface....................'•...'.....•..page 1 Chapter!1 : Introduction................page 7 Chapter 2 : Margaret L a u r e n c e . . p a g e 1 8 Chapter 3 : Margaret A t w o o d . . . p a g e 4 6 Chapter 4 : Conclusion. ... ............ .. .page 7 1 Selected Bibliography.......... ........page 8 4 Persephone i n Canadian F i c t i o n P r e f a c e In the c o l l e c t i v e memory o f the human race, as Jung suggests, are beings who i n c o r p o r a t e w i t h i n themselves our deepest dreams, wishes and f e a r s . R e c u r r i n g a g a i n and a g a i n i n a r t and imag i -n a t i o n , t h e i r presence i s testimony to the n e c e s s i t y f o r a mytho-l o g i c a l focus f o r the f o r c e s we sense w i t h i n us. For the Greeks, t h r e e o f these a n c i e n t presences were combined i n the t r i a d Persephone—Demeter—Hecate: the Kore, o r maiden; the p r i m o r d i a l mother, or Corn Goddess; and the Moon Goddess, T h i s u n i q u e l y feminine f i g u r e r e p r e s e n t s , f o r woman, the p s y c h i c con-tinuum o f a l l l i f e . The three-in-oneness o f the t r i a d i m p l i e s an i n f i n i t y o f consciousness; mother and daughter are each c o n t a i n e d w i t h i n the o t h e r and both are w i t h i n the aged woman, as she i s i n them. The a n d r o c e n t r i c Jung found these t h r e e f i g u r e s d i f f i c u l t to r e c o n c i l e , * but f o r the n o v e l i s t , the myth i s a paradigm o f woman's passage through l i f e . As the Odyssey i s the a r c h e t y p a l male quest, so the search f o r the l o s t daughter o f the Corn Goddess i s the female quest. Maiden, *C, G, Jung and C, Ke r e n y i , Essays on a Science o f Mythology; The Myths o f the D i v i n e C h i l d and the D i v i n e Maiden (New York: Harper and Row, 1 9 6 3 ) , P» 1 5 6 , - 2 -mother and crone, simultaneously one and three, they represent a l l aspects of woman's being, and each has a power equal to the other. In the search for her abducted daughter, Demeter i s seek-ing part of hers e l f which has been l o s t . The t h i r d figure of the t r i a d , Hecate, has heard the c r i e s of the Kore and joined i n the search. In the Homeric hymn to Demeter, not only are mother and daughter to be thought of as "a double f i g u r e " but Hecate and 2 Persephone are "as inseparable as Persephone and Demeter." The Cretan myth of Demeter pre-dates the Homeric hymn and 3 refers to her love for the mortal hunter, Iasxon. In barbarxc Arcadia, the goddess met the same fate as the Kore. Pursued by Poseidon, whose name means husband of Demeter, she transformed h e r s e l f into a mare but was caught, raped, and gave b i r t h to a mysterious daughter whose name no one was permitted -to u t t e r . In her rage, she became Demeter Erinyes, or Nemesis. Here, as Kerenyi suggests 'y^ mother and daughter provide a paradigm for the insepa-rable unity of mothers and daughters: i n a single, figure which was at once Mother and Daughter, she could represent the motifs which recur i n a l l mothers and daughters.... 2 Jung, p. 1 1 0 . Carl Kerenyi, Eleusis (New York: Pantheon Books, 1 9 6 7 ) , p. 3 0 . 4 Kerenyx, p. 3 2 . - 3 -But we must not assume that Persephone i s simply the Kore v i c t i m of Pluto's rape; she has her own t e r r i b l e aspect. Her dominion over the manifold powers of death gives her an added i d e n t i f i -cation with her mother and, i n a semantic connection with Perseus, behind her we can glimpse the Gorgon, Medusa. As the maiden i s raped by the Lord of the Dead and,gives b i r t h to Plouton (riches), so the earth i s raped by the plough and gives up i t s bounty. According to Robert Graves, the abduction of the Maiden Goddess refers to male usurpation of the female agriculture myths i n primitive times • While t h i s may be so, there i s no doubt that the matriarchy of the Grain Goddess i s the highest step com-patible with female dominance i n ancient times. Her mystery was, at heart, the mystery of the continued existence of a l l l i v i n g things; i n her uniqueness i s the universal p r i n c i p l e of l i f e and death. The myth of the maiden drawn into the earth appears as f a r away as Indonesia;^ the world-wide prevalence of the myth pro-claims i t s u n i v e r s a l i t y . In the Introduction to Kerenyi's Eleusis, Jung writes that the psychology of the Demeter c u l t i s a product of a matriarchal order ^Robert Graves, Greek Myths (London: Cassell, 1955)? P» 93. ^Jung, p. 132. - 4 -of society where the male i s "an indispensable but on the whole 7 disturbing f a c t o r . " Jung i s quite d e f i n i t e as to the cathartic and supportive e f f e c t on women of a bond such as that between Demeter and her daughter. I t i s no wonder that women long for t h i s powerful relationship, as i t s rupture or perversion causes ambivalence i n a l l other re l a t i o n s h i p s . Demeter's rage and despair at the loss of her daughter are complete but for Persephone, there are i l l u s o r y compensations. Is she not to be Queen of the Dead? And does t h i s not mean that she w i l l have at her beck and c a l l the mighty Ruler of the Dead himself? Perhaps, but w i l l i t be worth i t ? Separated from the source of l i f e and growth, she w i l l turn inwards into herself, ' into the darkness of the unconscious. For the daughter of the golden grain, imprisonment i n the vault may lead to schizophrenia. Besides the trauma of her i n i t i a t i o n into sexual experience, she must l i v e side by side with her rap i s t , knowing that, i f she takes any nourishment, she i s doomed to darkness forever. As every reader of myth knows, she consumes a number of pomegranate seeds, ensuring her return to Pluto for a certai n period each year. Kerenyi, p. xxx - 5 -There i s a curious si g n i f i c a n c e i n the choice of pomegranate seeds i n the myth. Not only i s the pomegranate the symbol of the u n i f i c a t i o n of diverse elements, but i t i s also a symbol of 8 fecundity. In some areas, the f r u i t i s c a l l e d side and there i s an accompanying myth of a virgin., Side, who took her l i f e be-cause of rape by her father. In an Orphic t a l e , the Kore i s seduced by her father i n the shape of a snake, Herakleitps, on the other hand, writes that Persephone's attacker i s her brother, 9 - • Dionysius, She i s thus under attack by a l l males and there xs threat even i n those closest to her,' Nevertheless, Persephone's acceptance of the seed from her male abductor i s an i n t e g r a l part of her progression from innocence to maturity. The danger i s , of course, more profound than simply the d e f i l e -ment of loss of v i r g i n i t y , as the goddesses had the g i f t of restor-ing themselves to the v i r g i n state at w i l l . The r e a l rupture i n -volved i s the attempted break of the mother/daughter bond by the disruptive aspects of the male p r i n c i p l e i t s e l f . In any case, Persephone's abduction, by whomever i t i s accom-plished, tears her away from the side of her adored mother, causing both a physical and a psychic wound. Her journey downwards p a r a l l e l s 8 J, E, C i r l o t , A Dictionary of Symbols (New York: Philosophical Library, 1962), p. 249, 9 Kerenyi, p, 139, Jung's described journey into the unconscious, the shamanistic descent into a world of supernatural wonder and t e r r o r , and f i n a l l y , the plunge into schizophrenia by the besieged mind. She has moved into a universal, archetypal and symbolic world, and w i l l touch the s p i r i t s of those who come a f t e r her. Those who repeat her journey w i l l f i n d , within themselves, a series of chaotic experiences, culminating, i f they are lucky, i n a new harmony and f u l f i l l m e n t , a r e b i r t h into l i f e . Chapter I The theme of renewal and re-affirmation i s a f a m i l i a r one i n l i t e r a t u r e , and appears s i g n i f i c a n t l y often i n the work of women writers. In the search for a meaningful mythology, the myth of the Mother and Daughter thrusts i t s e l f forward i r r e s i s t i b l y . For the male writer, there i s the Hero, whose adventures involve a search for i d e n t i t y through action and aggression; for the female writer, there i s a figure who does not do, but simply is_. This Hero's power l i e s i n her ess e n t i a l being; l i k e the Goddess, she has the power to give l i f e , and t h i s often acts as a catalyst simply by the benefits which are bestowed by her presence. We w i l l f i n d that t h i s i s the model for many of the novels of growth and integration which are, and have been written, by Canadian women n o v e l i s t s . The natural world and the enigma of i t s r e l a t i o n to everyday l i f e — t h e s e are metaphysical problems to which the mythical solution seems ready made, Martha Ostenso's f i r s t book, Wild Geese, i s an attempt to combine the pragmatic outlook of Realism with the deeper v i s i o n of the mythic structure. Although callow i n many ways, the book has a freshness of approach and a s i n c e r i t y of f e e l i n g that evoke a response i n the reader. The story of a farming community i n Manitoba, i t concerns the struggle between the l i f e force, as personified i n the character of Judith Gare, and the morbid repressiveness of the father, Caleb. - 8 -Judith epitomizes the unthinking, i n s t i n c t i v e v i t a l i t y of youth ; Lind Archer, the v i s i t o r from outside, sees her as " v i v i d and t e r r i b l e ...the embryonic ecstasy of a l l l i f e . " * Judith's passion for l i f e i s contrasted with that of the vapid Lind who watches, powerless to change the course of events. Amelia Gare, Judith's mother, has given b i r t h to a c h i l d out of wedlock and married Caleb for fear of s o c i a l ostracism. Her r e j e c t i o n of her husband, because of emotional f i x a t i o n on her dead lover and l o s t c h i l d , has so embittered him that he has destroyed any chance for happi-ness the family may have had. He has become a power-crazed p a t r i -arch; his only joy comes from his seasonal rape of the land: The early summer season was to him.a t e r r i f i c prolonged hour of passion during which he was b l i n d and deaf and dumb to everything save the impulse which bound him to the land. (p. 75) Completely alienated from, her own daughters, Amelia i d e n t i f i e s with Lind. At the re-appearance i n her l i f e of her i l l e g i t i m a t e son, Mark Jordan, she determines "to i s o l a t e h e r s e l f wholly from Caleb's c h i l d r e n " (p. 135)» Jordan i s a figure of some mythic power; his a r r i v a l has pagan overtones. Lind f i r s t sees him on a horse, r i d i n g against the sky across a ridge; she knows he i s from "^Martha Ostenso, Wild Geese (1925; rpt. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 196l), p. 33» A l l subsequent references are to t h i s e d i t i o n with page numbers i n parenthesis. "the world beyond Nykerk (New Church').. " S y m b o l i c a l l y , the l a n d a c r o s s which he r i d e s has the beginnings o f new growth a f t e r the sc a r s o f an o l d f i r e . In t h i s , he, r a t h e r than L i n d , i s the f e r -t i l i t y f i g u r e , but L i n d i s the Kore a t the b e g i n n i n g o f a d i f -f e r e n t c y c l e . Jordan w i l l be the c a t a l y s t who r e s t o r e s l i f e t o those over whom Caleb has had such t e r r i b l e power. As Persephone gave b i r t h t o Plouton so Amelia has giv e n b i r t h to her own s a l -v a t i o n . In s p i t e o f h i s importance to the development o f the p l o t , Jordan i s the weakest c h a r a c t e r i n the book. Both he and L i n d are l a r g e l y u n r e a l i s e d but Ostenso has giv e n the people o f the community a s t a t u r e which i s almost mythic. While c e n t r e stage i s occupied by the male c h a r a c t e r s , one i s always conscious o f the women, moving, moving i n the background. L i n d observes "the un-b e l i e v a b l e amount o f work done by the women..." (p. 2 0 9 ) . In s p i t e o f the o p p r e s s i o n o f t h e i r l i v e s , those who have formed bonds wi t h each o t h e r know some happiness, but those who, l i k e Amelia, have shut themselves o f f from o t h e r women, s u f f e r great misery. The women are t r e a t e d i n some i n s t a n c e s as beasts o f burden, and Thorvaldson, w i t h h i s many daughters, i s an o b j e c t o f sco r n , Amelia's l i f e has been m a s o c h i s t i c a l l y j o y l e s s , and her r e -v u l s i o n toward her husband i s s t r o n g l y s e x u a l . She prepares the lamp: - 10 -which must be ready for his use should he want i t . . , i t had a long, white, glass pedestal, and a ruby coloured, round body, within which the wick floated l i k e a red, swollen tongue, Amelia stood looking into the rosy globe as i f i t held some strange s i g n i f i c a n c e . (p. 160) Trapped i n Caleb's death-like embrace, she has never extended toward Judith and E l l e n the nurturing lQve for which they yearn and i n consequence, both are stunted emotionally. Judith has always been more the c h i l d of the abundant land than that of the r e j e c t i n g Amelia; one of the most powerful scenes i n the book has Judith pressing her naked body into the earth and a r i s i n g , l i k e Anteus, with fresh strength. Ostenso sees the land as both abun-dant and harsh; here the i d e a l mother i s joined to the actual father i n i r o n i c contrast and i t i s , i n fact, from the land that r e t r i b u t i o n for Caleb comes. He has appropriated to himself the bounty of the f l a x harvest; the destruction of the crop by f i r e sends him to his death i n the muskeg. The s a c r i f i c e of the harvest has drawn the death-figure down into the depths; those who remain begin t h e i r l i v e s anew. Although we are t o l d at the end that Judith i s happy and w i l l , i n her turn, give b i r t h , there i s no resolution to the antagonism between mothers and daughters. Ostenso sees the l i f e of women as paramount but fears the harshness of the land too much to admit i t s mythic power. Her prose i s f u l l of the beauty of everyday things-flowers, birds, the soft winds—but the land i t s e l f i s i n -i m i c a l . For her, the quest i s above the land, away from i t s de-- 11 -mands, i n the f l i g h t of the wild geese. The unease caused by t h i s evasion of r e a l i t y i s f e l t by Lind as she and Mark are united; above her are the geese ",,.a remote, t r a i l i n g shadow,,,a mag-n i f i c e n t seeking through solitude ,,,an endless quest,,," (p, 230)o In spite of the wealth of the natural world, there i s a s p i r i t u a l blindness here which has not recognised the possi-b i l i t i e s of the mother/daughter bond. Of course, the mythic re-sonances are here; we can see Demeter i n the remote t r a i l i n g shadow, passing through the sky seeking the daughter who eludes her, Ostenso's l a t e r novels are undistinguished; none -has the com-p e l l i n g innocence of Wild Geese, One looks i n vain for a develop-ment of the motif of mother/daughter search and integration, a development which might have given a coherence and d i s t i n c t i o n to Ostenso's canon. Imagination and vividness have ca r r i e d the read-er along, but for works which combine technical mastery with the mythic consciousness, we must turn to the novels of Ethel Wilson, Two of Wilson's most satisfying-books, The Innocent Traveller, and Swamp Angel, make extensive use of the metaphor and symbol-ism of the great myth. In The Innocent Traveller, Topaz Edgworth continues throughout her l i f e as the intensely vibrant c h i l d she was at the death of her mother. Time passes for her as i f i n a dream; the swift and imperceptible passing of time i s one of Wil-son's preoccupations. Her stepmother's death when Topaz i s 45* - 12 -finds her s t i l l immature; the rest of her l i f e i s spent i n search of surrogate mothering. The journey to Canada, while expressed i n almost mythic terms j i s i r r e l e v a n t to her devel-opment; she cannot mature without the trauma of separation and sexual i n i t i a t i o n . Her l i f e i s as ephemeral as a spray of l i g h t ; " j u s t small bright dots of colour, sparkling dots of 2 l i f e . " Wilson writes i n an Author's note: The metaphors are not mixed. The drop of water, the b i r d , the water-glider, the dancer, the wind on the canal, and Topaz, are a l l d i f f e r e n t and a l l the same. (p. v i i ) The images are of l i g h t , f l i c k e r i n g ^ youth; there i s no t r a n s i -t i o n to maturity. Like Yeats' "long-legged f l y , " Topaz s k i t t e r s on the s w i f t l y moving r i v e r of l i f e ; she i s b l i n d to the world around her. There i s , nevertheless, a sense of value and pur-pose to her l i f e . As always, Wilson's irony i s elusive, but there i s a clue i n Topaz's name. The gem s i g n i f i e s s p i r i t u a l truth, and i n her innocence, Topaz has f u l f i l l e d her quest, which was simply for a l i f e of joy, however t r a n s i t o r y . In Swamp Angel, a l a t e r book i n which the s t y l e i s l e s s un-conventional, the mythic theme i s more immediately apparent. I t t e l l s the history of Maggie Lloyd's search for meaning i n her l i f e . 