• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the ways in which atmosphere and suspense are created in the following extract from “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Discuss the ways in which atmosphere and suspense are created in the following extract from "The Handmaid's Tale". Chapter 46 pages 303 -305 "I sit in my room..." to "I want it finished". "The Handmaid's Tale" is the 1986 Atwood novel, set in Gilead, (formerly known as the USA), a rule-bound society where deviation from convention is harshly punished. The extract I have chosen is from the closing chapter of the novel, where Offred is awaiting the consequences of her discovered earlier misdemeanours (such as having a non-official relationship with her "Commander"). Understandably, the character and atmosphere are tense, and suspense is in the air. Atwood's imagery in the extract is plentiful and often cosmic or weather related. She mentions "crumpled stars" in the second sentence of the passage, symbolising crumpled and crushed hopes and dreams. The reference to the solar system also shows the size of the universe and how small Offred's place in it is, just as she is a small cog in the state engine of Gilead. ...read more.

Middle

Red symbolises all of the roles of the Handmaid, from their reproductive function to their connections with prostitution. To create suspense Atwood shows the passing of time. This is most clearly demonstrated in the paragraph "Outside, the light ... didn't take long", which uses short sentences, each describing the evening as being later than the previous sentence portrayed it to be to show the speed of time passing, and also the progression of the day towards the night. This again is symbolic, because the night represents the end. Atwood describes a number of things she "could" do in the fourth paragraph of the extract. This creates a "what will happen?", and therefore suspense, as Atwood reels off a list of possibilities, without actually carrying out any of them - "Each one of them (the possibilities) seems the same size as all the others. Not one seems preferable". Offred seems resigned to her fate, especially when she says "I consider these things idly" and "(I feel) ... pervaded with indifference". In fact, this last sentence destroys some of the suspense and atmosphere of the passage by depicting Offred as prepared to tolerate her death or imprisonment, she is placid, apathetic, and simply waiting for "it", whatever "it" may be, to happen. ...read more.

Conclusion

This use of language makes it easy to imagine the narrator as a normal every day person who was catapulted into Gilead, rather than a journalistic view. Atwood successfully avoids the danger of sounding too descriptive and authoritative, not just during this passage but in the entire novel, giving the narrative a more realistic undertone and setting the book apart from most science fiction. This choice of language adds to the suspense of the passage because the feelings described are genuine, we know they are not just there for effect or drama. This effortless clear-cut and realistic dialogue runs throughout the entire novel, accentuating and validating the feelings and events described. The extract clearly has depressing and desolate undertones, with Offred's despair at its most prevailing at any point within the novel, as she is hopelessly resigned to her fate. The passage, however, avoids the trap of being dull and despondent, as would be easy to fall into at such a pessimistic point in the novel. Atwood's imagery, sentence structure and language, bring the passage to life and prevent it from being gloomy and grey, instead creating an atmosphere of suspense. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Margaret Atwood section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Margaret Atwood essays

  1. In What Ways Does Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four, and Atwood's The Handmaids Tale explore ...

    If Winston does not learn to control his expression he will most certainly be caught by the Thought Police and "vaporised". Gilead and Big Brother oppress their subjects in many different ways. Not only do they try to restrict an individual's movement and thought, they also aim to restrict the whole of society.

  2. The Handmaid's Tale - The narrator says of her tale, 'I'm sorry it's like ...

    Her story is told in a stream of conscious style, with memories and thought cutting into the relating of events. Her voice is educated and sometimes funny, but she is a fallible narrator, as her story is so isolated. The historical notes at the end accentuate this fallibility as the authenticity of her story is questioned.

  1. The Handmaid's Tale

    "...the Commander is fucking...I do not say making love because this is not what he is doing...It has nothing to do with passion or love or romance...It has nothing to do with sexual desire...The Commander...is doing his duty" - p104 - 105 The core duty of the handmaids is that

  2. What light do the Historical Notes shed upon The Handmaid's Tale?

    Pieixoto does not observe that however much Gilead is efficient in its oppression of its population, it cannot obliterate Offred's will to exist independently of mindless orthodoxy. "Gilead is within you"4, the protagonist is often told. She recognises that she does not have the liberty to retain her original name, but she does so nonetheless.

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale

    This level of takeover would require either a large atomic revolution or a biological warfare of great magnitude. Uncertainty within some third world countries could lead to attempts of these types of risks. These countries are viewed as terrorist based or unstable political governments who will spend what is required to obtain the power.

  2. 19th Century short stories - womens rights

    None of the men think about what Tanya would say about their bet on her. At the end of the story when Tanya and the soldier "emerge from the cellar", Tanya believed it meant something, "her eyes are radiant with joy and happiness" but the soldier was "just the same as ever".

  1. The Handmaid's Tale - Consider the ways in which Margaret Atwood creates interest in ...

    When she talks of the Angels in the first chapter; "If only we could talk to them. Something could be exchanged, we thought, some deal made" and later when she talks of her first meeting with the commander's wife "She then was a woman who might break the rules.

  2. Women in the Handmaid's Tale: Objectification and Value in Reproductive Qualities.

    The role of the Econowives encompasses all functions done by the Wives, Marthas, and Handmaids. Handmaids are fertile women used by the elite to produce children. They generally serve as sexual servants to the elite: "we are for breeding purposes: we aren't concubines, geisha girls, courtesans" (p.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work