GCSE: Margaret Atwood essays

Meet the team of inpirational teachers who mark our essays

find out about the team

Join Marked by Teachers to get help from over 80 teachers and 180,000 essays

88 GCSE Margaret Atwood essays

  • Marked by Teachers essays 1
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  1. Marked by a teacher

    Discuss the impact of a poem of your choice in which the poet communicates their concerns about a deeper issue in life::'Holiday' by Margaret Atwood

    5 star(s)

    The next stanza makes the impact of this primordial scene clearer. She says ''this could be where we end up'' and says that we could end up like our ancient ancestors. The rest of the stanza creates a very austere and depressing image of how humankind may end up- Without trees or rain, without shelter or animals for food. She says that language, will only consist of 2 words ''hunger' and 'none' as humans will be struggling to live and their will be no food left for us.

    • Length: 911 words
  2. HM Essay

    However, the one thing that Gilead cannot possibly control is the power of thought and memories of the past. Offred uses her memories of her pas life to "[...] save [her sanity] so [she] will have enough when the [regime is destroyed]" (Atwood 135). She uses much of her free time to think of many things in her past since it comforts her. Among these things, she spends a great deal of time thinking of Moira because "it makes [her] feel safer that Moira is [there]" with her (Atwood 88). In the past, Offred would call Moira regularly for comfort in times of hardship, such as the loss of her job at the library.

    • Length: 1040 words
  3. The Handmaid tale essay

    This issue runs in all aspects of different societies and isn't going anywhere because this stereotype is deeply embedded in the psyche of our society. These stereotypes are present in the media and this means that these gender roles are considered part of entertainment; they are accepted by everyone in our society as being "proper" even if they create inequality and discrimination in our lives. Through the use of tropology the reader sees the similarities in pre-Gilead and in Gilead females were the target of oppression and they had to sacrifices their rights so men don't commit immoral acts such as gang rape on the females.

    • Length: 1927 words
  4. How atwood creates paralysis over the audience

    However this spontaneous narration and somewhat incoherent sequence of recitation also evokes the detached emotional response of Offred. She is void of all feeling and passion which is seen through the indifferent descriptions of her surroundings "On the wall above the chair, a picture, framed but with no glass: a print of flowers, blue irises, watercolour" p17. The small apathetic commentaries from Offred give greater insight into her character but at the same time separate her circumstances from her emotions, paralysing the liveliness she once possessed. The novel, to an extent, is written from two perspectives; a typical characteristic of dystopic literature - dual narration.

    • Length: 1147 words
  5. Handmaid's Tale Epigraphs

    - Jonathan Swift, "A Modest Proposal" * Satiric essay produced in 1729, Swift's satire of how to solve hunger problems in Ireland * Proposes that the raising of children for sale as a food and commodity item = alleviate povery of family * Controlled, sincere tone of unnamed proposer of this scheme parallels earnest fanaticism of Gilead * Biblical event forms justification for 20th century Gilead's Handmaid system --> women who fail to conceive are devalued * Highlights hard-heartedness of the English --> allowed Irish masses to starve by proposing them to eat children * In the desert there is no sign that says, Thou shalt not eat stones.

    • Length: 979 words
  6. 19th Century short stories - womens rights

    She is not allowed to be herself so she confides in "dead paper". This allows the reader to see who she is - a strong-minded and independent woman, shown by the repetition of "personally". Physically the narrator is trapped by the room which she is staying in, "for the windows are barred". These barred windows can symbolise entrapment or a prison cell. From the beginning of the text the story is very personal as it is written in the first person. The narrator is very interesting as she writes using many one sentence paragraphs, making the story seem very realistic, "Still I proudly declare that there is something queer about it."

    • Length: 2629 words
  7. In What Ways Does Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four, and Atwood's The Handmaids Tale explore the Theme of Oppression?

    Most characters in both novels have had their sense of personal identity stripped away from them. The societies they live in have de-humanised them, so each individual no longer holds distinctive characteristics. Offred, in The Handmaid's Tale must learn to forget who she is, thus totally erasing her past. "my name is Offred now" there is something rather disturbing about this quote as the reader is now aware that Offred, whose real name is never revealed to the reader, has lost her uniqueness (and freedom). It also shows that Offred has conformed to the Gileadean regime as she has now accepted her new name which is "composed of the possessive preposition...first name of the gentlemen in

    • Length: 3412 words
  8. What light do the Historical Notes shed upon The Handmaid's Tale?

    Atwood also utilises the last section of the text to include a formal history of Gilead, which contrasts sharply Offred's personal history. Pieixoto's discourse often mocks the Handmaid's poor reporting, whereas Offred tells the same story in more personal terms. Therefore, the novel's epilogue supplements the main text; it is not inconsistent with it. Margaret Atwood suddenly changes the focus of her writing at the end of the novel. The climax built up in section fifteen turns abruptly into the parody of a scholarly symposium.