2 Ethel Wilson, The Innocent T r a v e l l e r (Toronto: Macmillan, 1949), P 243. Subsequent references are to t h i s e dition, with page numbers i n parenthesis. - 13 -A widow, she has l o s t her l i t t l e daughter through death and has herself been drawn into the s p i r i t u a l death of marriage with Edward Vardoe. Their l i f e together i s disgusting to her and she longs constantly for her c h i l d i Able at l a s t to escape into the mountains, she builds a new l i f e through the g i f t of her-s e l f which she showers on others. She i s mother incarnate; "her slow, soft curves" proclaim her femininity and her hands are i n f i n i t e l y nurturing. Verbs of f l u i d i t y abound—flowing, spray-ing, splashing—and convey the essence of the f e r t i l i t y of the water l i f e . Where the two great r i v e r s combine, one muddy and dangerous, the other clear and sparkling, Maggie leaves the a l i e n r i v e r behind along with Vardoe, and follows the dancing, gleaming Thompson. While l i v i n g i n Vancouver, Maggie has become involved with Mrs. Severance and her daughter Hilda.. The older woman i s one of a series of grossly f a t and f e r t i l e figures we w i l l encounter i n these works; when she wishes to dispose of the central symbol of the book, a revolver c a l l e d a Swamp Angel, i t i s to Maggie that she gives i t . The transfer from older woman to younger i s the transfer of the symbol of l i f e and death from mother to s p i r i t u a l daughter. Maggie takes to hers e l f the power of l i f e , but consigns the revolver, with i t s death aspects, into the depths of the lake where the f i s h swim around i t i n celebration of l i f e . The b a r r i e r between l i f e and death i s dissolved i n the f l u i d element. Maggie's - 1-4 -i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with water leads her to f e e l "at one with her two brothers the seal and the porpoise, who tumble and tumble 3 i n the salt-waves"; Maggie uses her power to restore l i f e to the aged Mr, Cunningham when she brings him back from "the point where Being touches non-Being" (p« 1 3 7 )• This notion, with which Wilson plays so n i c e l y , i s , i n fact, at the heart of the Greek ethos; the idea of non-Being i n Greek r e l i g i o n forms 4 the root aspect of Being, The e n t i r e l y fortuitous circumstances of l i f e can have no meaning without the acceptance of non-Being as a v a l i d state i n which at any moment one might f i n d oneself. As the bud contains the essence of the flower but i s not the flower, so the Kore contains within herself both the bud, which i s herself, and the non-Being of the woman with i t s pote n t i a l for Being, Maggie's flowerlike q u a l i t i e s are altogether womanly; i n her, the daughter i s submerged within the mother, Jung writes that the daughter's Being i s revealed l i k e a f l a s h i n the mother's: 5 turns over round the bend of the parabola of curved f l i g h t , sinks, and i s gone,,. This passage i s intensely evocative of Wilson?s prose i n Swamp Angel; construction as well as imagery appear again and again i n the descriptions of Maggie's quest. I t i s Vera Gunnarson, whom • E t h e l Wi l son , Swamp Angel ' (Toronto : - . Macmil lan , 1954), p . 99. Subsequent references are to this , e d i t i o n , withvtpiage numbers'" in. parenthesis. 4 Jung, p, 1 2 0 , ~* D, H, Lawrence, " F i d e l i t y " , i n Jung, p, 1 0 8 , - 15 -M a g g i e t r i e s t o t r e a t a s a d a u g h t e r , who r e p r e s e n t s n o n - B e i n g . I n h e r i n s e c u r i t i e s a n d j e a l o u s i e s , s h e i s t h e o p p o s i t e o f " t r u t h " ; h e r name i s a n a d d e d i r o n y . H e r e t o o , a s W i l s o n s a i d o f The I n n o c e n t T r a v e l l e r , t h e m e t a p h o r s a r e n o t m i x e d . The b o o k i s f u l l o f s p a r k l i n g l i g h t a n d r i p p l i n g w a t e r . The o n l y d a r k p a s s a g e s , b o t h i n l a n g u a g e a n d i n m o o d , a r e a t t h e b e g i n n i n g w h e n M a g g i e i s i m m u r e d w i t h V a r d o e i n V a n c o u v e r . E v e n t h e r e , M a g g i e ' s u s e o f f e a t h e r s i n h e r f l y - t y i n g a l l i e s h e r w i t h t h e b i r d s who f l i c k e r i n t h e a i r , r e f r a c t i n g t h e l i g h t i n f l a s h e s o f c o l o u r . S h e l o n g s t o l e a v e t h e s e a a n d go u p i n t o t h e m o u n t a i n s w h e r e t h e r e a r e r i v e r s w i t h f i s h s w i m m i n g i n t h e m . E v e n t h e t h o u g h t s o f t h e c h a r a c t e r s f l i c k e r a n d d i s a p p e a r i n t h e c h a n g i n g l i g h t , a n d t h e s e n t e n c e s r i p p l e l i k e t h e f l o w i n g c o r n f r o m D e m e t e r ' s j a r s . M a g g i e ' s s e a r c h f o r h e r l o s t l i t t l e d a u g h t e r c a n n o t succeed b u t s h e h e r s e l f i s r e s t o r e d t o e m o t i o n a l h e a l t h a n d t h e f u t u r e h o l d s f u l f i l l m e n t f o r h e r . We s e e i n t h e n o v e l s d i s c u s s e d a b o v e t h e t h e m e s w h i c h p r o -l i f e r a t e a r o u n d t h e m y t h o f P e r s e p h o n e . The f u n d a m e n t a l r e l a t i o n -s h i p f o r women i s t h a t b e t w e e n m o t h e r a n d d a u g h t e r . T h i s i s t h e f i r s t b o n d k n o w n t o t h e i n f a n t who i s b o t h h e r s e l f a n d a n e x t e n -s i o n o f t h e m o t h e r . F o r t h e m o t h e r , t h e r e i s r e n e w a l i n t h e f o r m o f a d a u g h t e r ; a s s h e l o o k s b a c k w a r d i n t o h e r c h i l d h o o d , h e r d a u g h t e r , i n h e r , l o o k s f o r w a r d i n t o a d u l t h o o d . The t h i r d p a r t - 16 -of the cycle i s the aged woman, who contains both younger women within herself, and also, through her death, a promise of re-b i r t h and renewal. A l l carry the promise of f e r t i l i t y i n some form, but for a l l three, f e r t i l i t y implies a death of some kind, whether psychical or physical. The absence or rupture of t h i s tremendous bond leads to the quest for i t s restoration^ for the f u l f i l l m e n t of the archetypal t r i a d . Unless the woman can reconcile, within herself, the maiden, mother, and crone, there cannot be maturity or personal f u l f i l l m e n t ; some v i t a l facet of he r s e l f w i l l always be missing. We w i l l see that some female characters turn away from t h i s s e l f - a c t u a l i s i n g cycle; there i s a f l i g h t from incorporation of personality. This, of course, i n no- way negates the importance of the cycle. Often, the vehemence of the-rejection i s proof of i t s continuing power. The search for integration i s , of course, a component of the male quest but there i s a d i f f e r e n t mythical framework i n which to work. The male seeks a place to be,- but i n t h i s place, how-r-ever welcomed he may be, he stands alone. In the closest r e l a t i o n -ship of a l l , the woman reproducing he r s e l f from her own body, are uniquely feminine ramifications. In the closest of bonds i s the greatest p o t e n t i a l for struggle and resistance, and the fear of being engulfed by the mother can prevent the integration of the s e l f . - 17 -The use of mythic archetypes i s fundamental to the struc-t u r i n g of the a r t i s t ' s world, and the.female quest motif appears increasingly „ i n the work of many- of Canadian women, and even some men, authors. Canadian women writers are looking increasingly inwards and t h i s introspection i s r e f l e c t e d i n the su b j e c t i v i t y of t h e i r w r i t i n g . In the--work of two of our most popular writers, Margaret Laurence and Margaret Atwood, we f i n d the myth used again and again, both i m p l i c i t l y and e x p l i c i t l y . - 18 -Chapter II ...the continuum moves inexorably.* MARGARET LAURENCE Although t h e i r actions may seeing at times, to contradict t h i s , Margaret Laurence's women yearn for abundance and f u l f i l l m e n t . S t e r i l i t y i s often represented by a dominant paternalism. The progress toward s e l f - r e a l i s a t i o n involves struggle, a r e j e c t i o n of t h i s paternalism, and an eventual turning to and embracing of the mothering p r i n c i p l e . A Bird i n the House i s Laurence's most unequivocally auto-biographical work, and for the young Vanessa McLeod, the centre of the world i s Grandfather Connor. A l l i n the house are subject to his autocratic rule, yet i t i s i n the relationships: between the women that the true family l i e s ; there i s genuine i d e n t i f i c a t i o n and the continuity of love between them.-In "Jericho's Brick Battlements", Vanessa rejects the r i g i d i t y of her grandfather's repressiveness. Once the dominant figure i n her l i f e , he has be-2 come "the memory of a memory"; her mother has taken his place * Clara Thomas, The Manawaka World of Margaret Laurence (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1 9 7 6 ) , p. 168. 2 Margaret Laurence, A- Bird i n the House (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1 9 7 4 ) , P« 2 0 6 . Subsequent references are to t h i s edition, with page numbers i n parenthesis. - 19 -i n the structure of her consciousness. As she moves on i n her l i f e , Vanessa r e a l i s e s that, "Of a l l the deaths i n the family, hers remained unhealed i n my mind longest" (p. 206) o Vanessa can put her girlhood into i t s proper perspective because she has moved along the continuum into motherhood, into adulthood. In The Stone Angel, Hagar-Shripley does not achieve t h i s t r a n s i t i o n u n t i l the very end of:her l i f e . Her own pride traps her i n the Persephone role, arid the psychological d i s -ruption caused by her refusal to assume the mother role im-prisons her within the confines of sexual i n h i b i t i o n — t h e marble embrace of the Pluto figure—and only when she re-enters the cycle, can she f i n d integration and f u l f i l l m e n t . Hagar connives . at her own imprisonment within the arms of the Stone Angel; she i s both v i c t i m and self-betrayer. The death of her mother at her b i r t h i s the f i r s t break.in the continuity of the myth; her refusal to comfort her dying brother by playing the mother role i s the second and r e - i n f o r c i n g break. 3 "To play at being h e r — i t was beyond me." Her s e l f - d e s t r u c t i v e denial of the mother arises because of what she sees as her mother's weakness i n dying. To compensate for her loss, she has reshaped her mother's image into one she can despise. Hagar w i l l 3 Margaret Laurence, The Stone Angel :(Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1964), p. 25. A l l subsequent references are to t h i s e d i tion, with page numbers i n parenthesis. - 2 0 -not be able to reconcile these two roles^ both facets of her own personality, u n t i l she moves downward toward the end of her l i f e , the Shadow Point which awaits her. This narrowing toward the focus of Hagar's l i f e i s echoed i n the structure of the book, Laurence has manipulated the time sequence so that the reader sees Haga-r's journey as l a s t i n g both a l i f e t i m e and the few moments of consciousness before death, "Time has folded i n l i k e a paper fan" (p. 9 0 ) ; as a fan opens and shuts from a f i x e d point, so Hagar's memory expands and contracts, soaring outward into the past and returning to the immediate. The book appears at f i r s t reading to have a conventional temporal structure, but Laurence undercuts t h i s through s h i f t s i n perspec-t i v e and verb tense. As Hagar l i e s on-her hospital bed, she begins the long retreat inward and backward into the depths of memory. There she encounters those who have been important to .her and sees her own f a i l u r e s i n her dealings with those she has loved, Hagar's narrative begins with the Stone Angel which '.'used to stand" on the h i l l i n the cemetery. Here, the use of tense emphasizes the i n d e f i n i t e past of memory-. The angel i s doubly b l i n d , "unendowed with even_,a pretense of 'sight" (p. 3 ) , as Hagar w i l l be b l i n d to the needs of others i n her l i f e . A l l around i s the burgeoning l i f e of the prairie-^flowers, weeds, insects—kept at bay by those to whom rampant growth i s threatening, Hagar's dealings with natural l i f e are disturbing; the dying chicks she - 2 1 -sees i n the garbage dump are l i f e perverted. Fresh from the egg, they are at the same time a symbol of death, Lo t t i e , the one who has the strength to destroy the chicks, i s her s e l f described as " l i g h t as an eggshell" and w i l l i n her turn be destroyed by Hagar. Images of intense v i t a l i t y surround the s t i l l centre which i s \ Hagar, She moves within scenes of bursting l i f e , but i s un-affected. Her clothing i s described as l i l a c , or narcissus c o l -oured; her dress i s pure s i l k , "spun by silkworms fed on mul-berry leaves" (p, 2 9 ) , Everywhere are flowers and insects, but Hagar i s the embodiment of Margaret-Atwood's Persephone, the g i r l with the gorgon touch, who longs for human warmth: But always she meets a marbled f l e s h , A f i x i n g eye, a s t i f f e n e d form.,, (Formal Garden) F u l l of vibrant l i f e himself, the man she marries i s de-stroyed by her coldness; s o c i a l l y , of course, her marriage i s a downward journey, Robert Graves writes of Persephone as "she who brings destruction"; ~* she must k i l l the s a c r i f i c i a l king to bring l i f e to the waste land*, For Hagar, the l i f e force must be de-stroyed because she fears i t s power over her. Nothing for Bram Margaret Atwood, Double Persephone (Toronto: Hawkshead Press, 1 9 6 1),n, pag, ^Robert Graves, Greek Myths (London: Cassell, 1 9 5 5 ) , P. 9 3 . - 22 -Shipley flourishes a f t e r marriage; even his bees die. Hagar has feared his horsej commonly a symbol for the l i f e force and sexual drive, and the death of Soldier ends any chance of understanding between them. 4 Later, Hagar w i l l destroy her beloved son because of her fear and displeasure at his sexual happiness with Lottie's daughter, Arlene. Mother and son wrestle with the Stone Angel and John^ a f t e r her marble embrace, w i l l die because of the loss of love. Hagar's nature i s passionate, but she equates sexual desire with the loss of power; she i s a l t e r n a t e l y drawn to and repelled by sexual experience. Like the i n v i s i b l e "other" i n D. H. Lawrence's extraordinary,poem, "Bavarian Gentians," she conspires i n the embraces of John and Arlene, but ends -byT causing t h e i r death. "Let me guide myself...where Persephone goes" writes the poet:^ where Persephone h e r s e l f i s but a voice or a darkness i n v i s i b l e enfolded -in the deeper dark of the arms Plutonic, and pierced with the passion of dense gloom among the splendour of torches of darkness, shedding darkness on the l o s t bride and her groom. D. H. Lawrence suggests that Persephone-goes w i l l i n g l y into the h a l l s of darkness; i n j o i n i n g Pluto, she j'oins h e r s e l f . "The blaze 6 D. H« Lawrence, "Bavarian Gentians" The Norton Anthology of  English Literature, ed. Abrams et a l 0 (New York: Norton, 1962), p. 1763. - 23 -of darkness" extinguishes "Demeter's pale lamps" t e s t i f y i n g to the strength of desire, Hagar has known t h i s passion but has s t i f l e d i t , denying i t f u l f i l l m e n t for the sake of pride. This r e a l i s a t i o n comes to her at the end o f her l i f e when she can admit that "Pride has been my Wilderness" (p, 292), In her search for release and joy-, Hagar must constantly descend u n t i l she reaches a depth within he r s e l f where joy w i l l be possible. There are innumerable instances i n the book of her descent i n search of experience: the-Stone Angel has stood but i s now f a l l e n above the town: Hagar and Doris wait i n the bowels of the Hospital for the X-rays: the most s i g n i f i c a n t journey, p a r a l l e l i n g Persephone's journey and also the Jungian descent into the unconscious, i s the climb down to the Cannery beside the sea. Like the unconscious, the Cannery i s a "place of remnants and o d d i t i e s " (p, 215), The emptiness of Hagar's l i f e i s e p i t -omised by Shadow Point] on the surface, without the strength to grow s p i r i t u a l l y , she i s i n the shadows. Only when she has the courage to descend into the Cannery, and into her own past, can she re-emerge into the l i g h t . The sea i t s e l f t e r r i f i e s her with i t s dangers, both physical and psychological, of being "drawn fathoms down into depths as s t i l l and cold as black glass" (p. 235)• Even her dying body draws her to the depths with i t s reminders of bowels and blockages. She i s unable to purge her s e l f of the waste - 24 -of her l i f e and i t i s t h i s concentration on her own subterranean being that causes her discomfort i h the Cannery as she s i t s with "balloon b e l l y " on the f l o o r . Hagar has come to the Cannery to avoid the Old People's Home, a mausoleum for which she i s not yet ready. Her impulse has driven her to the only place she can integrate her l i f e . At Shadow Point, recognition awaits her- i n the darkness which has always "teemed with phantoms" (p. 205) for her. I t i s , of course, these phantoms with which she must learn to deal before entering the f i n a l darkness. As she climbs down the steps, she i s no longer clad i n flower colours but i n a beige housedress "patterned rather b i z a r r e l y i n black t r i a n g l e s " (p.