In the short story “Lusus Naturae” written by Margaret Atwood, a girl is disgraced by her family; treated as an outcast and being seen as a disease or a curse for her differences. The physical and mental challenges the narrator faces through the story, with her family disregarding her and the abuse that she endures daily for her differences. The story Lusus Naturae can be examined and summarized with Psychological and Feminism criticism.
Based on psychological criticism, the narrator is shown as a girl who struggles with sexual orientation. Throughout the story, the girl shows a tension between her physical appearance versus her true gender identity. “They say dead people can’t see their own reflections, and it was true; I could not see myself. I saw something, but that something was not myself: it looked nothing like the innocent, pretty girl I knew myself to be, at heart” (Atwood 265). Although she knows her self value, she is constantly degraded by those who she lives with, with the doctor calling her a “Lusus Naturae”, which refers to a freak of nature. The girl holds strong to her own self worth, those around her degrade her for her respectability and that of her family. “Either way, no one will marry me if they find out.” With that said, her family lock her away and completely isolates her from the outside world, which leads to the thoughts of her being dead. During this time, she begins reading romantic novels about “blighted love and defiance and the sweetness of death” (Atwood 264). With this, the girl mistakes a couple who are having sex with monsters that are just like her, and accidently bites the man in either “lust or hunger”.
Furthermore, the character also experiences the rejection from society and her family because of her diagnosis of Lusus Naturae or in common terms porphyria. Not until the end does she discover the acknowledgment she looks for and just through her passing. She exhibits her phases of acknowledgment through her dresses, which change continuously through the story. She likewise exhibits her absence of acknowledgment, and her endeavored acquiescence to that reality, through her general quirks, for example, her discourse examples and activities. In a commentary gave in the content, porphyria is characterized as:
a group of disorders that result from a buildup of natural chemicals that produce porphyrins in your body. Porphyrins are essential for the function of hemoglobin — a protein in your red blood cells that links to porphyrin, binds iron, and carries oxygen to your organs and tissues; symptoms of the disease’s more acute forms include insomnia, hallucinations, acute light sensitivity, excess body hair, reddish teeth, painful skin conditions, even dismemberment (Mayo Clinic).
As unmistakable from this portrayal, porphyria is a seriously noticeable malady, and unfortunately, it is no big surprise she experienced an absence of acknowledgment with the gross obvious indications of the illness. Her family is the first to forsake the youthful female. It was decided that I should die. That way I would not stand in the way of my sister, I would not loom over her like a fate” (Atwood 264). At the point when she 'passes on,' she is put in a white dress with white veiling. This white dress appears to symbolize her demise not her fake death in the plot rather than the “death” of her acceptance by society.
Based on feminist criticism, sexism is an evident bit of people's history and culture, even today, in spite of the different positions on the theme. From ages of customs that sustain attributes to a male and female paired comes the anomaly, and afterward the dread that originates from remaining outside of the resistance. Anybody not coordinating with the ordinary attributes of their sex is dependent upon numerous results, and females specifically are tested to accomplish more than look beautiful, and are named narrow-minded when they do. In Margaret Atwood's 'Lusus Naturae', a girl's medical mutation leads to rejection by society, and even her family. This girl isn't really a monster, but since of express connections to characteristics that don't fit inside the standards of society, the obscure and assorted variety in her life makes a disharmony between individuals' impression of her. They mark her as appalling and startling to make up for the distinctions. Be that as it may, the truth of the matter is, she's not a monster. She's just considered thusly in view of shallow characteristics.
To conclude, “Lusus Naturae” has many viewpoints based on the type of criticism used. With psychological, the character is affected physically and mentally, with rejection from society and her sexual orientation, also regarding the disorder she suffers from which results in her monster like appearance. And with feminism, a woman's beauty leads to their acceptance, but with this case, the girl is rejected because her looks resemble that of a monster and not a women. The mental and physical abuse she endures has different ways of showing oneself, yet everybody disregards this and focuses on her discreet look, the look of a monster.