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Novels of Chocolet by Joanne Harris Essay

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Updated: Jan 5th, 2022


Eating is the process which enables every living being to live and act. Those organisms that don’t get enough food are getting sick and die sooner or later. The food is the most essential part for supporting physical existence of humans too. Reluctantly, food and eating process is one of the most debatable and important questions of the human culture. The people relation to food was constantly changing from a simple means stave off hunger to an object of worship. This work is dedicated to the analysis of specific characters’ respond to personal circumstance through their attitudes toward food and eating in the novels Chocolat by Joanne Harris and The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood. The work is concerned with the depicting of the importance of the food for self-affirmation in Chocolat and the self-cognition in Edible Woman.

The characterization of novels’ protagonists through their attitude to food

The protagonist of Chocolat is Vianne Rocher. This woman is a single mother with a daughter. She intends to open a chocolate boutique just in front of the church. Francis Reynaud is the young priest of the church. He strongly opposes the newcomer’s intention. The village is keeping Easter fast and chocolate is one of the restricted products as it contains a lot of fats. Thus, the main contraposition of the novel starts from the debates about food. Furthermore, the small town is getting separated on two groups: the confectionary opposers and supporters. The priest is trying to have Vianne run out of city, putting her into disgrace in front of the villagers, while the confectioner is planning to organize great chocolate fest on the Easter Sunday. The theme of the devil’s temptation is greatly reinforces by this episode depicting the priest as a pure religion and confectioner and chocolate as a sin. “As mouths water in anticipation, can solemnity of the Church compare with the pagan passion of a chocolate eclair?” (Harris, 56). The inner conflict of the town becomes more than just religion and sin. It is going to be the opposition between an exorcism of the past and present day independence; the religion dogma and humanistic understanding; pleasure and self-denial.

The Edible Woman presents another type of woman but it is equally strong mentally and independent. The protagonist Marian McAlpin is working in a market research firm.

Marian’s life contains three steps of her personal development which is connected with the food and eating. The first part of the story starts from the depicting of protagonist’s life from the first person. The theme of food consuming takes its manifestation from the very beginning of the story too: “I had to skip the egg and wash down a glass of milk and a bowl of cold cereal which I knew would leave me hungry long before lunch time.” (Atwood, 45). The reader should pay a special attention on the Marian’s appetite and the products she eats. They are the symbols of the further dramatic change of her life. Another quote of the main hero: “Wedding cakes with sugar brides and grooms were at that time of particular interest to me.“( Atwood, 112) manifests the idea of the similarity between marriage and self-consuming.

In the second part, the narrator position is presented from the third person. Marian feels into affair with Peter, who takes a lot of her attention and turns her from the consumer to the consumed object. Apart from this, Marian starts to look upon herself at a distance. Therefore, the narration from the first person changes to that of the third. The same can be said about her appetite, she starts to limit herself in food more and more. Finally she feels herself starving.

After break up with her lover, Marian starts come back to herself and her appetite returns as well. But her gastronomic tastes differ and she decides to make a cake in a form of the woman and eat it. Thus, the poem manifests one more theme which is cannibalism and consuming of each other by men and women. Then, the author depicts that the male part of the humanity make use of their predominant position but never realize it as Peter refuse to eat the cake substitute of his bride.

In the novel Marian always associate herself with the different kind of products. “ (Atwood, 255)As we stared at each other in that brief light I could see myself, small and oval, mirrored in his eyes.”This small and oval shape resemble to the egg, the first thing that Marian ate and depicted in the first part. Now she associates herself with the egg which will be consumed.


Both of the novels depict the emancipation of women in the modern world. Besides, both poems stress out the feministic theme as the antagonists of both female characters in the novels. Women are taking their advantage of men passing their own way of self-knowledge and self-affirmation.

Works Cited

Atwood, Margaret. The Edible Woman. New York: McClelland & Stewart, 1999.

Harris, Joanne. Chocolat. New York: Doubleday, 1999

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