- 145). The tri a n g l e s , a three cornered symbol of unity, have replaced the a r t i f i c i a l flowers of her clothing. Now she moves through natural growth; there are ferns, flowers and blackberries, and Hagar sees herself as Keats' old Meg Merrilees: Old Meg she was a gypsy, And l i v e d upon the moors; Her bed i t was the brown heath t u r f , And her house was out of doors. (p. 163) Meg i s the archetypal outcast woman wanderer at one with Nature, a Demeter figure, i n f a c t . In i r o n i c emphasis, Hagar's s e l f - r e a l -i z a t i o n comes through contact with the man she meets named Murray Lees, who i s with Dependable L i f e Assurance. The euphony of his name, Murray Ferney Lees, i s contrasted with an unpreposessing - 25 -appearance. Clara Thomas suggests that his function is.analogous 7 to that of the Fool i n King Lear, but he i s also the goddess i n male form, conferring the g i f t of self-knowledge on Hagar. His presence protects her from sinking into the depths; "If I were alone... I'd be drawn out and out, with each receding layer of water to i t s beginning, a depth as a l i e n and c h i l l as some fa r o f f frozen planet" (p. 224). Lees t a l k s of his joy i n sex with his wife, and the death of t h e i r c h i l d ; Hagar finds she can , f i n a l l y t a l k of the loss of her beloved son, John. She must now face the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for the tragedy of her own l i f e . I t i s not u n t i l she can speak of her son's death that she can move through the l a s t b a r r i e r , s e l f love, to a f i n a l peace. She sees her interference i n her son's l i f e as the re s u l t , not of concern for him, but of pride and selfishness, the desire to keep him for h e rself. Even a f t e r his death, she had remained dry-eyed, the Stone Angel s t i l l . ' . •- ' The death of John through his mother's interference, l i k e that of the s a c r i f i c i a l King at the hands of Persephone, restores l i f e to the P r a i r i e . "That same year, the rains f e l l around Manawaka i n spring and early summer, enough to head out the wheat" (p. 244 )• With memory comes the release of tears; she i s f i n a l l y purged. Thomas, p. 71 - 26 -She imagines that John i s present and gives her blessing to his l i f e with Arlene. Hagar i s approaching the !'hinge of the fan/ 1 where her l i f e and the three facets of her personality can become whole. The ascent to the l i g h t begins with the a r r i v a l of Marvin, the neglected son, who brings his mother- to the Hospital. As the focus narrows, the rooms i n which she l i e s become smaller; "the next room w i l l be the smallest of the l o t " , says Hagar (p. 2 8 2 ) . For now, she i s i n a room of flowers whose delphinium curtains and primrose walls are a foreshadowing of the reunion with Marvin, who deals i n paints with marvelous names, Paris i a n Chartreuse, Fiesta Rose. Also exorcised i n the Hospital are Hagar's fear and re j e c t i o n of other women. She has constantly referred to the women around her i n animal terms: her mother has-been the brood mare: Lo t t i e i s a chicken: Doris i s a sow: others are cows and h e i f e r s . Her acceptance of t h e i r f l e s h , and of course, her own, as part of t h e i r common humanity, i s a re s u l t of her growing humility and the r e a l i s a t i o n that she i s part of a l l women. Her self-centredness dissolves more- and more i n contact with those from whom she needs care. The courage of the minister, Troy, i n singing to her i n the ward, causes her to l i s t e n to the actual message he brings; "come ye before Him and r e j o i c e " (p. 2 9 2 ) . - 27 -This leads to her f i n a l acceptance of a l l her g u i l t s , not only i n the death of John, but i n the ruin of he"r husband, Bram. She can accept that i t was her repression and coldness, prompted by "some brake of proper appearance" (p. 292) that s t i f l e d his warmth and vigour. She can now o f f e r to Marvin the love she has denied him; she can assume the mother r o l e . With t h i s assumption, the t r i a d can be completed and f u l f i l l e d , Hagar's own body and s p i r i t become the place of s a c r i f i c e and exaltation, the s i t e of the mythic journey; she i s goddess, hero, shaman, and l i f e giver. Para-doxically, she has contained within herself both l i f e and death. Her imprisonment has resulted from the fear of loss of s e l f -esteem; the arms Plutonxc whxch have enveloped her have been the chains which she car r i e d within her; "they spread out from me and shackled a l l I touched" (p. 292), This Persephone becomes one with Pluto, not i n death, but i n a p o s i t i v e integration leading to acceptance of the l i f e and death cycle. The blue smoking dark-ness and the l i g h t of Demeter's lamp, i n the Lawrence poem, have both been absorbed into the l i g h t of. Persephone's r e a l i s a t i o n that both l i g h t and dark come from within her. These c o n t r a r i e t i e s must be accepted as Hagar accepts the truth and falsehood of her l a s t words to Marvin, A l i e and yet not a l i e ; d i s t i n c t i o n s become narrower u n t i l they disappear into a kind of universal t r u t h . - 2 8 -There i s no time l e f t ; the focus has shrunk u n t i l now "the world i s a needle" (p. 3 0 7 ) . Hagar's death follows i n e v i t a b l y , for the world can shrink no farther. Her l a s t act i s to wrest from the nurse's hands a glass of water; i n t h i s baptism i s eternal l i f e . This death i s an ongoing event, not a f i n a l i t y . Laurence has begun the book with the past i n d e f i n i t e and ended i t with a kind of i n d e f i n i t e future with the dying woman surging forward into "and then—" (p. 3 0 8 ) . Death i s not an ending but part of a new beginning as the growth and death of the f e r t i l i t y cycle c a r r i e s always the promise of a new beginning. Through s h i f t s i n perspective, time and memory have woven into a skein by which the reader's attention has been linked with the fate of Hagar Shipley. There i s , both structu r a l l y and emotionally, a drawing inward to Hagar's consciousness; l i k e time, t h i s has grown i n concentration as i t moves toward i t s focus. As the hero returns from his supernatural journey-with the power to bestow 8 . boons so Hagar has interrupted her metaphysxcal journey to bestow "boons ,on those l e f t behind."The plunge inward into the sea;of memory has revealed her as the archetypal woman, capable of giving or withholding l i f e . As her s p i r i t u a l pride has drained the l i f e from her relationships, so her new-found humility brings Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By (New York: Viking Press, 1 9 7 2 ) , p. 2 0 9 . - 29 -with i t the p o s s i b i l i t y of renewal. S p i r i t u a l pride masked by an obsessive fear of appearing f o o l i s h i s also the basis of Rachel Cameron's i n h i b i t i o n s i n A Jest of God, Laurence has compared the two women: Rachel's hang-up i n a sense was very s i m i l a r to Hagar's, although i t was very, very, concealed. Because anyone who i s desperately a f r a i d . o f having human weaknesses, although they f e e l very unself-confident, ^ s Rachel did, i s i n fact s u f f e r i n g from s p i r i t u a l pride. Unmarried, and moving toward middle age, Rachel's sense of id e n t i t y i s t e r r i b l y weak; projecting t h i s onto others, she constantly asks, "Who does she think she i s ? " * ^ The novel i s f u l l of s p l i t s and c o n t r a r i e t i e s , as the most banal pronouncements convey profound s i g n i f i c a n c e . About her work as a teacher, Rachel says, "It's my l i v i n g , " and t r u l y i t i s , as without the d a i l y contact with children, there would be nothing i n her l i f e of any value. In spite of her desperation, though, we f i n d that Rachel has had chances to enrich her l i f e but has refused them; Laurence emphasizes throughout that we l i v e the l i f e we have chosen for ourselves, g Graeme Gibson, Eleven Canadian Novelists (Toronto: Anansi, 1 9 7 3 ) , P. 2 0 2 . "^Margaret Laurence, A Jest of God (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1 9 7 4 ) , P» 55« A l l references are to t h i s text, with page numbers i n parenthesis. - 30 -As the town o f Manawaka i s s p l i t i n two, between U k r a i n i a n s and Scots, so, s y m b o l i c a l l y , Rachel i s s p l i t i n two, between her f a n t a s y s e l f and the co n f o r m i s t who dreads exposure o f any k i n d . Almost a l l o f her d i a l o g u e i s i n t e r i o r ; when she speaks, t h e r e i s l i t t l e substance i n what she says. Yet her c r y o f "Nick, l i s t e n , " i s a deeply f e l t l o n g i n g f o r co n n e c t i o n which he cannot a c c e p t . Of U k r a i n i a n background, he r e p r e s e n t s f o r her the u n i n h i b i t e d e x o t i c , the i n h a b i t a n t o f the "Golden C i t y " o f t h e c h i l d r e n ' s song. Both Nick and Rachel are p a r t o f a p a i r , the o t h e r o f which embodies the i d e a l o f the parent, Nick's recovery from the p o l i o which k i l l e d h i s twin, Steve, h i s f a t h e r ' s f a v o u r i t e , has l e f t a burden o f g u i l t from which he cannot r e c o v e r ; f o r Rachel, her s i s t e r Stacey, mother o f fou r , s m a l l and plump i n her mother's image, i s a constant reminder o f what she i s not, Rachel i s the B i b l i c a l mother, c r y i n g f o r her c h i l d r e n ; names here are important, sometimes o p p r e s s i v e l y so. As the l i l y i s the flow e r o f death y e t re p r e s e n t s a k i n d o f abundance, so C a l l a i s f u l l o f l o v e f o r Rachel, but i t i s a l o v e which must u l t i m a t e l y be s t e r i l e , Mrs, Cameron, f i x e d i n e t e r n a l g i r l h o o d , i s i r o n i c a l l y r r e a l l y c a l l e d May, The news t h a t she i s not pregnant but c a r r y -i n g a tumour i s g i v e n t o Rachel by Dr, Raven; s i g n i f i c a n c e s seem e n d l e s s . Even p l a c e names make connections; from her i n i t i a l f r u s t r a t i o n i n the Parthenon Cafe, Rachel moves to the f i n a l scene, where the bus moves " l i k e a gr e a t owl through the darkness," Thus, - 31 -i n s p i r i t , the owl of the v i r g i n goddess Athena i s sweeping Rachel away from the Temple, Parthenos, the place of the v i r g i n . Taken too far, t h i s sort of thing can d i s t r a c t the reader, who becomes engrossed i n secondary s i g n i f i c a n c e s . But behind a l l the Christian references, and the l i n g u i s t i c t r i c k s , i s the structure of the great myth. Rachel and her mother l i v e over the funeral home which her father started. The apartment, a place of d o i l i e s and bric-a-brac, i s her mother's domain; her father's i s below, with the "unspeaking.ones." In sleep, i n a Jungian dream, Rachel goes down: — S t a i r s r i s i n g from nowhere, and the wallpaper the loose-petalled, unknown flowers. The s t a i r s descending to the place where I am not allowed. ...He i s behind the door I cannot open. And his voice—his voice—so I know he i s l y i n g there among them, l y i n g i n state, king over them. He can't f o o l me. He says run away Rachel run away run away. I am running across t h i c k grass and small purple violets—weeds—dandelions, -(p. 19) The pun on "l y i n g " w i l l be resolved when Rachel r e a l i s e s that her father too "had the l i f e he wanted" (p. 124 ) . The psychic release from t h i s h a l f l i f e begins with a v i s i t to the Tabernacle of the Risen and Reborn, with C a l l a . The painted walls are "dense and murky, the way the sea must be, fathoms under" (p. 3 0 ) . Rachel's reaction i s , as always, "I must go away." Thwarted by the mass of people, she thinks for the f i r s t time of the Dionysian r i t e s ; " . . . w i l l Calla suddenly r i s e and keen l i k e the Grecian women on the h i l l s . . . " (p. 31)• This image i s a d i r e c t - 32 -correspondence to the myth, as Persephone's brother, Dionysius i s often equated with her abductor. Not Calla, but Rachel, w i l l be c a r r i e d away, w i l l r i s e and keen, as she f a l l s into an ecsta-t i c trance babbling i n tongues. With great s k i l l , Laurence uses r h e t o r i c a l devices to b u i l d the tension. Death images, animal images, give way to sexual, with the singing of the dithyrambic hymn, "In f u l l and glad surrender, I give myself to Thee," In a parody of the bandaging of death, Rachel says, "The muscles of my face have wired my jawbone so t i g h t l y that when I move i t , i t makes a c l i c k i n g sound" (p, 34)• Her e c s t a t i c utterances, when they come, are a release from s p i r i t u a l death, from the bond with the death figure of the father. The voice, and the woman, are dragged from the crypt where they have been hiding, into an extraordinary v i s i b i l i t y . No longer w i l l Rachel deny her own existence because she i s not seen; that denial has been taken from her, although she w i l l t r y to c l i n g to i t . Her shame ex-presses i t s e l f i n a vio l e n t reaction - to Calla's gesture of love. The crude humanity of the Tabernacle has released i n her the desire to give life> not only to herself, but to another, to bear a c h i l d . Her subconscious longing i s given expression i n her i n t e r -course with Nick, but Laurence a l e r t s the reader to the irony i n t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p , Nick assures Rachel that the place i s "as - 3**0-private as the grave;" undressing, he " s l i t h e r ( s ) out of his grey flannels l i k e a snake shrugging o f f i t s l a s t year's ski n " (p» 9 0 ) . Despite her sexual longing, Rachel i s unable to respond f u l l y to him; she i s trapped between her mother's and her father's worlds, with assurance from neither: There are three worlds and I'm i n the middle one, and t h i s seems to be a weak area be-tween millstones. (p. 94) Nick, too, i s i n a kind of no-man's land, having turned his back on a heritage that claims him i n spite of himself. The winter suspension of Rachel's l i f e i s nearly over. The Tabernacle has brought her the f i r s t breaking up; to interpret her v i s i o n , she needs an oracle, which she finds i n the u n l i k e l y shape of Hector Jonas, her father's successor i n the funeral chapel. In the climactic scene of the book, she r e a l i s e s that she i s k in to the Dionysian women: I'm out of my mind. Mad as any Grecian woman on the demented and b l o o d - l i t h i l l s , (p. 116) Going down from her mother's place, she feels the trampled rose of the carpet beneath her feet. In an echo of the Tabernacle, she begs Jonas, "Let me come i n " (p. 119) • But Hector i s no N i a l l Cameron. The place of death has been s a n i t i s e d and t r i v i a l i s e d . Where N i a l l had reigned among the "unspeaking ones", Hector i s the super sales-man s e l l i n g R e l i e f and Modified Prestige. He i s nevertheless the catalyst f o r Rachel's r e a l i s a t i o n that her father had chosen the - 33 -realm of death, chosen the company of those with whom he need not connect, and i t i s for her to choose the world of l i g h t and l i f e . Not the kingdom of her mother, because her mother has s t i f l e d her own l i f e urges, but a new kingdom of loving