A Witch's Way: An ecofeminist analysis of Naomi Novik's Uprooted and Lidia Yuknavitch's The Book of Joan
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This thesis explores the question: How does the witch figure relate to and in so doing critique climate change and humanity’s response to it? It answers this by analysing the ecofeminist themes surrounding the witch figures of these two relatively recent novels: Uprooted by Naomi Novik and The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch. By building upon the works of Greta Gaard, Carolyn Merchant, Val Plumwood and other ecofeminist/ecocritical academics, a definition of ecofeminist themes is constructed; it concerns its dualist history and present, how the model of dualisms might be improved upon and the most common dualisms in ecofeminist theory. The main dualism that is explored is men+science/women+nature; where both novels represent it yet also break it down. Uprooted represents it externally, where the two main characters initially each embody one ‘end’. Agnieszka, the witch, identifies as woman and is portrayed as intuitive and closer to nature, whereas her partner and teacher identifies as man, seems disconnected from nature and adheres quite strictly to logic. However, they learn from each other and find a balance. The Book of Joan has an internal version of this dialectic, within the titular witch figure, Joan, as she is both an environmental activist and has seemingly magical abilities, yet is also passionate about science. In terms of gender and sexuality the witch figures are Other, which is the first way in which their position in society allows uniquely them to resolve the climate crises in their worlds. The second way can be found in how they break down the main ecofeminist dualism, thus softening the boundary between Self and Other. Thirdly, nature is given a voice, which allows the witch figures to act in political solidarity and in so doing build toward a better, more ecofeminist world. These ways allow Agnieszka and Joan to bridge the dualisms and find the balance needed that needed to be restored. All in all, the main critique that can be read in the novels is that a more balanced relationship between humans and nature is needed in order to collectively survive the impending climate breakdown.