Hubris and ‘Paradicical’ Destruction in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake

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Margaret Atwood’s dystopian, speculative novel, Oryx and Crake (2003) shows the devastating effects of the unbridled, scientific power or hubris of humans as they play god in attempting to contravene against devastation of the environment according to their own lights, whether reengineering humanity according to their own design, or taking drastic action to ensure the survival of the ecosystem, both of these in a desperate attempt to counteract the results of corporate greed which has virtually destroyed the ecosystem. Atwood presents the cataclysmic events of this novel through a double time frame. The past shows the ecological, climactic destruction of the globe effected by rapaciously capitalist multinational corporates which spreads a dark pall over Jimmy’s childhood. The present time leaves Snowman/ Jimmy almost the sole inheritor after an apocalyptic mass death has occurred. He remains trapped in a traumatic survival of these devastations, looking back to wonder at his own responsibility for this destruction, even as he remains caught within the consequences. Atwood’s imaginative presentation of the ecological destruction of the world, presented through the psychic traumas of her protagonist, shows us the possible consequences of human actions in disregard for the planet earth, which just might operate in warning us of the results of such destruction of our environment before they are actually upon us and it will be too late.


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Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake, apocalypse, hubris, destruction, ecosystem, bioengineering, multinational corporates, trauma, threat


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9/2 (2016), 85-98