and giving; she must become the mother i n order to f u l f i l l the cycle of maturity and growth. Although Hector has s u p e r f i c i a l l y blocked out the apocalyptic aspects of death, within her Rachel c a r r i e s the reminder of the death i n l i f e she has led a l l these years. Her ambivalent feelings toward pregnancy, her fear and longing, make her intensely aware of her former obsession with death: What I thought i n those days was—whatever you f e e l , don't say i t or sing i t , because i f you.do, i t w i l l mortify me, (p. 162) Laurence's s k i l l at conveying layers of meaning through words i s again evident as Rachel says, "It can't be borne," True of the c h i l d she believes she i s carrying, true of her s i t u a t i o n , and eventually, true of the tumour of which she i s as yet unaware. Its removal i s the l a s t b a r r i e r to a new l i f e . As she moves west-ward with her mother, she sees that even the bearing of children i s unnecessary to her f u l f i l l m e n t ; she has given l i f e to h e r s e l f . This has been the ultimate jest of-God, that she he r s e l f held the key to the crypt, that she had chosen the l i f e she wanted. If , i n The Stone Angel, our recognition of the myth i s retro-spective, i n A Jest of God i t i s immediate and v i t a l . Hagar's s e l f -- 34 -acceptance comes too l a t e to allow her more than a token integration before she i s swept forward into the darkness, Rachel's strength i s tentative but p o s i t i v e ; her f u l f i l l m e n t w i l l come from the knowledge that she i s i n harmony with the cycle of growth, mat-uration and eventual old age, "I w i l l be d i f f e r e n t , I w i l l remain the same" (p, 2 0 1 ) , The woman she has become contains both mother and daughter, contains a l l p o s s i b i l i t i e s . Laurence has said, of Rachel; "Her emergence from the tomb-like atmosphere of her extended childhood i s a p a r t i a l defeat—orj looked at another way, a p a r t i a l v i c t o r y . " 1 1 Rachel i s aware of the ambivalence of her " p a r t i a l victory," but the ego strength she has gained enables her to see her l i f e as opening out i n space and time; sVhe has been 12 given "a place and a meaning i n the l i f e of the generations." In The Diviners 3 Laurence raises an h i s t o r i c a l event to the mythic l e v e l ; t h i s i s one of the significances of her t i t l e . In an exploration of the ways i n which human s u b j e c t i v i t y makes use of myth, she begins the book symbolically at Batoche, with the struggle between the Metis and the Arkanys, the Orkney men. Here, Tonnerre meets Gunn, the thunder of righteous possession meets the gun of the new displacement. As the Scot i s dispossessed of his land, so he i n turn dispossesses the Metis. The focus i s 1 1G, D. Killam, Introduction to Jest of God, by Margaret Laurence (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1974 )> n. pag. 1 2 T Jung, p. 162 . - 3 5 -at i t s Widest, the meeting of the protagonists; i t w i l l narrow and narrow u n t i l i t meets i n the person of Pique Gunn Tonnerre, the i n h e r i t o r of the legends of both races,, The c h i l d of Mo rag Gunn and Jules Tonnerre, she must reconcile the l i v i n g future with the dead past, somehow to accept the truth i n each. The book a c t u a l l y begins during the summer i n Morag's l i f e when she must examine her l i f e ; she has come to that point i n the cycle when she must reli n q u i s h the urgencies of youth. I t i s a r i t e of passage i n which the aging Morag searches the past for the g i r l she was, and for acceptance of the woman she w i l l become. Always a strong woman, she-has attributed that strength to her heritage, to the songs and myths that have helped to shape her a r t . I t i s not u n t i l she can place her own l i f e i n the perspective of constantly reshaped memory, the r i v e r of memory along which she, and now Pique, are moving, that she can see the dead past as myth which must be interpreted to accommodate the future. L i v i n g i n a small farmhouse i n Ontario, Morag i s wr i t i n g a novel which we may assume i s The Diviners. Before the house, 13 the rxver flows both ways: This apparently impossible contradiction, made apparent and possible, s t i l l fascinated Morag, even a f t e r the years of r i v e r watching. Margaret Laurence, The Diviners (Toronto: Bantam, 1 9 7 5 ) , P« A l l references are to t h i s text, with page numbers i n parenthesis - 36 -The r i v e r and memory are one i n metaphor; both are ultimately unknowable, flowing i n currents, eddies, layers, showing what they choose to show* Morag has been watching a l l her l i f e ; maturity has brought the knowledge that there i s no absolute truth i n memory, only the personal voice. Her f i r s t memories are invented, prompted by snapshots of he r s e l f as a small c h i l d . These memories are fantasy; "I am remembering myself, composing t h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . . . " (p. 8 ) , not only fantasy, but f i l t e r e d through the many layers of Morag 1s experience. There are snapshots, Memorybank movies, and innerfilm memories within the Movies, and even imagined conversations with Catherine Parr T r a i l l which evolve out of Morag's feelings of inadequacy. Her r e a l memories begin with the death of her parents, when she goes to l i v e with C h r i s t i e and Prin Logan. Prin, short f o r Princess, i s a woman whose fear of the world has l e d her retreat into a l i f e of purely o r a l s a t i s f a c t i o n , eating u n t i l she i s turned into an immobile mountain of f l e s h . An immense parody of f e r t i l i t y , Prin has had a dead c h i l d , and i s l i k e a. c h i l d her-s e l f , "a young c h i l d who's yet to learn much speech" (p. 2 5 0 ) . The power of language i s a major theme i n the book; a l l who are deprived of t h e i r "mother" tongue are powerless i n some area of t h e i r l i v e s . Prin i s the reverse of her husband; Ch r i s t i e ' s - 37 -speech s p i l l s out i n oracular eloquence. I t i s from him that Morag hears the t a l e s of Piper Gunn and- Black Morag, his woman, and t h e i r heroic struggles to make a new l i f e for themselves. His Scottish heritage i s a l l important t o - C h r i s t i e but to some extent he i s l i k e his wife; his imagination i s imprisoned^ having l o s t the Gaelic. Nevertheless, he i s a soothsayer, although what he speaks i s that version of the t r u t h which f u l f i l l s h is needs. C h r i s t i e has the " g i f t of the garbage-telling" (p. 75)» He i s the town scavenger, taking the detrit u s of his world to the Nuisance Grounds, where he s i f t s and examines i t . His name leads in e v i t a b l y to thoughts of a Christ figure, and he does indeed take upon himself the sins of the world. The inner l i f e of the town l i e s before him—alcoholism, sexuality, an aborted fetus— but he condemns no one. A shaman, he throws the bones for Morag and Jules Tonnerre, nicknamed Skinner, the Metis boy who i s the descendant of Rider Tonnerre of Batoche. History has come to Jules through his father, Lazarus, and he believes that because he has his grandfather's name, he w i l l have his power. But Jules i s doubly deprived; he has l o s t both French and Cree and t h i s i s a burden he w i l l not be able to overcome. In memory,.Morag sees him standing s i l e n t through the singing of the Maple Leaf Forever, and thinks c h i l d i s h l y , "He comes from Nowhere. He i s n ' t anybody" (p. 7 0 ) . Knowing nothing of his culture, she sees him as lacking i d e n t i t y . Jules w i l l l a t e r accept,society's - 38 -r e j e c t i o n o f h i m , a n d s i n g o f h i s f a t h e r : L a z a r u s , h e w a s K i n g o f N o t h i n g ; L a z a r u s , h e n e v e r h a d a d i m e . He w a s s o m e t i m e s o n R e l i e f , h e w a s p e r m a n e n t o n g r i e f , a n d N o w h e r e w a s t h e p l a c e h e s p e n t h i s t i m e . ( p . 462) L i k e N i a l l C a m e r o n , L a z a r u s r e i g n s a s - K i n g o f t h e D e a d , a n d i t i s i n h i s p l a c e , t h e v a l l e y w h e r e t h e T o n n e r r e s l i v e , t h a t M o r a g h a s h e r f i r s t s e x u a l e x p e r i e n c e . W i t h J u l e s , i r o n i c a l l y i n t h e u n i f o r m o f t h e Q u e e n ' s Own C a m e r o n H i g h l a n d e r s , s h e g o e s down t o t h e V a l l e y t h r o u g h t h e snow o f l a t e w i n t e r , a n d a l t h o u g h t h e i r i n t e r c o u r s e i s i n c o m p l e t e , i t i s t h e b e g i n n i n g o f a r e l a t i o n s h i p w h i c h w i l l p r o f o u n d l y a f f e c t M o r a g ' s l i f e . The V a l l e y b e c o m e s l i t e r a l l y t h e p l a c e o f d e a t h w h e n P i q u e t t e , J u l e s ' s i s t e r , u s e d a n d a b a n d o n e d b y h e r w h i t e h u s b a n d , d i e s i n t h e b u r n i n g T o n n e r r e s h a c k w i t h h e r t w o c h i l d r e n . F o r M o r a g , a w i t n e s s t o t h e d e s o -l a t i o n , t h e n a u s e a t i n g s m e l l o f b u r n t f l e s h a n d t h e d e s p a i r o f L a z a r u s a r e a n i n d i c t m e n t o f s o c i e t y ' s t r e a t m e n t o f J u l e s ' p e o p l e . T h e r e i s o n l y d e a t h , s p i r i t u a l a n d p h y s i c a l , f o r t h o s e who r e m a i n i n t h e V a l l e y ; o n l y J a c q u e s , J u l e s ' y o u n g e r b r o t h e r , w i l l e s c a p e t o l i v e a t G a l l o p i n g M o u n t a i n . M o r a g ' s e s c a p e c o m e s w i t h t h e e n d o f t h e w a r , w h e n s h e g o e s t o U n i v e r s i t y . H e r f a r e w e l l t o P r i n , who h a s n e a r l y l o s t s p e e c h e n t i r e l y , i s n o t t o a m o t h e r f i g u r e b u t t o a c h i l d , i m p r i s o n e d i n a " h u l k o f a n o n y m o u s o x f l e s h " ( p . 173) . A t t h e U n i v e r s i t y , - 39 -she marries Brooke Skelton and during her marriage to him, his t e r r i b l e need for reassurance, for the r e f l e c t i o n of his own i d e n t i t y from her, causes her to submerge herself, to play the role he has assigned to her. Part of the message from the Memory-bank Movies i s that they had l i e d to each other; each had sought for something which the other had f a l s e l y t r i e d to re-f l e c t . In her longing for a c h i l d , Morag i s t r y i n g to reaffirm her growing maturity. Her unquenchable v i t a l i t y and the demands of her art f i n a l l y cause the breach-between them, when her novel i s accepted for publication, and Brooke cannot hide his fear and h o s t i l i t y . This period of-her l i f e has been a kind of death of the s p i r i t , and her escape from Brooke's denial of l i f e comes when she again meets Jules. One of Laurence's most ambivalent characters, Jules has embraced death when, i n spite of his awareness, he refuses to conform to white society. As rescuer of Morag from death i n l i f e , and as a singer of songs, he i s an Orpheus figure, with the power to bestow l i f e . He does t h i s through his songs, giving new l i f e to his legends. Morag goes with him to his room; i n spi t e of i t s squalor, on the f l o o r is-earth-coloured linoleum, covered with red poppies. Morag t e l l s Jules of Prin's funeral, of singing Jerusalem the Golden, with i t s message of milk and honey i n the pastures of the blessed, and of her r e a l i s a t i o n of the s t e r i l i t y of her l i f e with her husband. "I'm the shaman," - 40 -says Jules (p. 273) ; t h e i r intercourse i s the magic she needs to break the grip of Brooke's morbidity. This i s his g i f t to her; Morag's to him i s the truth about his s i s t e r ' s death. Her exorcism of Brooke mirrors his exorcism of Piquette's death, during "the deep and t e r r i f y i n g night" (p. 275)« Their b r i e f a f f a i r over, Morag trav e l s to Vancouver on the t r a i n . Looking out of the window, she thinks of the crocuses under the snow; people didn't know, she thinks, "they didn't know the renewal that came out of the dead cold" (p. 282) . The "dead cold" of her l i f e with Brooke i s over and her renewal w i l l come with the b i r t h of her c h i l d . I t i s at t h i s stage of the book that Morag f e e l s her l i f e moving on i n the cycle. Entitled"Rites of Passage," the chapter she writes now moves s w i f t l y through memory. The Rites are multi-layered i n themselves, as the young Morag moves into maternity, the c h i l d Pique moves through childhood, and the mature writer moves into middle age. The many facets of memory enable Morag the writer to be a l l three simultaneously; even the photographs of the c h i l d Pique are indistinguishable from those of the c h i l d Morag. The unique psychic r e a l i t y of the grain goddess who i s three-in-one i s contained i n the a r t i s t who, through her art , i s mother and daughter, even as she moves inexorably toward old age. In her love for Pique i s the knowledge - 41 -that her daughter has replaced her on centre stage: Mine [her l i f e ! hasn't been so bad. Been? Time running out. Is that what i s r e a l l y going on, with me, now, with her? Pique, harbinger of my death, continuer of l i f e . (p. 290) But i n the Memorybank Movies, Pique i s only now born, i n Vancou-ver. Morag's l i f e i s f u l l of her w r i t i n g and her c h i l d ; casual a f f a i r s are frighteningly unsatisfactory. On a b r i e f v i s i t , Jules t e l l s her of the death of his brother and of his dying s i s t e r Val. Of his brother Jacques at Galloping Mountain, Jules says, "Maybe i t ' s not too l a t e for him and h i s " (p. 341) . When Morag t e l l s Pique of Galloping Mountain, the c h i l d says pro-p h e t i c a l l y , "I'm going there someday" (p. 369) . Pique's search for her heritage w i l l be successful; Morag's i s not. On a v i s i t to Scotland, where she i s involved with a curiously i n s ubstantial character named Dan McRaith, she i s within reach of Sutherland, the mythic place of C h r i s t i e ' s t a l e s : ...I don't need to go there because I know now what i t was I had to learn t h e r e . . . i t ' s not mine, except a long way back. I always thought i t was the land of my ancestors, but i t i s not. (p.391) The revelation that her true home i s the land where she was born i s a psychic turning from the land of her fathers; r e b i r t h and renewal can only come from a going forward, rather than a - 42 -turning back. Laurence has said, of her own background: i t f I recognised that, i n point of fact, these ancestors were very far away from me and that Scotland to me was just an ancestral memory, almost i n a Jungian sense. This knowledge takes her back to Canada and a dying C h r i s t i e i n Manawaka; his l a s t words are an acknowledgement of his love for her and of her power to transmute the mundane to the mythic. As her farewell to Ch r i s t i e i s the sound of the pipes, so i t i s her farewell to the strength of imposed c u l t u r a l memories, memories which can now be seen as a l i v i n g but not dominant part of her heritage. That t h i s heritage i s very much a part of her day-to-day consciousness i s emphasized by the use of the present tense i n the Memorybank Movies. The present contains i t s own v i t a l i t y and can sustain the use of the l i t e r a r y past; Laurence i n t e n s i f i e s the immediacy of memory as Morag moves i n imagination through her past l i f e . Pique's growing involvement i n her own history i s given d i r e c t i o n when Jules v i s i t s them for the l a s t time. His g i f t to her i s his songs; as Persephone transmuted Pluto's seed into riches, so Pique can purge Jules' songs of t h e i r b i t -Clara Thomas, The Manawaka World of Margaret (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1976) p. 99. Laurence - 43 -terness by making them part of her o r a l heritage. To Morag, Jules gives the k i l t pin which Lazarus had obtained from Hagar Shipley's son John. In a kind of totemic exchange, Morag i s able to give him the knife which Lazarus had traded for the pin, given to her by C h r i s t i e years before. This knife w i l l return to Pique when, dying of cancer, Jules cuts his throat. In his i l l n e s s y he i s deprived of his songs, the only language he has l e f t . But t h i s language has been corrupted by his hatred; he has been trapped i n the destructiveness of a concentration on an irrecoverable past. In his communication to his daughter, the songs are purged of t h i s destructiveness and can be used by her to b u i l d a new consciousness of race. She i n her turn w i l l pass on the t r a -d i t i o n at Galloping Mountain, where Jaques seems to be r a i s i n g a. new i n h e r i t o r for the