Monstrous: The Grotesque, Abject, and Monstrous in “The Husband Stitch"
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This literary analysis of Carmen Maria Machado’s “The Husband Stitch” reinterprets women who exist outside patriarchal prescripts. The bildungsroman narrative follows an unnamed woman who struggles with the slow decline of her autonomy, which includes her husband and her obstetrician mutilating her vagina with the eponymous husband stitch. The Narrator presents her unreliability and evasiveness through a metanarrative cast of voices that identifies males as evolving beings while women remain in stasis. Machado describes the Narrator’s sexuality with grotesque and abject terms, separating her from the patriarch’s preferred sexual and domestic compliances. To this end, I align the Narrator with Medusa through secondary research, marking her as an archetypal monster through her overt sexuality, pregnancy, and green ribbon. My interpretation ends in the finale as, like Medusa, the Narrator’s husband beheads her, resulting in the satirical conclusion that the perfect patriarchal woman dies as soon as she is created.