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Life and Loves of a She-Devil (ang.)

In the beginning, God created man… wait, wait. Ymm, no I think it was differently. Nevertheless, the human being has been created by God. After the whole beautiful story about 'creation', the Almighty thought about someone, who might resemble his image. That's how the origins of the first people on Earth, according to the Bible, look like. This kind of tradition was cultivated for many years, until… boom! There have been light-hearted interpretations of God's words, especially in the motif of Eve - woman, who is serving Adam and is the source of most problems (with the original sin at first, of course). Who could even think, that women will be keen to fight for their own rights and establish a characteristic movement approved by many female creatures, today.

The feminists were gaining more and more respect throughout the centuries. It began during the period of Age of Reason, when Mary Wollstonecraft (later known as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the author of Frankenstein) released a philosophical essay called The Vindication of the Rights of Woman[i] and is being cultivated till now. You all must heard of Virginia Woolf or Fay Weldon, who is a contemporary and still-living writer, concentrating on feminist fiction. What? You don't know Fay Weldon? Well, so let me introduce by reviewing her most famous novel, [i]The Life and Loves of a She-Devil.

The book contains a story of Ruth - an ugly and extremely tall married woman. She lives with her husband Bobbo, a bank accountant, in a little house in one of the Great Britain's suburban areas with a life full of misery, despair and two school-aged children. Outside this district, there is a place called High Tower in which a famous harlequin writer, Mary Fisher, lives. She is tiny, fragile and "delicately formed" - a total opposition of the main protagonist. These features seem to be attracting Bobbo, who is sick of his wife and wants to have a romantic relationship with a beautiful female that is going to treat him well. When Ruth discovers Bobbo's disobedience, full of anger and misery, she wants to take revenge on Mary Fisher. She leaves her former life behind and hides in the shades of contemporary England to prepare a diabolic revenge master plan.

You might think that the plot sounds typical and I can assure you that it's the truth. So, why is this novel so exceptional? Firstly, the author constructs a specific Chinese Box narration with a wide variety of important characters/personalities and then mingles it between 1st and 3rd person narrative. Weldon chooses to make her main protagonist the story-teller and many times make the reader confused by suddenly changing the narrative. This specification results in a diversity of action and makes the story more interesting.

Life and Loves of a She-Devil

The Chinese Box narration has been used earlier in Shelley's Frankenstein, but this is not the only element that the writer borrows from her predecessor. The main character, Ruth, bears a striking resemblance to the Victor Frankenstein's monster. She is created in the image of a hideous, unattractive and extremely big lady, who rejects God and thinks only about taking revenge on Mary Fisher. She shares some characteristic features with the Byronic hero type - not only, is she sharing a grudge against the society, but also we find her as an outcast, hiding in the shades, changing names and personalities just to put all the elements of her ideal, demonic plan together. Sounds nice?

Indeed, it does and when the reader gets to the revealing of the plan, it gets even more interesting. The ways that Weldon shows make the whole image quite different. Ruth goes to the house of the elderly to become a nurse or gets into a relationship with a barrister while becoming his secretary. All of the actions that she makes are causing a chain reaction affecting the life of Mary Fisher and Bobbo. Nevertheless, no one finds out that it was Ruth, because her disguise was very effective and the causes quite damaging. It all comes to a predictable, but surprising ending that every single male in the world won't like (although, not so harsh and cruel as in the movie "Hostel 2").

The whole idea that the author created makes an image of an independent woman. Presents this trait as it was a disobedience against the Almighty or the cause of problems in the society. Still, it gives a positive light on the feminist philosophy. It shows that female's separation from the umbilical cord (in this case, the house-wife life) can result in an improvement of personality and establishing the real nature. Weldon approves this kind of thinking and movement, fights with stereotypes and what is more, illustrates men as weak and easily seduced "creatures", can you believe that?

First published in 1985 by Ballantine Books, can now gain success even more. Although the high feministic approach and many anti-man portraits, the book is light-hearted, not complex and might be even a nice piece of entertainment to us, males. It gives a straight and simple story with many humoristic elements(just read the rules of a house-wife) and a little bit of a dramatic fight. It can also be a warning, telling what an angry independent woman can do to a man, when she turns to the "Dark Side". Better do this than to feel it on your own skin, right?