land. In spite of his death-like aspects, Jules, too, i s one of the Diviners, both i n the sense of being a seer, and as one who can bring riches from the depths. For Morag, he represents the l i b e r a t i o n of her sexuality and the giver of the greatest g i f t , her daughter Pique. From Christie^ Morag has received her mem-ories of a heroic past; her own growing maturity has transmuted these memories into her l i v i n g a r t . From yet another diviner, the old man Royland, comes the r e a l i s a t i o n that her own g i f t w i l l one day have to be relinquished, passed on: - 44 -The g i f t , or portion of grace, or whatever i t was, was f i n a l l y withdrawn, to be given to someone else, (p. 452) Morag i s herself j of course, the greatest diviner, and the wealth she has brought from the depths i s her strength and her a b i l i t y to pass on t h i s strength to her daughter.' With the r e a l i s a t i o n that there i s no truth, and a l l truth, i n memory, comes her acceptance of the forces which carry her along the continuum towards old age. The approach of winter i s , for her, both actual and symbolic; as Pique goes west, to a new l i f e , Morag w i l l remain, the oracle of truth, w r i t i n g down her "private and f i c t i o n a l words." While not as symbolically evocative of the Persephone myth as The Stone Angel and A Jest of God, the presence of the myth i n The Diviners i s unmistakable. Without an i d e n t i f i a b l e mother figure, the young Morag searches for personal truth and f u l -f i l l m e n t amidst the memories of the fathers. The actual father figure of Brooke contains her within a l i f e where there can be no growth, a l i f e where language i s not fresh but used to redefine old ideas. Because t h i s l i f e i s sexually s a t i s f y i n g , she can accept it,.'"until her longing for a c h i l d , for the con-t i n u i t y of motherhood, drives her out. From the b i r t h of her daughter, Morag gains strength and maturity; as her writ i n g was the catalyst which released her from Brooke, so now i t s power - 45 -i s a r e f l e c t i o n of her growing re j e c t i o n of those elements of the past which are fixed, not capable of transformation or new l i f e . Words and language have been the manifestation of the wealth and f e r t i l i t y of the imagination; now t h i s richness can be passed on i n ever greater abundance. While The Diviners i s the most complex i n structure of Laurence's novels, i t s heroine i s one of her most s t r a i g h t -forward. Unencumbered by the r i g i d i t y and fear of personal invasion which characterise Hagar Shipley and Rachel Cameron, she moves forward i n her l i f e to a greater knowledge of h e r s e l f and her strengths. Her r e c o n c i l i a t i o n of l i f e and death, of past and future, i s expressed i n her writing, as Pique's w i l l be i n her songs. Morag's l a s t words are of the r i v e r , symbol of l i f e and movement. "Look forward into the past and back into the future, u n t i l the silence,!!' (p, 453)» This i s not the silence of death, but the silence at the centre of the cycle which i s the eternal present. I t i s within t h i s centre that Laurence's most memorable heroines move, i n t h e i r search for f u l f i l l m e n t and growth. - 46 -Chapter I I I "Right now I'm working with labyrinths. ...at the centre of the labyrinth was the mother." MARGARET ATWOOD1 To enter the labyrinth means, presumably, that one wishes to reach the centre, but there i s a t e r r i b l e ambivalence here; w i l l i t be the Mother one encounters, or the Minotaur?And how i s one to t e l l the difference? To discover the Mother i n the maze i s to discover the s e l f ; i f there i s schism within the i n d i v i d u a l , there may be r e j e c t i o n and f l i g h t . The labyrinth with which At-wood works i s , of course, the psyche, and the choice i s between l i f e and death. The embrace of the Mother implies psychical i n -tegration, the embrace of the monster i s the death of the s p i r i t . Because of t h e i r separation from the Mother, Atwood's heroines are denied the protection of her strength, and f i n d themselves threatened by both man and society. Where man and woman should be a l l i e s , they have, because of man's corruption by a t r i v i a l i s e d society, become alienated from themselves and each other. Sex i s a weapon rather than a union and often, i n Atwood's poetry, death comes i n sexual images. "''Gail van Varseveld, "Talking with Atwood, " Room of One's Own, l , No. 2 (1975), 66-70 . ~ 47 -Sometimes the maze i s entered i n the b e l i e f that love l i e s w ithin. Marion, i n The Edible Woman, threads her way through the streets, and the hallways of his building, to f i n d Peter, who w i l l t r y to devour her. Joan Foster, the Lady Oracle, en-ters the labyrinth i n an ostensible search for romantic ad-venture, but finds instead an irrecoverably fragmented s e l f . The multiple personae she has'projected have appropriated her l i f e . Only i n Surfacing does the heroine seem to be re-united with those elements of her personality which symbolise the flow of the cycle, but even here there i s equivocation. Although she i s beginning a new l i f e , she has car r i e d death within her, i n her i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with the father. The woman who has embraced death) and consequently ste-r i l i t y , i s a f a m i l i a r figure i n Atwood^s work. Her f i r s t book of poems, Double Persephone, i s a sombre depiction of love as death. The lovers are imprisoned within a Hermaphroditic body, supremely self-contained. Persephone i s l i f e and death i n one: The dancing g i r l ' s a withered crone; Though her deceptive smile Lures l i f e from earth, r a i n from the sky. I t hides a wicked s i c k l e ; 2 Atwood, Double Persephone, n. pag. - 48 -In "Procedures f o r Underground" Persephone brings the dead with * 3 her, to surround her as "an i n v i s i b l e cloak," The descent and subsequent ascent have brought "wisdom and great power" but she walks among the shades, who beckon her "back down," Persephone w i l l long to return to her chthonic lover; her assumption of the role of Queen of the- Dead and her reluctance to re-enter the world of growth has e f f e c t i v e l y shut out the Mother, Thus, she must be incomplete, Atwood's work contains many instances of perverted maternity and in i m i c a l relations with the Mother, Persephone's union with the Lord of the Dead i s an escape from the f e r t i l i t y which l i e s ahead i n her maturity. The f l i g h t from the re-affirmation of s e l f which f e r t i l i t y implies i s evident i n Atwood's f i r s t work of f i c t i o n , The Edible Woman. Marion. McAlpin's hold on herself i s tenuous; the f i r s t words of the novel are ominous, "I know I was a l l right 4 on Friday,..". Although the s t y l e i s l i g h t and amusing, images of fear and di s s o l u t i o n appear more and more t h i c k l y u n t i l we are faced with Marion's breakdown. 3 Margaret Atwood, Procedures For Underground (Toronto: Ox-ford Univ. Press, 1970).pp. 24-25. 4 " t Margaret Atwood, The Edible Woman (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1969),p. 11. A l l subsequent references are to t h i s text, with page numbers i n parenthesis. - 49 -A l l her e f f o r t s have been toward camouflage: her clothing i s nondescript, she goes to great lengths to make herself appear conventional, and her job i s one of the non-productive jobs so prevalent i n our society. In her work for a food t e s t i n g service, she confronts d a i l y the meaninglessness of her work and the i n -creasing e f f o r t s of society to t r i v a l i s e l i f e . She has chosen her lover c a r e f u l l y ; he i s a man with so l i t t l e i d e n t i t y that she can enter into him almost without danger. The building i n which he l i v e s i s an extension of him; wires dangle l i k e nerves, the floor s have "a rough, gray, underskin," soon there w i l l be se-cretions from the shiny surface. His apartment i s equally unfinished, with sparse furnishings, but with an extensive c o l l e c t i o n of guns and cameras, Marion can block out the threat as long as the eyes of the cameras are hidden. Sex with Peter i s undistinguished and openly equated with a death image. As they make love i n the bath, Marion sees herself as a drowned woman, the water r i s i n g to cover them both. This image recurs often i n Atwood's work, prose and poetry. The image of the r e f l e c t i v e surface a c t u a l l y containing the drowned yet sentient woman i s a powerful one. The woman has retreated into her reverse s e l f ; as one and yet unattainable because out of reach, her two personae can maintain a kind of i n t e g r i t y im-possible when vulnerable. - 5 0 -But Peter, too, has a reverse image. Duncan, whom Marion seemingly conjures up, i s also a figure of death, but on a more mythic l e v e l . She i s t e r r i b l y a f r a i d of invasion of s e l f , either by love or by f e r t i l i t y . When Peter proposes to her, she rea l i s e s that her attempts to put a r e f l e c t i v e surface between he r s e l f and the world have f a i l e d ; her strong i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with the disembowelled rabbit of his hunting story leads her to fl e e i n panic. Eventually, she consents to marry him, and sees her own r e f l e c t i o n , now captive within his eyes. A further i n -trusion into her already f r a g i l e sense of s e l f i s Ainsley's announced intention to become pregnant, and the frightening fecundity of Clare and Joe. Clare i s turning into an i r o n i c echo of Blake's Vegetable Woman, "looking l i k e some strange vegetable growth," while her children are likened to limpets and other parasites. Marion's f l i g h t from a l l t h i s takes her to the laundromat where she again meets Duncan, who i s cadaverously t h i n , and whose skin i s unearthly i n the g l a r i n g l i g h t of white t i l e . Together they watch the clot h i n g behind the round glass eyes of the machines. Unlike the eyes of Peter's cameras, where the image i s frozen into immobility, there i s movement here but also a f l i g h t from humanity. Marion f e e l s "as serene as a stone moon" (p. 9 9 ) , i n the white glare. Duncan w i l l not t e l l her where he i s from, - 5 1 -only that i t i s a mining town, with no vegetation. "...I'm not human at a l l , I come from the underground," he says (p. 1 4 1 ) . I t i s his dream to have no seasons, but permanent white leaves on black trees. As they part, they embrace; his body fe e l s l i k e "parchment stretched on a frame of wire coathangers," and an advertisement urges Marion to "give the g i f t of l i f e " (p. 1 0 1 ) . Now i n a schizoid state, Marion, l i k e the rabbit, goes" under-ground. She i s i n "a private burrow." The novel i s no longer i n the f i r s t person. The change to the t h i r d person marks the be-ginning of the r i t u a l ; the seeker becomes the Other and must be observed. The f i r s t r e a l i s a t i o n of her ordeal comes i n the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of her steak as having been part of a living creature. The archetypal f e r t i l i t y figure she sees i n her r e f l e c t i o n i n a spoon (huge torso narrowing to a pinhead) has not disturbed hep, but when the meat appears she i s prevented from eating i t . This i s the f i r s t of a series of injunctions against various foods. On the surface, her actions appear to be a revolt against society's attempts to consume her, but on a deeper l e v e l i t i s she who i s being punished for acquiescing i n that consumption. Just as Pluto i s an i n t e g r a l part of Persephone, as the death wish i s an inescapable part of the human personality, so Duncan i s a kind of animus figure f o r Marion. "I'm the universal sub-s t i t u t e " (p. 1 4 5 ) , he t e l l s her, and as such, i s not only the reverse mirror image of Peter, but can also represent Marion's - 52 -f l i g h t from growth and renewal. As Peter represents the death of the s e l f through society, through mediocrity, Duncan i s the death wish within the schizophrenic s e l f . Like the two d o l l s she has c a r r i e d with her since childhood, the d o l l s which resemble Peter and Duncan, she has car r i e d with her t h i s desire for the o b l i v i o n of the s e l f . I t i s not u n t i l she reaches the centre of the labyrinth at Peter's party that she sees her danger. Here i s the culmination of her wanderings through corridors and streets, and she sees that the figure awaiting her i s armed. As Peter aims the i n i m i c a l eye of the camera at her, she sees him as destroyer and he r s e l f as victim; "She should never have worn red. I t made her the perfect target" (p. 244). Though her escape from Peter i s not to safety, i t nevertheless brings her to a tentative acceptance of herself and her death wish. With Duncan, she goes on a journey to a ravine within the c i t y . As they descend into i t through clusters of dead weeds, Marion sees the marks of horse's hooves. At the centre of the ravine i s a p i t into which they gaze. The sight of t h i s enormous sexual image makes Duncan "f e e l human," When Marion ascends from the ravine, he remains behind. Restored to a kind of spurious normalcy, Marion cleans her apartment and bakes a s a c r i f i c i a l cake which she o f f e r s to Peter - 5 3 -as a s u b s t i t u t e f o r h e r s e l f . His r e f u s a l to eat she sees as a t a c i t admission t h a t he w i l l accept o n l y the r e a l woman, but Duncan w i l l i n g l y consumes her s u r r o g a t e . The ending i s not e n t i r e l y s a t i s f a c t o r y , and as always w i t h Atwood, h i g h l y ambiguous. Marion's breakdown has begun i n summer and ended i n winter; she i s l e f t suspended w i t h no sense o f r e s o l u t i o n . There can be no f u l f i l l m e n t w i t h Duncan, who speaks o f sex as "the coup de grace." Atwood has g i v e n her h e r o i n e l i t t l e c h o i c e ; she may have overcome the s p i r i t u a l d e s t r u c t i o n i n h e r e n t i n her s o c i e t y , but she must s t i l l f a c e her own f e a r of growth and f u l f i l l m e n t , Atwood's next n o v e l , S u r f a c i n g , i s a l s o concerned w i t h t h i s theme, but t h e r e i s a much more s e r i o u s treatment o f the mythic aspects o f p s y c h i c d i s s o l u t i o n and recov e r y . Again, the c e n t r a l c h a r a c t e r i s a woman threatened by man and s o c i e t y , but her background, t h a t of a r e c l u s i v e c h i l d , has made her breakdown more profound. Because the world has been a t t a c k i n g her body, through bad food and bad sex, the he r o i n e has a s t r o n g d e s i r e f o r s e l f - d i s s o l u t i o n , e i t h e r i n t o p s y c h i c withdrawal, or i n t o a p r i m i t i v e s t a t e o f non-being. She has become s c h i z o p h r e n i c through her i n a b i l i t y t o r e c o n c i l e the demands made upon her w i t h her i n n e r c o n v i c t i o n s about the saeredness of l i f e . Her breakdown takes on the dimension o f myth as she becomes the - 54 -shamanistic figure, the bridge between the mythic s p i r i t s of place and time, and the i n d i v i d u a l who must come to terms with the c o n f l i c t of the l i f e and death impulses. As she fantasizes about her husband arid c h i l d , we learn that she has rejected any involvement but the sexual with her lover, Joe, Sex i s necessary to s a t i s f y the body, but emotional re-lationships are too dangerous. In Atwood's poetry, the dichotomy inherent i n a relationship where union i s both sought and feared i s represented as a body divided:^ your body with head attached and my head with body attached, coincide b r i e f l y . The d i v i s i o n of body and mind, and by extension, the divided psyche, i s the product of a profound a l i e n a t i o n from the true source of l i f e . The narrator of Surfacing r e a l i s e s the danger; " i f the head i s detached from the body," she says, "both w i l l die" (p, 7 6 ) , Nevertheless, she has been powerless to prevent t h i s happening to her; "At some point, my neck must have closed over, pond freezing or a wound, shutting me into my head" (p, 105)• Her f r i e n d Anna, too, has been s p l i t , but irrevocably. The head shows a face, painted and unmarked, while the orgasmic c r i e s are those of a trapped animal. Margaret Atwood, Power P o l i t i c s (Toronto: Anansi, 1971) , p. 11 - 55 -The novel begins as the Seeker, who i s nameless ( t r a d i -t i o n a l l y a sign of great power), returns to the lake where she spent part of her