    • Length: 785 words
  9. Discuss the society of Gilead in the sections have read so far The society is based upon different classes, in some form of hierarchy. The society is very patriarchal, yet the society

    The writer gives an image of the control the Aunts have under the girls by the "cattle prods" that they carry. This gives the reader an image that these handmaids are being controlled like livestock. From the opening paragraph it is clear that no verbal communication is allowed between the girls, or to any of the others. This would have probably been stopped as word of mouth may have incited a rebellion. It is evident that the girls have combated this restriction by learning how to lip-read, if only to mime names to one another.

    • Length: 861 words
  10. "The Handmaids Tale" By Margaret Atwood, "The importance of being Ernest" by Oscar Wilde and a speech by Margaret Thatcher at Brighton at a Conservative party conference in 1969 on a motion to increase the equality of women in society.

    The only people to have power are males, only high ranking males known as 'Commanders' but what they are commander of is never revealed but these are the only persons permitted to procreate, and if their 'Wife' is unable to produce offspring then a 'Handmaid' is allocated to the Commander as in Genesis, 30:1-3 in the bible where Rachel, the wife of Jacob is unable to reproduce so offers her handmaid to him so they may have children, this is where the Gilead society gain their ideas of handmaids for breeding, showing that it is an traditional and outdated society.

    • Length: 2592 words
  11. Discuss The Variety Of Narrative Technique In The Handmaid's Tale

    The third epigraph (Sufi proverb) claims that no one needs to forbid anything that is undeniable even when in a desperate situation, the undesirable could be the solution. The deliberate confusion of the opening chapter where Atwood had chosen to hold back large amounts of information causing the reader to become curious and wanting to read more into the story, the narrator of the story who we are unaware of at this stage is not bothering to introduce to the readers what is happening around her, it seems that the narrator is not just telling the story but merely reminding

    • Length: 1046 words
  12. Explore the issues concerning women and feminism raised in The Handmaids Tale

    Even the roles of the commanders wives have little importance they are given trivial meaningless tasks such as tending to the gardens as this is their 'domain' which they can control and care for maybe a replacement for the children, they also knit scarves for the Angels upfront however Offred claims that "Maybe its something to keep the wives busy, to give them a sense of purpose." There is also the role of the aunts which could also be seen as very important as well because it is these older women who brainwash these teachings into the handmaids to let them fulfil their duties.

    • Length: 3112 words
  13. A Comparison of "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood and "Anthem" by Ayn Rand

    An example of this is found when the main character, Equality-1329, re-invents the electric light. He shows his invention to the scientist and although this invention could improve the quality of life of the people it is deemed "evil" because he worked on his project alone. The society in this book is also strict and authoritarian to the point of dictating what your job will be, to whom you will have children with. In 'The Handmaid's Tale', the story takes place sometime in the near future after an environmental catastrophe that makes it impossible for most women to have children.

    • Length: 843 words
  14. Early in the novel Atwood presents us with the division between ladies and women

    This is achieved by the mentioning of wire crinolines that were "Like birdcages" the ladies were not allowed to touch or brush up against other men's legs. Grace is now talking about legs in sexual way (also another sign of the times) "the governor's wife never says legs" this comment shows that showing or talking legs is a taboo subject. Grace goes on to comment that the people of lower classes, she uses the news paper as an example were not so sensitive when talking about Nancy's "dead legs sticking out from under the wash tub" The reader finds out

    • Length: 811 words
  15. Offred's Narrative - What is the purpose and function of the 'Historical Notes' and how do they assist your interpretation of the novel?

    Also the name of the university sounds like the sentence 'Deny None Of it' suggesting that Offred's story was all true despite what my be said or not said in the historical notes. The purpose of the lecturer that Atwood created Professor James Darcy Pieixto is to give readers a masculine view of Offred's story which is ironic due to the domineering and powerful roles that the males played in Offred's world and how they made her and other women feel completely helpless, by choosing to tell her story it gives Offred the only power she could grasp over them that was much more than just being passive.

    • Length: 2061 words
  16. Margaret Atwood - The Handmaids Tale - Jezebel's

    If the women do not conceive, they are labelled as "barrens" and so hence are sent to the colonies from where they would eventually die. Some women in the novel (the sterile handmaids) are often classified as "unwomen" and so therefore are in Gilead's view "inhuman". Women in terms of Gilead are possessions of men and have no liberty of choice. They are not free to choose when or who to have sex with, they are banned from relationships and are not able to choose what to do in life.

    • Length: 1438 words
  17. The Handmaid's Tale Freedom To and Freedom From

    This also proves that in some sense Gilead was in danger from its security. From these facts alone it is understandable to see why Gilead chose to enforce a new regime. It may have been thought that in doing so everyone would benefit form a safer society. This much is true. In some sense, women especially, as Aunt Lydia said have been "given freedom from". Freedom from all the bad aspects from the time before. Women no longer had to be afraid for their safety, rape was no more and they were free to walk the streets without being hassled, as they were now protected by the "eyes" that watched over them.

    • Length: 621 words
  18. How does Atwood show that the Gilead regime abuses religion?

