It has been said that Wolf's Cassandra takes on this figure from a feminist point of view. Do you agree with this? Why or why not?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Cassandra by East German author Christa Wolf is generally considered a feminist rewriting of the events involving Priam's daughter, the prophetess Cassandra. The first reason that it is considered a feminist rewriting of the story is that it approaches the story of the Trojan War and the taking of Cassandra home by Agamemnon from the point of view of Cassandra herself, as opposed to emphasizing the male characters in the narrative.

Secondly, it views the Trojan war through the lens of 1980s feminist goddess theory, which argues that prehistoric cultures were matriarchal and had female goddesses. It rewrites the history of the Trojan War from this perspective, casting Troy as a quasi-matriarchal society gradually conquered not only by an external patriarchy (their Greek opponents) but by the necessity of engaging in war itself, which is viewed as part of a patriarchal system. War is treated as something which deprives women of power. 

The novel criticizes the Greeks as brutal for the way they see women only as objects rather than as autonomous individuals, a move which symbolically critiques the western literary tradition in so far as it derives from classical models, as implicated in the replication of patriarchy. 

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Cassandra by Christa Wolf is a fairly typical example of a sort of 1980s feminism which attempted to correct the erasure of women from many historical narratives by moving marginalized female figures to the literary center, thereby deconstructing the patriarchal narrative norms. 

The novel is based on the mythic figure of Cassandra, a daughter of Priam who appears in Homer's Iliad, other accounts of the Trojan war, and Aeschylus' Agamemnon rather peripherally. Apollo has granted her the ability to see the future accurately, but when she refused to sleep with him, added the penalty that she would never be believed. Her prophecies include the nature of the Trojan horse, the fall of Troy, and her own death.

Two main features make this a feminist novel. The first is, as described above, the retelling of the Trojan war from a female viewpoint. The second is the analysis of Trojan society as balanced between the matriarchal and the patriarchal, and the slow emergence of patriarchy because of the war, gradually causing the Trojans to resemble the purely patriarchal Greeks. This theory derives from a version of second-wave feminism sometimes known as the "goddess movement" which looked back on prehistory as a sort of prelapsarian matriarchy.

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