childhood. Accompanied by Joe, David and Anna, she has come to f i n d her father who has disappeared. The marriage of David and Anna i s a t r u l y corrupt relationship of interdependence and hatred. Their mutual humiliation i s con-trasted with what the heroine, imagines to have been the marriage of her mother and father, David and Joe are making a f i l m of monumental aimlessness and t r i v i a l i t y c a l l e d "Random Samples," Part one i s i n the present tense, as reader and Seeker move through the f a m i l i a r s e t t i n g of woods and cabin, seeking the father, "I'm a l l r i g h t , " she t e l l s us, her pain evident i n every a t t i t u d e . There are memories of her family, and a growing r e a l i s a t i o n by the reader that i t i s the mother who has provided the s t i l l centre, the power of s t a b i l i t y i n her childhood: My father explained everything, but my mother never did, which only convinced me that she had the answers but wouldn't t e l l , (p. 74) Although she senses that "the only place l e f t for me i s that of my mother" (p, 52), i t i s as yet impossible to take that place; she must not only exorcise the s p i r i t of the actual father, she . must r i d herself of the influence of the p a t e r n a l i s t i c society i n which she l i v e s . - 5 6 -The central metaphor of the book i s the descent into dark-ness where a supernatural experience occurs, and the subsequent ascent back to l i g h t and l i f e . One can either remain i n the darkness and drown or be reborn into l i f e . The mother has the power to restore l i f e to the dead; as the Seeker stands beside the lake, she remembers that " i t ' s the same dock my brother f e l l o f f the time he drowned" (p. 3 2 ) . His restoration had been due to the power of the mother and she believes that she herself watched the resurrection, present i n her mother's womb. Memories of her own c h i l d surface, s t a r i n g out from within the s t e r i l e womb of a glass j a r . Emotionally greatly disturbed, she sees the lake as "blue and cool as redemption...the goal reached a f t e r great s u f f e r i n g " (p. 1 5 ) • But the lake i s imbued with the s p i r i t of her father, and t h i s s p i r i t bars the way to the mythic r e c o n c i l i a t i o n she seeks. A l l around her are evidences of the p a t e r n a l i s t i c society she fears and she attri b u t e s t h i s damage to "the Americans." This term i s applied to anyone who destroys the sacredness of natural l i f e , but, i n fact, the dead heron, with which she i d e n t i f i e s so strongly (both semantically and actual l y ) has been k i l l e d by Canadians. In her work, she has been denied the colour red, because of cost. Now, as primitive man would s t a i n with red - 57 -that which he wished to bring to l i f e , " she feels her hands stained with the blood of the dead b i r d , and the r i t u a l i s about to begin. Although her disturbed personality was formed i n childhood i n the shock of constant t r a n s i t i o n from i s o l a t e d cabin to c i t y , the manifestations of her breakdown have begun with the descent into anaesthetic during her pregnancy: They slipped the needle into the vein and I was f a l l i n g down, i t was l i k e diving, sinking from one layer of darkness to a deeper, deepest; when I rose up through the anaesthetic, pale green and then daylight, I could remember nothing. (p. I l l ) Not c h i l d b i r t h but abortion, the destruction of her c h i l d i s f e l t as a betrayal; " i t was.hiding i n me as i f i n a burrow...I l e t them catch i t " (p. 145). Thus i t i s the c h i l d she seeks as well as the father, and she seeks them i n the depths. Her search takes her to a place of submerged Indian rock paintings, a sacred place, and there she enters the water, entering her own r e f l e c t i o n . What she finds, of course, i s death, although she cannot yet accept t h i s . Her longing to f i n d her father i s equated with death i n the depths; reintegration of the personality and and s e l f - a c t u a l i s a t i o n await i n the l i g h t above. C i r l o t , p. 53 - 5 8 -Estranged from Joe because of his proposal of marriage, she nevertheless plans the r i t u a l i s t i c conception of a c h i l d whom she w i l l both accompany to the land of the l i v i n g , and model herself upon i n her f i n a l c r i s i s , Joe i s acceptable because his body has hair on i t , he has known silence, and he i s not one of the Americans, Their intercourse i s the invocation of a super-natural being: I l i e down, keeping the moon on my l e f t hand and the absent sun on my right,,,then I can fe e l my l o s t c h i l d surfacing within me, fo r -giving me, r i s i n g from the lake where i t had been imprisoned so long, i t s eyes and teeth phosphorescent: the two halves clasp, i n t e r -locking l i k e fingers, i t buds, i t sends out fronds, (pp, 161-162) She w i l l incorporate death i n l i f e ; as the c h i l d grows within her, she herself w i l l go through the stages of f o e t a l develop-ment, to be reborn at the appropriate time. Simultaneously mother and c h i l d , both w i l l r i s e from the depths into the l i g h t . Destroying the f i l m , hiding, she remains behind as Joe, David, and Anna leave. The period of p u r i f i c a t i o n before r e b i r t h must be endured; as i n The Edible Woman, there are progressively fewer places she can go and foods she can eat. Now even the talismanic leather jacket worn by her mother has l o s t i t s power, and she destroys the contents of the cabin, the remnants of her former l i f e , "I abolish them, I have to clea r a space" (p, 177)• - 59 -She bathes i n the lake and waits, naked but for a blanket, for the space to be inhabited. The r e a l world f a l l s away as she retreats into herself and, a l l humanity gone, she i d e n t i f i e s t o t a l l y with the s p i r i t of the place: I lean against a tree, I"am a tree leaning ...I am the thing i n which the trees and animals move and grow, I am a place. - (p. l 8 l ) Her mother appears to her i n a hal l u c i n a t i o n , but vanishes again 0 Only when she sees her dead father i n the t e r r i b l e form of a creature'from the pictographs does the recovery begin, but within the recovery are the remnants of a compulsion toward d i s s o l u t i o n : I see now that although i t i s n ' t my father i t i s what my father has become. I knew he wasn't dead...when I go to the fence, the footprints are there, side by side i n the mud. My breath quickens, i t was true, I saw i t . But the prints are too small, they have toes; I place my feet i n them and f i n d that they are my own. (p. 187) Her i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with "the father i s strong enough to project the v i s i o n that i t i s he, not she, who i s the mythic being. Atwood means us to f e e l that the quest has brought a tentative f u l f i l l m e n t , but here i s evidence to the contrary. The eyes of the creature have r e f l e c t e d the image of the heroine, yet i f she h e r s e l f i s the creature, she i s s t i l l within the r e f l e c t i o n and has gained l i t t l e . - 60 -And suddenly i t i s over. The t e r r i f y i n g encounters, the chaotic experiences, even the mad journey, come to an end. Mother and Father lose t h e i r mythic power and become merely eccentrics, as the heroine prepares to l i v e out her l i f e . Within her she carri e s "the time t r a v e l l e r . . . t h e f i r s t true human" (p. 191 ) ; conceived i n the place of death, t h i s c h i l d i s to bring f u l f i l l m e n t , and reaffirm-the interrupted cycle of her l i f e . But the supernatural episode i s over; i t has culminated i n an almost banal resolution, and only the place retains i t s power, "asking and giving nothing." Atwood has, i n Surfacing, made an attempt to come to terms with a mythology of place, rather than culture. This may not be possible. No matter how the Seeker disassociates herself from her background, there i s the weight of archetypal mem-ory to reckon with, and when that memory i s common to many 7 cultures, how to escape i t ? In her t h i r d novel, Lady Oracle, Atwood i s less straight forward i n her use of the mythic theme. The heroine i s already dead; she imagines that t h i s i s her own doing and that she can return at any time, but she i s trapped i n a kind of limbo from Jung, p. 130. - 61 -which she w i l l not be able to escape. She s i t s i n I t a l y , i n Terremoto, the place of moving earth, to which she has f l e d from what she would have us believe i s a mock-drowning, Joan Foster i s possessed of three, perhaps four, personal-i t i e s . Three of these express themselves i n l i t e r a r y works of a genre suited to themselves, Joan, who writes the Lady  Oracle we are reading, i s undistinguished to the point of i n v i s i b i l i t y . Although described as a lush Rossetti figure with red hair and green eyes, we never have a sense of her presence. Others see her, but to the reader, she i s a shadow woman, out of reach. Under the nom de plume of Louisa M, Delacourt, she writes novels of Gothic romance, i n which slim v i r g i n a l g i r l s are menaced by voluptuous red-haired women, A t h i r d l i t e r a r y persona has written a visionary work, also e n t i t l e d Lady Oracle; Joan appears i n a l l three, i n various guises. As a grossly fat c h i l d , she had indulged h e r s e l f to punish a r e j e c t i n g and demanding mother. An early memory provides the basis for a l i f e - l o n g fantasy. At a dancing r e c i t a l where she was to have danced as a b u t t e r f l y , i n gauzy wings and b a l l e r i n a dress, she i s betrayed by her mother and forced to dance as a mothball. Although she triumphs, the longing for the b u t t e r f l y costume remains; the fat c h i l d i s transformed into the mythic - 6 2 -Fat Lady, r e v e l l i n g i n her w e i g h t l e s s n e s s , s i n g i n g , s m i l i n g , w a f t i n g a c r o s s Canada on her mythic journey. P a r t o f Joan's s t r u g g l e i s to r e c o n c i l e the grotesque aspects o f t h i s f i g u r e w i t h the j o y and freedom i t a l s o r e p r e s e n t s . Sex, too, has a double a s p e c t , A man h o l d i n g a bunch o f d a f f o d i l s suddenly exposes h i m s e l f t o her; because he i s not t h r e a t e n i n g , she i s not f r i g h t e n e d . L a t e r , when companions have t i e d her to a post i n a r a v i n e , she i s f r e e d by a man whom she i d e n t i f i e s w i t h the d a f f o d i l man. Her f i r s t s e x u a l experience i s thus g transformed i n t o one o f r e l i e f and r e l e a s e : Was the man who u n t i e d me a r e s c u e r or a v i l l a i n ? Or, an even more b a f f l i n g thought: was i t p o s s i b l e f o r a man t o be both a t once? I tur n e d t h i s p u z z l e over i n my mind time a f t e r time, t r y i n g to remember and p i e c e t o g e t h e r the exact f e a t u r e s o f the d a f f o d i l man. But he was e l u s i v e , he melted and changed shape l i k e b u t t e r s c o t c h or warm gum, d i s s o l v i n g i n t o a tweedy mist, sending out menacing t e n -t a c l e s o f f l e s h and k n o t t e d rope, forming a g a i n as a j o y f u l sunburst o f y e l l o w f l o w e r s . While these images—food, sex, f l o w e r s — a r e equated w i t h j o y and freedom, a l l i s w e l l , but t h e r e i s always t h e f e a r i n h e r e n t i n the r e s c u e r / v i l l a i n ambiguity. Margaret Atwood, Lady O r a c l e (Toronto: M c C l e l l a n d & Stewart-Bantam, 1 9 7 6 ) , p. 6 l , A l l subsequent r e f e r e n c e s are to t h i s e d i t i o n , w i t h page numbers i n p a r e n t h e s i s . - 63 -Her r e a l fears are reserved for her r e l a t i o n s h i p with her mother. With a kind of fascinated horror, she watches her mother apply make-up, "I suddenly r e a l i z e d that instead of three r e f l e c t i o n s , she had three actual heads, which rose from her towelled shoulders on three separate necks" (p. 6 4 ) , I t i s not the triple-headed monster that frightens the c h i l d , but the man she imagines waiting outside the door, a man who w i l l enter and "do something t e r r i b l e , not only to my mother, but to me" (p, 6 4 ) • The mother i s a figure of immense f r u s t r a t i o n . Married to a man she does not love, a l l her ambitions unrealised, she sees her c h i l d as "a huge edgeless cloud of inchoate matter which refused to be shaped into anything for which she could get a p r i z e " (p, 6 5 ) , With her father Joan has a r e l a t i o n s h i p of tentative respect. An anaesthetist at Toronto General Hos-p i t a l , he has the power to restore l i f e to the dead. This can, of course, be seen as the power to bestow death on the l i v i n g and during the war, we f i n d that he had been a k i l l e r of a curious kind. Working with the French Underground, "his 30b was to k i l l those they thought were fakes" (p, 7 3 ) , Not only had he become accustomed to t h i s 30b, he had grown to enjoy i t , Joan sees him as a shaman, who knows the t r u t h about l i f e ; - 64 -because of him, she invests the men with whom she becomes involved with the power of l i f e and death. It i s with his s i s t e r that Joan has her only supportive r e l a t i o n s h i p . A surrogate mother, she i s a large appealing lady who wears a fox fur, i s involved i n s p i r i t u a l i s m , and works for a firm which makes sanitary pads.This job embodies the negative aspects of society's (Joan's mother) attitude and the p o s i t i v e aspects of the natural (Louisa) a t t i t u d e . Louisa M. Delacourt advises those with menstrual and other problems; she i s sublimely sensible and i t i s she who shows Joan the way of escape from her mother. On her death, she bequeaths her estate to Joan on the condition that she lose one hundred pounds. As she does so, Joan takes on a new i d e n t i t y , that of the t h i n g i r l she i s pretending to have be-come, but she also assumes her aunt's i d e n t i t y as she takes her papers and wallet. In England, i t i s as Louisa that she begins to write Gothic romances at the suggestion of her f i r s t lover, Paul. A v i s i o n of her mother, i n good s u i t and white gloves but weeping d i s -consolately, announces her death, and sends Joan back to Canada. She imagines that she feels nothing but g u i l t but she embarks on an eating binge, a kind of placatory i d e n t i t y ceremony, i n an e f f o r t to invoke her mother's s p i r i t . The mother i s irrevocably - 65 -* associated with the Fat Lady; the t h i n b e a u t i f u l woman i s the dark side of the fat j o y f u l one. Arthur, whom she marries, i s another shadowy figure who nevertheless has power; Joan sees him as a figure i n .the Coliseum, thumbs up, thumbs down, "the gesture that would pre-serve or destroy" (p. 15)• She keeps her i d e n t i t y as Louisa a secret, working out her subconscious needs i n the characters of her novels. O f f i c i a t i n g at her marriage i s Leda Sprott, the s p i r i t u a l i s t who f i r s t revealed to her her mother i n a s t r a l form. Under the name of Eunice Revele, she 'reveals' to Joan her power to reach her subconscious through automatic w r i t i n g . This e n t a i l s entering the mirror, i n which i s an image of the s e l f . The seeker looks into the r e f l e c t i o n and i s drawn into the 9 labyrinth of the mind; l i k e Bluebeard's wife, what Joan finds there i s the danger inherent i n the adoption of multiple person a l i t i e s . The primal figure within the labyrinth i s a woman; she i s sometimes i n a cave, sometimes a boat, sometimes under the earth. Almost a goddess, she i s enormously powerful, but i t i s not a happy power; She kneels, she i s bent down under the power her tears are dark her tears are jagged 9 Gloria Onley, "Power P o l i t i c s i n Bluebeard's Castle." Canadian Literature 6o(Spring 74) > 21-42. - 66 -her tears are the death you fear Under the water, under the water sky her tears f a l l , they are dark flowers (pp 223-24) Here again i s the obsessively used image, that of the woman beneath the water. Drowned yet seeing, as she looks upward, what she sees from the depths i s "the water sky." Death i s i n the depths of the water as i t i s i n the depths of the earth. And, of course, the death of the s e l f which i s con-tained within the mirror i s also contained i n the r e f l e c t i v e surface of the water. This w i l l be the manner of Joan's deathj she w i l l enter the water and drown, trapped i n her own ref l e c t e d image. The voyaging woman i s part of the book within a book. As the Gothic romances are the work of Louisa, so the visionary Lady Oracle i s the work of that aspect of Joan which i d e n t i f i e s with the woman i n the la b y r i n t h . We can recognize her from her p o r t r a i t : She s i t s on the iro n throne she i s one and three the dark lady the redgold lady the blank lady oracle of blood, she who must be obeyed (p. 228) As one and three, she i s the three-fold aspect of. women,-of which the mother, maiden and crone are manifestations. The voyaging - 67 -mother, the crone w i t h i n her cave, and the daughter on the throne of i r o n ^ she i s the o r a c l e of blood, at once t h r e a t e n i n g and l i f e - g i v i n g . By now, Joan's i d e n t i f i c a t i o n w i t h her characters i s growing out of c o n t r o l . The wicked red-haired F e l i c i a i s coming to a bad end, but i s t r e a t e d w i t h more sympathy. F e l i c i a , as "happiness," i s c l o s e l y l i n k e d w i t h the Fat Lady who a l s o r e -presents Joy. But i n s p i t e of F e l i c i a ' s power, she dies by drowning and the p a l l i d C h a r l o t t e triumphs. The b a r r i e r s a r e . breaking down f u r t h e r as the drowned F e l i c i a begs f o r Arthur's l o v e . Joan's disturbance, h i t h e r t o confined to the romances, i s becoming apparent, as the v i l l a g e r s and her l a n d l o r d eye her w i t h apprehension. Her f e a r at the news t h a t a mysterious man has a r r i v e d searching f o r her expresses; i t s e l f i n images of a f a t woman, caged, "a c a p t i v e Earth mother" (p. 3 3 0 ) . Another v i s i o n of her dead mother brings the admission t h a t " I loved her, but the gl a s s was between us, I would have to go through i t " (p. 3 3 0 ) . Joan sees now t h a t i t has been her mother w i t h i n the l a b y r i n t h a w a i t i n g her, "she had been the lady i n the boat, the death barge." In s p i t e of her love f o r her mother, Joan s t i l l f e a r s her power; "My mother was a vortex, a dark vacuum" (p-. 