    But, illuminating these things meant that they would loose their freedom and self respect. The Aunts say things like, "You see what things used to be like? That was what they thought of women, then". They give the women no other choice into what to believe. Moira, who represents Offred's guidance and hope tells her the film is probably a fraud so Gilead's regime is trying to get the handmaid's to feel as if they are privileged to be in their position because the time before was horrific. However, Atwood shows us how unhappy women are now that Gilead stopped them from having any freedom.

    • Length: 1295 words
  19. National Identity Crisis in Margaret Atwood's "Through the One-Way Mirror

    After re-examining the essay, the meaning of the symbols and metaphors change. The most important metaphor is that which calls the Canadian people "Porky Pigs" (Atwood 81) who are being mesmerized by the Americans through this "one-way mirror"(81). A powerful image is taken from this, the Canadians are looking at the Americans, and the Americans are looking at themselves. This image implicitly shows how Canadians care more about the issues in the United States than those in their own country.

    • Length: 705 words
  20. How does the extract affect the whole story? ("The Persimmon Tree" by Marjorie Barnard)

    Barnard, in fact, associates "shadow" connotatively with two things: changing matters in the outside world and new life. Although it is not presented clearly in the story, Barnard reflects her idea through the descriptions of the narrator about the "shadow": "the movement of the branches [shadows] in the wind [seem] different." (par.12) "the bare twigs [are] beginning to swell with buds [that represent new life]." The "shadow", as described by Barnard, is itself a life, "[having] the wall on to itself."

    • Length: 1425 words
  21. The Handmaids tale by Atwood and Hard Times by Dickens - Both authors are concerned with the repression of individuality. Compare and contrast their representation of the different social and cultural forces which contribute to the repressive state.

    Dickens, in 1854 likewise attempted to offer a vision; a vision that challenged the utilitarian philosophy of the time in Industrial Britain. From the 1820's-1850's "Benthamism represented of the prominent exemplar of scientific and materialistic reasoning with respect to social and government activity"ii. Benthamism, named after the work of Jeremy Bentham sought to develop a scientific legislation to effect social progress - it has been directly linked by many critics to the instigation of social reforms in industrial Britain such as the reforms act of 1832.

    • Length: 3123 words
  22. What specific aspects of society do you think Atwood comments on in The Handmaid's Tale and how does she do this?

    In an interview with Gabriele Metzler Atwood says, "There is nothing in the book that hasn't already happened. All things described in the book people have already done to each other"(2). Throughout 'The Handmaid's Tale' Offred is constantly conscious of her life before Gilead. This is reflected in the sections of the book headed "Night". Offred often refers back to her life with her daughter and Luke, "Luke was in the living room. He put his arms around me. We were both feeling miserable. How were we to know we were happy, even then? Because we at least had that: arms, around."

    • Length: 2598 words
  23. The Handmaid's Tale

    Central in these ideals is biblical passage from Genesis 30: 1 - 3, which reads: And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her.

    • Length: 1894 words
  24. How does Atwood present the commander in the novel?

    and repression of Gilead and they both wanted to break free but on the surface when they played scrabble with each other they are calm and to a certain extent sophisticated, between the characters there is certain amount of sexual and power play. The commander tells Offred that he believes that the reason why the State of Gilead came into place was because there was 'an inability to feel' and in his words, 'we thought we could we could do better.'

    • Length: 681 words
  25. The Handmaid's Tale - short summary

    She spends a large amount of time with the commander although she is well aware of the laws within the community. Being a handmaid Offred is not allowed into the sitting room. One night she wanders down to the sitting room to try something new, she is there to be independent; she likes to be on her own. "I like this. I am doing something, on my own. The active Tense. Tensed. What I would like to steal is a knife from the kitchen, but I'm not ready for that" (Atwood 92).

    • Length: 799 words

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Discuss The Handmaids Tale as a significant dystopian novel. What affect can it have on the reader?

    "My original argument stated that The Handmaid's Tale is a good example of a dystopian novel. I have come to the conclusion that my hypothesis is correct, as The Handmaid's Tale includes all the features of a good dystopian novel. Margaret Atwood does this by telling us the story through the eyes of Offred who is experiencing the life of Gilead. She gives good descriptions of Offred's emotional status and very cleverly interprets an opposite to what Gilead wants, Moira. Offred gives vivid descriptions of what she goes through, this makes the reader feel sympathy for her. Atwood also describes things that are both familiar and unfamiliar to us. This is good as it makes the reader think a little and use some imagination to the unfamiliar aspects of the story, though some of these aspects of the story are quite shocking. It is also good that Atwood makes Offred's character progress throughout, from a weak woman who wants to avoid confrontation and just live by the rules, to a woman who is prepared to take risks for her benefit."

Marked by a teacher

This essay has been marked by one of our great teachers. You can read the full teachers notes when you download the essay.

Peer reviewed

This essay has been reviewed by one of our specialist student essay reviewing squad. Read the full review on the essay page.

Peer reviewed

This essay has been reviewed by one of our specialist student essay reviewing squad. Read the full review under the essay preview on this page.