Fantastic fiction as a popular literary genre has a wide audience, and has become popular especially since the 1970s as a vehicle for feminist social criticism. Fantastic fiction is often viewed as escapist literature because it deviates from the reality of the world we live in. However, the ability to write unhindered by demands for verisimilitude allows writers to criticise aspects of the “real” world of the reader by contrasting it with alternative, fantastical universes in which everything is possible.
This thesis looks at some characteristics of feminist fantastic fiction, such as an exchange of patriarchal ideas of domination with an ideal of unity, focus on the power to name or define reality, and an emphasis on human connection to the natural world as a means to create healthy individuals and societies. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, and Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time are analysed as expressions of feminist social criticism.
In the attempt to escape patriarchal domination of both women and nature, some feminists endeavour to revalue their status as women by insisting that women have a deeper connection to the natural world than men, and that this connection can be seen as a source of strength rather than a cause for denigration. These aspects of ecofeminism and feminist spirituality are visible in many feminist fantastic narratives. The aim of this thesis is to question the wisdom in presenting women as a homogonous group who, by virtue of their biology, naturally embody certain humanistic values.