3 3 1 ) . I t i s not u n t i l she enters the maze o f the Gothic novel t h a t she can come face to face w i t h the aspects of h e r s e l f which c o n t a i n the mother w i t h i n them. - 68 -In her f i n a l f a n t a s y , C h a r l o t t e has been c a s t a s i d e and i t i s a r e v i v i f i e d F e l i c i a who en t e r s the maze. The scene which Joan sees as she begins her v i s i o n m i r r o r s the scene w i t h i n the maze w i t h b l u e sky and s m a l l white c l o u d s . As F e l i c i a / J o a n walks along, the path i s l i n e d w i t h d a f f o d i l s , the f l o w e r of her c h i l d -hood s e x u a l adventure. A t the c e n t r e , f o u r women await her; two are l i k e her, w i t h red h a i r , green eyes, and s m a l l white t e e t h . The two o t h e r s are Aunt Louisa w i t h her r a t t y fox f u r , and the Fat Lady i n spangled costume and f a l s e wings. We now have t h r e e F e l i c i a s , o r two Joans and a F e l i c i a , r e p r e s e n t i n g the v a r i o u s f a c e t s o f Joan's psyche. The Louisa f i g u r e i s the a l t e r ego o f the Gothic n o v e l i s t , the Fat Lady i s the a l t e r ego of the Joan who has w r i t t e n the v i s i o n a r y Lady O r a c l e , and F e l i c i a i s her-s e l f t he Joan who s t r u g g l e s f o r happiness w i t h i n t h e l a b y r i n t h o f her l i f e . The d a f f o d i l s become brambles, and when she t r i e s t o escape through a door, i t i s the demon l o v e r o f the Gothic t a l e , Redmond, who awaits her. She r e a l i z e s her danger as he t u r n s s u c c e s s i v e l y i n t o her f a t h e r and her v a r i o u s l o v e r s , be-coming a t l a s t A r t h u r , her husband. As Redmond once more, he embraces her and as h i s face becomes a s k u l l , begins t o s t r a n g l e h e r . As Joan withdraws from her v i s i o n , she hears someone a t the door; "I opened the door, I knew who i t would be" (p, 343 )• But - 69 -the reader does not know, and i s not t o l d * We may assume that the v i s i t o r i s Death; he i s , says Joan "the only person who knows anything about me" (p. 345)» The f i n a l chapter adds nothing to the book, being simply an account of her growing t r u s t i n him and her resolve to write science f i c t i o n instead of Gothic novels. Although laden with an overabundance of symbolism, the intent of the novel seems f a i r l y c l e a r . The mother has succumbed to external standards of beauty and i s frozen i n her immaturity. Frustrated, she subjects her daughter to impossible demands and the daughter takes refuge i n the shape which w i l l exasperate the mother the most, that of fat person. Joan turns he r s e l f into an obese figure of r i d i c u l e , yet t h i s figure comes to represent joy and freedom for her. We see her p l a i n l y as a fat c h i l d , but when she becomes be a u t i f u l red-haired Joan, she loses r e a l i t y ; i n conforming to her mother's standards, she loses h e r s e l f . Her wr i t i n g i s the song of the Fat Lady;, as the mythic figure bobs gently against the roof of the tent, so Joan f l o a t s i n the water; " i f there's one thing I knew how to- do, i t was f l o a t " (p. 3 06 ) . And f i n a l l y , i n Terremoto, the clothing she has buried beneath the house (and the fears which she has buried i n her sub-conscious) swells up with a l l her vanished f l e s h and engulfs her. "My ghost, my angel," the Fat Lady s e t t l e s on her and o b l i t e r a t e s her. The abundance she represents i s both a t t r a c t i v e and repellent; - 70 -the message within the maze seems to be that i t i s t h i s dichotomy with which Marion w i l l have to come to terms as she enters yet another ambiguous re l a t i o n s h i p . In Margaret Atwood 1s work, we sense a search and exploration, a kind of melancholy encounter with the experience of women. There i s a deep fear of the subterfuges i n the human personality when i t seeks to achieve a balance between what i s desired and what i s allowed, Atwood catches exactly the self-hatred of women who have acquiesced, although perhaps reluctantly, to society's c o n f l i c t i n g demands. The ultimate destructiveness i n t h i s r o l e -playing l i e s i n the i m p o s s i b i l i t y of t r u l y rewarding r e l a t i o n -ships. Soaring into the a i r , suspension i n a i r and water, attempts to enter a foreign element: a l l these are, for Atwood, metaphors for a search for personal truth, for the f u l f i l l m e n t of p o t e n t i a l . For her women, the descent into the realm of the underworld i s to be a prerequisite to maturity and happiness but often, she seems to f i n d the state of non-being which t h i s exemplifies more a t t r a c t i v e than a l t e r n a t i v e , a return to l i f e and l i g h t , Persephone reigns as Queen of the Dead on her i r o n throne; and the f e r t i l i t y and renewal of the mother remain unattainable. CONCLUSION . . . i t i s to reach her that t h i s whole journey has been undertaken. In the works of Margaret Laurence, the emphasis has been on the posi t i v e aspects of the myth; reintegration of the s e l f follows the di s t r e s s of separation (or alienation) from the mothering p r i n c i p l e . Whereas Margaret Atwood's female characters struggle to avoid being victims on a personal l e v e l , they are victimised s o c i a l l y i n a more profound way. Deeply pessimistic about relationships, they see the sexual experience as an i n -vasion, almost an o b l i t e r a t i o n , of s e l f by a demoralised society. The heroine of Surfacing i s misunderstood as she says "I think men should be superior" (p. I l l ) , but the remark springs from her resistance to the role being forced on her and her fear of the stereotypical male as personified by David. She glimpses her own potential for growth, and her mythic passage toward t h i s p o t e n t i a l i s a journey from the world of darkness to the world of l i g h t . But even here, there i s ambivalence and no r e a l development of the mother/daughter cycle; i f her c h i l d i s a son, w i l l her tenuous hold on her new-found strength withstand the intrusion? ^Alice Munro, Something I've Been Meaning to T e l l You (Scar-borough, Ont.: Signet Books, 1 9 7 5 ) , P« 197« Subsequent references are to t h i s edition, with page numbers i n parenthesis. - 7 2 -The society Atwood i n d i c t s i s a p a t e r n a l i s t i c one and the threat of s o c i a l pressure from the male prevents true psychic connexion between man and woman. Her characters lack the ego-strength of Margaret Laurence's Hagar Shipley or Morag Gunn, Hagar's denial of the sexual joy she feels with her husband s t i f l e s the growth of t h e i r relationship, and only on her death-bed can she reconcile the d i v i s i v e elements of her personality. For Morag Gunn, the progression through sexual i n i t i a t i o n to f u l f i l l m e n t and growth i s f a m i l i a r and sought a f t e r . The s t r a i g h t -forwardness of her personal quest p a r a l l e l s her growing desire to r i d h e r s e l f of the f i x a t i o n on her paternal heritage. The downward course of Jules Tonnerre epitomises the destructive side of t h i s obsession but t h i s death figure does not demand a com-panion on his journey; he leaves Morag free to reach her own heights. The heroine of The Diviners moves from girlhood to womanhood along a timeless and predictable path; i n A l i c e Munro 1s Lives of G i r l s and Women, Del Jordan has set her feet on the same path. The book i s a chronicle of a young g i r l ' s growing awareness of her own sexuality and her place i n the world, Del's feelings for her mother are ambivalent; "I did want to repudiate her,,,at the same 2 time I wanted to s h i e l d her" Del thinks i n her embarassment at Mrs, Jordan's s o c i a l intransigeanc'e. She sees the waste of her mother's searching, disorganised i n t e l l i g e n c e , yet cannot help but respond to the malice and disapproval of the aunts, Elspeth and Grace, Her love for her mother contains both i d e n t i f i c a t i o n and contempt, i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with her mother's unique resistance to the bombardment of feminine messages from the world, contempt because the adolescent Del se c r e t l y longs to p a r t i c i p a t e i n the romantic charade, Del l i v e s i n two worlds. There i s the world of business a f f a i r s , i n which her mother t r i e s to make her way; enfolding t h i s , observing i t , judging i t , i s the world of women which Mrs, Jordan rej'ects because she sees i n i t nothing but the domestic and the mundane. But i t i s here that the great events of l i f e take place: b i r t h and death, love and hate, growth and decay. Here, Del's aunts are tough, carefree and strong. But i n the Jordan house, they become "sulky, s l y , elderly, eager to take offense" (p, 30), To them, Mrs, Jordan i s both absurd and threatening; Del's greater insight into both worlds w i l l give her the strength to l i v e i n both. A l i c e Munro, Lives of G i r l s and Women (New York: Signet Books, 1974), p, 54, Subsequent references are to t h i s edition, with page numbers i n parenthesis. - 7 4 -The gaiety and commotion of the female world contrast/ with the deceptive calm of the other. Del's father, a man of perception and humour, l i v e s at the end of Flats road with his son, Owen, and the hired man i n "masculine self-centredness" and squalor. The danger of the unknown surfaces as Del dreams of her father's meat house: Once I dreamed that I went down to my father's meat house, a screened shed beyond the barn where i n summer he kept parts of skinned and butchered horses hanging on hooks. The shed was i n the shade of a crab-apple tree; the screens would be black with f l i e s . I dreamed that I looked inside and found, not unexpectedly, that what he r e a l l y had hanging there were skinned and dismembered human bodies. (p. 95) And again: I dreamed my father had set up an ordinary, humble, block of wood on the grass outside the kitchen door and was l i n i n g us up—Owen and my mother and me—bo cutt o f f our heads. I t won't hurt, he t o l d us.... ( i b i d . ) The worlds of the mother and the father age separate; that of the motherris loving and f u l l of stimulation for growth, but the world of the father, of the male, i s ultimately dangerous. With-i n the depths of the unconscious, even the amiable Mr. Jordan i s transformed into a death figure, personifying Del's fear of the masculine hatred of women (p. 98)• In spite of these fears, puberty brings a longing for the mingling of the two worlds, and, for Del, a consequent loss of - 7 5 -power. Untouched p s y c h i c a l l y by a childhood sexual experience, she i s now a victim of adolescence; "I would think with nostalgia of how bold I had been, for instance, with Mr. Chamberlain" (p. 1 5 5 ) » As she experiments sensually, her strength returns and she sees sex as a surrender "...not the woman's to the man, but the person's to the body, an act of pure f a i t h . . . " (p. l 8 l ) . As wild roses brush the cab of the truck, Del drives with Garnet French to Jericho Valley, where hi s house i s down i n a hollow. On t h e i r return, they make love, and the sensual trance t h i s induces i n Del causes her f a i l u r e at the examinations which would have taken her to the world outside Jubilee, the world where her mother had longed to be. But Del i s shamming compliance, and her power reasserts i t s e l f i n the struggle with Garnet when he t r i e s to baptise her. In for c i n g her beneath the water, he i s t r y i n g to bring her into his world i n which she can face only i n t e l l e c t u a l and psychic stagnation. Del r e a l i s e s that she has deceived him: I f e l t amazement, not that I was f i g h t i n g with Garnet but that anybody could have made such a mistake, to think he had re a l power over me. . . . i t seemed to me impossible that he should not understand that a l l the powers I had grant-ed him were i n play, that he himself was—in play, that I had meant to keep him sewed up i n his golden lover's skin forever, even i f f i v e min-utes before I had talked about marrying him. (pp. 1 9 7 - 9 8 ) - 76 -Leaving Garnet, she walks through the cemetery back to Jubilee; "As I walked on into Jubilee I repossessed the world" (p . . 7 199)» In turning her back on the l i f e her lover o f f e r s , a l i f e "that required you to be buried a l i v e " (p. 198 ) , Del.is asserting her b i r t h r i g h t , the right to give b i r t h and l i f e to h e r s e l f . Her strength l i e s i n her a b i l i t y to reconcile the physical and i n t e l l -ectual sides of her personality, and i n her unabashed joy i n her own sexuality. I t i s t h i s joy that has been unknown to Lou, i n Marian Engel 1s Bear. An a r c h i v i s t , she l i v e s " l i k e a mole, buried deep i n her 3-o f f i c e . . . . " There are occasional mechanical sexual encounters with the Director of the Archive, which contain no p o s s i b i l i t y for joy. When the I n s t i t u t e for which she works i n h e r i t s the estate of Colonel Cary of Pennarth, Lou i s sent to an i s l a n d i n the north, to research and c l a s s i f y . There i s a bear, she i s t o l d on her a r r i v a l , a bear who w i l l soon awaken, and for whom she must care during the summer. In her joy at the discoveries on the island, she feels no fear of the animal. And indeed, i f Lou i s , as she wonders, a Platonist, then the bear i s a kind of demi-urge, a l i n k between the r e a l and the mythic worlds. In her research, Lou finds that Colonel Cary had (Toronto: Seal Books, 1977), p. 1. 