The Three-Dimensional Characters of The Robber Bride
The characters in The Robber Bride are ones of psychological validity because they are tangible and allow the reader to deeply explore and dive headfirst into their lives of hardship, suffering, and remorse.
Atwood's four principle characters in The Robber Bride have been criticized as mere "types" by some critics: Tony as the intellectual, Charis the fuzzy-headed New Age mystic, Roz the lusty and flamboyant entrepreneur, and Zenia "la belle dame sans merci." Yet in the case of the novel's protagonists, type gives way to full-throated characterization as Atwood provides extensive histories of each that not only delineate the themes of childhood victimization and feminine self-doubt that weave separate lines of the narrative together but expose the physic "other" that each develops as a survival strategy (a doubleness that their protean antagonist Zenia repeatedly exploits through her various metamorphoses to further her own agenda) (Bronson 6-10).
It is the historian Antonia Fermont whose point of view opens and closes the novel. A scholar specializing in military massacres, Tony has encountered considerable skepticism from both sides of the gender divide, with men hostile towards her foray into a
male sphere (both of activity and intellectuality), and women suspicious of her interest in so "unwomanly" and brutal a subject. Her interest in the discipline derives in part from her earlier eagerness to probe the mystery of her own origins as a child of the Second World War; she seeks narratives that will help her rationalize the catastrophes of her childhood; recognizing the essentially fictive nature of all narrative, she also understands the psychological comforts of such explanations. Emotionally motherless from birth, Tony learned to regard Anthea warily and to buttress her own vulnerability by creating an alter ego named through a game of word...