A Foucauldian Response to Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

The Subaltern Can Speak in The Penelopiad


  • Banu Akcesme Erciyes University
  • Özlem Sayar Erciyes University


This paper intends to analyse how Penelope in Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad deconstructs The Odyssey with specific references to Gayatri C. Spivak’s “Can The Subaltern Speak?” from a Foucauldian perspective. Spivak has been criticized by many critics and writers because of her insistence on the impossibility of the subaltern to speak. This paper aims to display how the subaltern, unlike what Spivak has suggested, can speak, show resistance and take the initiative in the process of reconstructing their identities in The Penelopiad in the light of Foucault’s ideas on power, resistance and discourse. Although Penelope has been established as a submissive, subordinate and chaste wife, she proves to be a practical and pragmatic woman and creates her own opportunities to reject her imposed subalternity to assert herself through her voice and action. In this sense, Atwoods’s novel can be read as the deconstruction of Homer’s Oddyssey and Spivak’s theory about the impossibility for the subaltern to be heard and recognized. Foucault’s theory on the relation between power and subject is more inspiring and promising for the subaltern.


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How to Cite

Akcesme, B., & Sayar, Özlem. (2017). A Foucauldian Response to Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: The Subaltern Can Speak in The Penelopiad. Journal of Narrative and Language Studies, 5(9), 19–33. Retrieved from https://www.nalans.com/index.php/nalans/article/view/79