3 Marian Engel, Bear - 77 -been a woman with a bear; that she, Lou, i s taking part i n a continuing ceremony. With hardly a hint of anthropomorphism^ Engel makes the reader a witness to the r i t u a l , as Lou enters into a r e l a t i o n -ship which brings her into touch with her deepest sexuality. As the bear-headed goddess brought riches and f e r t i l i t y to Arcady, so the creature i n the bear mask brings Lou back to l i f e i n Pennarth, the place of the bear's head. There i s nothing b e s t i a l i n the pleasure they take i n each other but Lou must learn that her animal nature can be taken only so far; when she attempts intercourse with the bear, he threatens her. The blood which flows from her wound, l i k e menstrual blood, symbolises the end of a cycle, a cycle which has ended, as i t must, i n s t e r i l i t y . Her acceptance of her own po t e n t i a l for l i f e ends the adventure. As winter approaches, she must return to the Director and her subterranean o f f i c e , but with the promise of a new l i f e . From her contact with the bear, she has learned "what the world was f o r , " Both Munro and Engel emphasize those aspects of the myth which resu l t i n joy and integration for the i n d i v i d u a l , but there i s a being involved here with whom the male can i d e n t i f y . While out-side the cycle, he i s a part of i t because his intervention, how-ever unwelcome, i s the cataly_st which sets i t into motion. The King of the Dead seeks to take possession of the promise of l i f e which the Kore represents; within the framework of the myth, his - 78- •« sexual access to her i s the most powerful means at his disposal to control t h i s promise of l i f e . I t i s from t h i s d i f f e r e n t perspective that the male n o v e l i s t approaches the myth. In Howard O'Hagan's Tay John, the central character i s unmistakably the hero as death f i g u r e . Tay John arises from the grave at b i r t h with a mythic power. During his l i f e , as Harvey Fergusson writes, he finds that "the heart of c i v i l i s a t i o n i s woman, and that woman i s at the heart of his 4 ordeal." His relationship with Ardith Aeriola ends i n t h e i r , f l i g h t together; her name, with i t s suggestion of l i g h t , a i r , and ardour, implies that he i s appropriating these q u a l i t i e s to himself. Tay John disappears into the ground, with Ardith's dead body behind him on a sled; he has returned with his captive and her unborn c h i l d to his mythic kingdom, perhaps to begin the cycle again. In contrast, Hazard Lepage, i n Robert Kroetsch's The Stud-horse Man, appears to be seeking l i f e , but he too i s absorbed i n the deathly aspects of the myth. Ostensibly i n search of a mare for his s t a l l i o n , Poseidon, he i s ac t u a l l y seeking to embrace death i n the shape of the mother, l a mere. In a symbolic sense, Harvey Fergusson, Introduction to Tay John by Howard O'Hagan (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1974)., n. pag. % 79 -i f mother and daughter are one, Hades (or Pluto), i n embracing the daughter, w i l l f i n d that the mother too i s i n his arms. With her enormous power, she w i l l r e s i s t him successfuly, and i n her triumph w i l l be the death of his desire to take unto himself a l l l i f e . 1 In the manner of a f e r t i l i t y r i t u a l , the novel represents the sustained challenge of Hazard, the archetypal male, to the female p r i n c i p l e . In spite of Kroetsch's apparently p l a y f u l treatment of the myth (a young male character i s named Demeter)~* and his amusing s t y l e , t h i s i s a sombre account of a search f o r death through sexual adventure. In another of Kroetsch's novels, Badlands, two women undertake a journey i n search of William Dawe, a man with a "magical hump." This i s of course not only a reference to the actual hump on his back, but also to his sexual power. The two women are his daughter, Anna, and another woman, also named Anna, an Indian with whom Dawe wandered through the "badlands" more than f i f t y years before. At f i f t e e n , Anna Yellowbird had seen Dawe as the guide, "the hunchbacked man...who could f i n d the way to the 6 place of the dead." At the end of t h e i r journey through the place ^Robert Kroetsch, The Studhorse Man (Don M i l l s , Ont.: Paper-jacks, 1 9 7 7 ) . 6 Robert Kroetsch, Badlands (Don M i l l s , Ont.: Paperjacks, 1 9 7 5 ) , p. 1 4 8 . Subsequent references are to t h i s edition, with page num-bers i n parenthesis. - 80:-of bones, the women are joined i n a re-affirmation of l i f e : Anna looked at the stars and then at me, and she did not mention dinosaurs or men or t h e i r d i s c i p l i n e or t h e i r courage or t h e i r goddamned honour or t h e i r goddamned fucking fame or t h e i r goddamned fucking death-fucking death. (p. 270) This i s a powerful indictment of a l l that has been considered an indispensible part of the male ethos; the masculine stereo-type i s d i r e c t l y equated with death. At the end of the journey, Anna Dawe destroys the reminders of her father's work as the two women leave the place of death: We walked out of there hand i n hand, arm i n arm, holding each other. We walked a l l the way out. And we did not look back, not once, ever. (p. 270) The aging, and the aged woman, together with the youthful s e l f of Anna Yellowbird, encountered on the j'ourney, turn t h e i r backs on a l l things pertaining to the male. Two aspects of the same character, they destroy the death figure (Dawe and his magical hump.), aaridffimoveoonii'nttheccyGl'e, iinccompleterrejection of the male p r i n c i p l e . The t r a n s i t i o n from r e j e c t o r of the male to his destroyer i s almost imperceptible i n Sharon R i i s ' powerful l i t t l e book, The True Story of Ida Johnson, but follows the mythic theme. Apparently a waitress i n an Alberta cafe, almost a stereotype of •« 8 l -disadvantaged womanhood, Ida i s Nemesis i n disguise.^ Pregnant and married at fourteen, at eighteen, Ida k i l l s her husband and children, a t e r r i b l e yet not unexpected solu t i o n to her entrapment. The reader l i s t e n s , with Luke the androgynous Indian boy, to the remorseless t e l l i n g of Ida's l i f e story, and agrees that, yes, t h i s was inevi t a b l e and as i t should have been. As Ida t e l l s her story, the emotional undercurrents between her s e l f and Luke are explained; he i s Lucy, her childhood fr i e n d , and the two women are parts of a double character. Lucy, i n her wanderings, has seen hers e l f as a Jew; "We are a l l Jews. I am a Jew." But i t i s the male Luke who i s the Jew, the dispossessed. When Lucy reassumes her true i d e n t i t y , she i s taken up into Ida's strength, she "comes home." As Ida takes Lucy to her s u n l i t yellow room, she assumes the mythic proportions of the goddess, above joy, above sorrow, even above death. There i s a suggestion that the wrathful Ida w i l l destroy any male with whom she connects, as Lucy says of the room: 7 In the c y c l i c a l epic, Cypria, the abducted Kore i s c a l l e d Nemesis. For a discussion of t h i s , see p a r t i c u l a r l y Jung, p. 1 2 2 . g Sharon R i i s , The True Story of Ida Johnson (Toronto: Women's Press, 1 9 7 6 ) , p. 9 0 . Subsequent references are to t h i s edition, with page numbers i n parenthesis. - 82 -Its very perfection provides the F i n a l Solution, None but the holy could l i v e i n a room l i k e t h i s ; none but the whole. The t e r r i b l e strength of i t would eat them a l i v e , (p, 1 0 7 ) Here, i t i s the younger, f r a i l e r Lucy who has been seeking the mother, but t h i s mother i s the death-dealing, reverse image of the goddess of fecundity, Eoweffull and implacable, she contains a l l within h e r s e l f . Those who search for l i f e , or those who search for death, can f i n d what they seek i n her, as she i s the giver of l i f e and the Queen of the Dead at one and the same time. This i s of course the true meaning of the myth; the venge-f u l Ida i s the other side of Ethel Wilson's Maggie, who would envelop the world i n motherly arms. These two extremes encompass the v a r i e t y of a myth capable of many inte r p r e t a t i o n s . The joy and serenity of Hagar's end balance the anger of Joan Foster's mother at her daughter's escape. Anger surfaces often i n these works i n various guises but i s b a s i c a l l y a reaction against p a t r i a r c h a l s o c i a l pressures. In fact, those who struggle to be reunited with the mother may be reaching for a joy only possible i n a matriarchal s i t u a t i o n . In the f u l f i l l m e n t of a true r e l a t i o n s h i p with the mother, a relationship with the maturing s e l f , we can see the figures of the mythic mother and daughter, from whose reunion springs psychic t r a n q u i l l i t y and growth, A l i c e Munro writes of her mother i n "The Ottawa Va l l e y : - 8 3 -i t i s to reach her that t h i s whole journey has been undertaken.; With what purpose? To mark her o f f , to describe, to illumine, to celebrate, to get r i d of her; and i t did,not work, for she looms too close, just as she always did. She i s heavy as always, she weighs everything down, and yet s'he i s i n d i s t i n c t , her edges melt and flow. Which means she has stuck to me as close as ever and refused to f a l l away, and I could go on and on, applying what s k i l l s I have, using wha^ t r i c k s I know, and i t would always be the same. A l l the components of the myth are here, the longing for union with the mother, the longing to escape from her, and.the r e a l -i s a t i o n that she i s inescapable. The s a c r i f i c i a l r i t e s to Deme-te r have disappeared, but t h e i r s i g n i f i c a n c e remains, turned i n -ward i n the female psyche. The Maiden must be abducted and the Mother must grieve; t h e i r reunion i s the source p-f woman's strength. In t h i s r e b i r t h , as the green corn springs from the golden grain, Mother and Daughter are contained within each other, as they are i n a l l women. A l i c e Munro, Something I've Been Meaning to T e l l You (Scarborough, Ont.: Signet, 1975), p. 197» - 84 -BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary Sources: Atwood, Margaret. Double Persephone. Toronto: Hawkshead Press, 196l. • The Edible Woman. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1969. . Lady Oracle. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1976. • Power P o l i t i c s . Toronto: Anansi, 1971. • Procedures for Underground. Toronto: Oxford Univ. Press, 1970. • Surfacing. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1972. Engel, Marian. Bear. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1976. Kroetsch, Robert. Badlands. Don M i l l s , Ont.: Paperjacks, 1975. . The Studhorse Man. Don M i l l s , Ont.: Paperjacks, 1977* Laurence, Margaret. A Bird i n the House. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1974. • The Diviners. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1974* • A Jest of God. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1966. • The Stone Angel. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1968 A l i c e Munro. Lives of G i r l s and Women. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971. • Something I've Been Meaning to T e l l You. Scarborough, Ont.: Signet Books, 1974. O'Hagan, Howard. Tay John. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1974. Ostenso, Martha.. Wild Geese. 1925: rpt. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1961. Wilson, Ethel. The Innocent T r a v e l l e r . Toronto: Macmillan, 1949. • Swamp Angel. Toronto: Macmillan, 1954. - 8.5 -Secondary Sources: Atwood, Margaret. "Paradoxes and Dilemma: The Woman as Writer." Women i n the Canadian Mosaic. Ed. Gwen Matheson. Toronto: Peter Martin, 1 9 7 6 . . " P o l a r i t i e s . " Tamarack Review, 58 (Winter 1 9 7 1 ) , 3 - 2 5 . • _. Survi v a l : A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature. Toronto: Anansi, 1 9 7 2 . Balsevich, Mary. "The Eden Myth i n Canadian Li t e r a t u r e . " M.A. Thesis, Univ. of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1 9 6 9 . Bardwick, Judith. The Psychology of Woman: A Bi o - c u l t u r a l C o n f l i c t . New York: Harper & Row, 1971 • Chesler, P h y l l i s . Women and Madness. New York: Avon Books, 1 9 7 2 . C i r l o t , J.E. A Dictionary of Sumbols. New York: Philosophical L i -brary, 1 9 6 2 . Dahlie, Hallvard. "Unconsummated Relationships." World Literature  Written i n English, 11 (Summer 1 9 7 2 ) , 4 3 - 4 8 . Davey, Frank. "Atwood Walking Backwards." Open Letter, 5 (Summer 1 9 7 3 ) , 7 4 - 8 4 , . "Atwood's Gorgon Touch." Studies i n Canadian Literature, 2, No. 2 (Summer 1 9 7 7 ) , 1 4 6 - 6 3 . . From There to Here. Erin, Ont.: Press Porcepic, 1 9 7 4 . Davies, Rbbertson. Review of The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence, i n New York Times Book Review, 14 June 1 9 6 4 , p. 4 . Eliade, Mircea. Images and Symbols. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1969* . Myth and Reality. London: A l l e n and Unwin, 1 9 5 6 . Frazer, S i r James. The New Golden Bough. Ed. Theodore Gaster. New York: C r i t e r i o n Books, 1 9 5 9 . - 86 -Secondary Sources, cont.: ' Foster, John Wilson. "The Poetry of Margaret Atwood." Canadian  Literature, 74 (Autumn 1 9 7 7 ) , 5 - 1 9 . Gibson, Graeme. Eleven Canadian Novelists. Toronto: Anansi, 1 9 7 3 . Glendinning, V i c t o r i a . "Enter, Pursued by a Bear." Review of Bear, by Marian Engel, i n The Observer Review, 3 A p r i l 1977, p. 26. Gottlieb, Lois and Wendy Keitner. "Demeter1 s Daughters: The Mother-Daughter Motif i n F i c t i o n by Canadian Women." A t l a n t i s , 3 ( F a l l 1 9 7 7 ) , 1 3 0 - 4 4 . ' " Grace, S h e r r i l l . "Crossing Jordan: Time and Memory i n the F i c t i o n of Margaret Laurence." World Literature Written i n English, 16 (Winter 1 9 7 7 ) , 3 2 8 - 3 9 . Graves, Robert. The White Goddess. New York: Octagon Books, 1 9 7 2 . H a l l , Nor. Mothers and Daughters. Minneapolis: Russoff Books, 1 9 7 6 . Jones, Alexander Henry. "Martha Ostenso's Novels." M.A. Thesis, Univ. of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1 9 7 0 . Jones, D.G. "Myth, Frye, and Canadian Writers." Canadian Literature, 55 (Winter 7 3 ) , 7 - 2 2 . Jung, C.G. and Karl Kerenyi. Essays on a Science of Mythology. New Jersey: Princeton Univ. Press, 1 9 6 9 . Kerenyi, K a r l . E l e u s i s : Archetypal Images of Mothers and Daughters. New York: Pantheon Books, 1 9 6 7 . Kertzer, John M. "The Stone Angel: Time and Responsibility." Dalhousie  Review, 54 (Spring 1974), 499-509. Klinck, Carl F., ed. Li t e r a r y History of Canada. Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1 9 6 5 . - 87 -Secondary Sources, cont.: McCullough, Elizabeth. The Role of Women i n Canadian Li t e r a t u r e . Toronto: Macmillan, 1975* Mandel, E l i , ed. Contexts of Canadian C r i t i c i s m . Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1971o . Review of Double Persephone, by Margaret Atwood, i n Alphabet, 4 (June 1 9 6 2 ) , 6 9 - 7 0 . Manheim, Ralph. Myth, Religion and Mother Right: Selected Writings  of J . J. Bachofen. Princeton: Bollingen Series LXXXIV, 1 9 6 7 . Metcalf, John. "A Conversation with A l i c e Munro." Journal of Canadian F i c t i o n , 1, No. 4 ( 1 9 7 3 ) , 5 4 - 6 2 . Middleton, John M., ed. Readings i n Mythology and Symbolism. New York: Natural History Press, 1 9 6 7 . Neumann, Erich., The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype. New Jersey: Princeton Univ. Press, 1 9 7 2 . New, W.H. A r t i c u l a t i n g West. Toronto: New Press, 1 9 7 2 . , ed. Margaret Laurence: The Writer and Her C r i t i c s . Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1 9 7 7 . Onley, G l o r i a . "Power P o l i t i c s i n Bluebeard's Castle." Canadian  Literature, 60 (Spring 1 9 7 4 ) , 2 1 - 4 2 . Pacey, Desmond. Creative Writing i n Canada. Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1 9 5 2 . Rheingold, Joseph. The Mother, Anxiety and Death. Boston: L i t t l e Brown, 1 9 6 7 . Rich, Adrienne. Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and  I n s t i t u t i o n . New York: Norton, 1 9 7 6 . Rogers, Linda Jane. "Environment and the Quest. Motif i n Selected Works of Canadian P r a i r i e F i c t i o n . " M.A. Thesis, Univ. of B r i t i s h . Columbia, 1 9 7 0 . - 88 -Secondary Sources, cont..: Smith, A.J.M., ed. Masks of F i c t i o n : Canadian C r i t i c s , o n Canadian Prose. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1 9 6 l . Steiner, George. In Bluebeard's Castle: Some Notes Toward the Redefinition of Culture. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1971* Stephens, Donald, ed. Writers of the P r a i r i e s . Vancouver: Univ. of B r i t i s h Columbia Press, 1 9 7 3 . Stevenson, Warren."The Myth of Demeter and Persephone i n A Jest of  God.?'Studies i n Canadian Literature, 1, No. 2 (Winter 1976), 120-23. Thomas, Clara. Our Nature, Our Voices. Toronto: New Press, 1 9 7 2 . . The Manawaka World of Margaret Laurence. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1 9 7 5 . Ulrych, Miriam. "Attitudes Toward Love and Sex-in the English Canadian Novel." M.A. Thesis, Univ. of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1 9 7 2 . van Varseveld, G a i l . "Talking with Atwood." Room of One's Own. 1, No. 2 (Summer 1975), 6 6 - 7 0 . Wainright, Andy. "Beyond Women's Lib. " Saturday Night, 85 (October 1 9 7 0 ) , 3 4 - 3 5 . Wilder, Alexander. The Symbolic Language of Ancient A r t . New York: J.W. Bouton, 1 8 7 9 . Woodcock, George. "Margaret Atwood." The Lit e r a r y Half-Yearly, 1 2 , No. 2 (July 1971), 233-42. Zuntz, Gunther. Persephone: 3' Essays on.Religious Thought i n Magna  Graecia. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1 9 7 1 . 

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