Legitimizing the Lie? ‘Castrating’ Fiction in Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Irving’s Rip Van Winkle

Moffat Moyo


This study is concerned with fiction as an imaginary product therefore a lie. The work runs through the question of what a lie is, and how unavoidable it is. Using Plato’s theory of imitation, the work goes on to suggest that fiction is a lie. While not completely agreeing with Plato that imitation is dangerous, the work explores how Margaret Atwood in The Handmaid’s Tale and Washington Irving in Rip Van Winkle have blurred the line between fact and fiction through attributing to their work as actual historical events. They have equally subliminally inserted messages in their work to force the reader to believe everything he reads as fact and not fiction. This paper questions why the writers have used this approach and suggests rhetorically that this could be because of Plato’s suggestion that imitative work which is imaginary is divorced from the truth hence dangerous.


Fiction, Truth, Lie, Verisimilitude.

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