The Levinasian Responsible Subject’s Breaching the Face’s Command: An Inversion of the Master-Slave Relationship in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy

Document Type : Original Article


1 Associate Professor of English Language and Literature, Department of Language and Literature, University of Kurdistan, Sanandaj, Iran

2 PhD Candidate of English Language and Literature, Department of English Language and Literature, Islamic Azad University, Tabriz Branch.



In accordance with Emmanuel Levinas’s ethics, the interconnection between the subject and its Other is equated with the master-slave relationship, which is not by any means absolute. This article aims at illustrating an oscillating state of master-and-slave relation with regard to Levinas’s ethics in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy. The Face of the Other becomes a ‘poor master’ who needs help and yet gives a serious order to the subject, one that he should obey. Subsequently, the Other deprives the subject of his/her wealth, thus overcoming its own poverty; therefore, the Other as a ‘poor master’ and the subject as a ‘wealthy subject’ constitute an ethical relationship. Founding the argument on the above-mentioned Levinasian principles, this paper approaches the altruistic intentions of Atwood’s post-apocalyptic characters, and inspects how the post-apocalyptic world of her MaddAddam trilogy is ultimately orientated towards, if not also predicting, a return to now bygone humanistic, ethical and communal society.


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