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Splinky Doodle

on 2 December 2013

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Transcript of Hangman

Introduction and Historical Context
Marrying the Hangman
18th century Quebec
Jean Cololere and Francois Laurent

Half-Hanged Mary
Mary Reeve Webster accused by neighbor Mary Bliss Parsons of witchcraft
Examined by county court magistrates for "familiarity with the devil"
Atwood's ancestor
1. The hangman feels the temptation to be accepted

“It was his only chance to be a hero, to one person at least”

-metaphor, diction
“Perhaps he wanted to live with a woman whose life he had saved, who had seen down into the earth but had nevertheless followed him back up to life.”

2. Mary has the temptation to give up and receive an unjust punishment

“A temptation, to sink down/ into these definitions./ To become a martyr in reverse…To give up knowing./ To give up pain. To let go.

3. Temptation was the initial cause for condemnation to hanging
-declarative sentence, repetition
“She was condemned to death for stealing clothes from her employer, from the wife of her employer. She wished to make herself more beautiful. This desire in servants was not legal.”
-negative perception of women

-similarities in situations of both sides of capital punishment

-historical insight
1. Narrator in "Half-Hanged Mary" creates imagery of her own body as an object on the gallows
“Is it my choice that I’m dangling/like a turkey’s wattles”

-rhetorical question and allusion
“Does my twisting body spell out/Grace?”
Rejection by Society
1. The hangman acknowledges the consequence of agreeing to accept the job.
"“exchange it for the impersonal/ mask of death, of official death which has eyes but/ no mouth, this mask of a dark leper” (Line 19)

-declarative statement
“for if he became the hangman the others would despise him”

2. Mary in "Half-Hanged Mary" bitterly addresses her community's refusal to be associated with her

“The bonnets came to stare,/ the dark skirts also”

-simile, negative connotations, analogy, internal rhyme, alliteration
“Help me down? You don’t dare./ I might rub off on you, like soot or gossip. Birds/of a feather burn together, though as a rule ravens are singular.” (Line 45)

The Human Body as an Object
1. Woman in "Marrying the Hangman" offers her body as a bribe
"She said: nipple, arms, lips, wine belly, hair, bread, thighs, eyes, eyes."

2. Hangman seeks a servant as a wife
"“…though he does not wipe up what he accidentally spills. He wants only the simple things: a chair, someone to pull off his shoes, someone to watch him while he talks, with admiration and fear, gratitude if possible, someone in whom to plunge himself for rest and renewal.”
Works Cited
"Margaret Atwood Quotes." Margaret Atwood Quotes. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2013.
"Margaret Atwood Quotes." Margaret Atwood Quotes. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2013.
Marshall, Bridget M. "Mary (Reeve) Webster." Mary (Reeve) Webster. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2013.
Miesle, Jeannine. "Ravens." AvianWeb. Sibylle F. Johnson, n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2013.
Atwood, Margaret. “Half-Hanged Mary.” Morning in the Burned House.
Full transcript