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GCSE: Margaret Atwood

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  1. In what ways can The Handmaids Tale be considered a feminist novel?

    Maybe it just something to keep the Wives busy, to give them a sense of purpose.. But this concept of women being extensions and property of men is one used in our own society. Though mostly out dated now Mrs Peter Watson is similar to Ofglen. But practically all terms for women are the extension of the term for men Mr/s, fe/male, wo/man. This leads to the idea that Atwood is really just exaggerating the current situation of the world.

    • Word count: 944
  2. A Detailed analysis of chapter 16 focusing on typical characteristics of the novel in subject matter and treatment.

    One of the most intimate actions between a man and a woman is considered very every-day to Offred. This is because she does not want to take part and therefore detaches herself from reality in order to keep her sanity. She does this by remembering what she had before Gilead came to form, for example things like Luke and her daughter bring her happiness. This remembrance of the past also, I feel, causes her great pain as she considers what she is missing. Also the fact that this is a regular process in her life makes it mundane to her and those involved.

    • Word count: 867
  3. In what ways does the Dystopia presented in "The Handmaid's Tale" serve as a warning?

    Men are categorised according to age and their worthiness as a commander of the elite faith of Jacob. Spinsters, homosexuals and barren women are sent to the colonies to clean up after wars and toxic waste. A handmaid's only purpose is to serve as a surrogate mother for the wives of childless commanders. This novel is set in the science fiction genre but can also be classified under dystopian and feminist literature. Politics is one of Atwood's major concerns, a theme running throughout. She also discusses feminism, her idea of heterosexual relationships, ecology, the concerns she has between the relationship between Canada and the USA.

    • Word count: 863
  4. Examine the significance Religion plays in Gileadian society.

    The commander also includes in the family prayers the same phrase incorporated in the epilogue 'behold my maid Bilhah. She shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her.' The relation between this script and Gileadian society is shockingly similar and is likely to be the main source of rationalization Gilead uses. We see here where the name handmaid comes from as 'Bilhah' is called a 'maid'. Bilhah is Offred; there to be used as a surrogate mother, however Offred's position has been highly imposed upon her. This is a very important phrase as it outlines the basic reforms of Gilead.

    • Word count: 1441
  5. Compare and contrast "The Wars" and "The Handmaid's Tale".

    After being put into compromising positions by the government, soldiers are forced to take matters into their own hands to save themselves. Robert and his fellow soldiers face a chlorine gas attack, and Robert finds out his men do not have gas masks. "Robert turned and shouted hoarsely to the men below him. Put your masks on!" Bates then replies, "We can't sir... They sent us up so quickly that none of us was issued masks." (Findley 123) Because of this failure on the part of the government, Robert is forced to take matters into his own hands, and orders his men to urinate on their handkerchiefs and breathe through the saturated material so they can survive the attack.

    • Word count: 2003
  6. What analysis of the female role does Margaret Atwood offer in ' The Handmaid's Tale'?

    The Marthas wear green dresses, the Wives blue dresses and the handmaids wear red. The handmaids' red, nun-like uniform symbolizes their imprisonment in that role. 'Everything except the wings around my face is red: the colour of blood, which defines us.' The red colour of the handmaids' dresses symbolizes fertility, which is their primary function. Red may also suggest the blood of the menstrual cycle and childbirth. Although the handmaid's role is the most important in this patriarchal society, they are treated as the lowest class. In Gilead, women are treated like objects and all of their rights are taken away from them.

    • Word count: 2846
  7. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood, 'Discuss the Gileadean concept of "Freedom from, freedom to".

    What is most apparent throughout the novel, is that of Margaret Atwood's criticisms of the permissive approach of America and its people, towards the rising levels of corruption, degradation and immorality in modern society. It is this society that the reader can observe as 'freedom to', where a public is free to do as they please, whether it be correct or not, implying that society has reached a peak where it is bordering on spiralling out of control. The society that has implemented the fundamentalist approach of 'freedom from' is the Republic of Gilead, where the limitations on personal freedom and living conditions are a stark contrast to that of the preceding society.

    • Word count: 1357
  8. The Handmaid's Tale - Character Study - Aunt Lydia.

    But could she mean that in the days before Gilead women were given freedom to speak their minds, freedom to express themselves, and so on? At this stage it's unclear. In Chapter Five, Offred recalls Aunt Lydia's quote "To be seen - to be seen - is to be penetrated. What you must be, girls, is impenetrable." This ambiguous statement could mean to be impenetrable from the eyes of strangers, but also to be impenetrable from Gilead's ways and influences. Another of Aunt Lydia's ominous quotes is "Some day, when times improve, no one will have to be an Econowife."

    • Word count: 917
  9. The Handmaid's Tale - Consider the ways in which Margaret Atwood creates interest in the society of Gilead in the opening 5 sections of the novel.

    reader begins to understand the necessity for the members of Gilead to feel as though this control is advantageous rather than restrictive. The constant drumming in of this message to Offred starts from the Aunts, who incidentally carry electric cattle prods, a cruel irony on the word Aunt, considering the usual comforting position of Aunts in our own society. As Offred repeats the words of the Aunts to the reader, one senses a hint of sarcasm and dislike to their over simplification.

    • Word count: 1557
  10. How does Atwood present the Commander in Chapter 15?

    Atwood then uses a rhetorical question 'Who knows what she said to him, over the silver-encrusted dinner table? Or didnt say' to keep the reader interested and get the reader thinking about the relationship between this husband and wife. The Commander is described by Atwood as a 'museum guard' in his black uniform. he is then describes as a 'semi-retired man, genial but wary, killing time. But only at first glance', this is important as Atwood is hinting to the reader that all is not what is seems at 'first glance' not just in this chapter but throughout the novel.

    • Word count: 1019
  11. The Gothic Elements in the HandMaid's Tale.

    Those who do bare children are highly praised and greatly admired. The handmaids must wear the prescribed 'habit', and must not look in the eyes of men. The women are treated as slaves in the new society and are brainwashed to think that this is alright. They are dominated by the men who hold all power. "We aren't allowed to go there except in twos. This is supposed to be for our own protection, though this notion is absurd: we are all protected already. The truth I that she is my spy, and I am hers."

    • Word count: 2095
  12. Comment on the portrayal of the Aunts in 'The Handmaid's Tale', their role in Gilead and the attitude of the narrator towards them.

    The Handmaid's Tale takes this saying into account, and we see that in such a situation, even human nature fails to differ between males and females, thus leading to the same basic problems often bred within a society-greed, jealousy, power, unequal rights and opportunities. The Aunts are used by Atwood to reinforce and highlight these complex issues in Gilead. The most memorable of the Aunts is Aunt Lydia. Her nagging words seem to haunt our narrator, Offred, in all her day-to-day chores, " and many of the memories she holds of the past.

    • Word count: 954
  13. Compare and contrast the narrative structures in 'White Teeth' and 'Beloved' and how the past affects the present.

    The four sections 'Archie 1974, 1945', 'Samad 1984, 1857', 'Irie 1990, 1907' and 'Magid, Millat and Marcus 1992, 1999' provide the reader with a clear cut structure to the novel, with the past and present accurately intertwined. The separate 'books' in the novel help the reader to understand how each character feels about the others, and therefore explores their relationships between time. The main example of this is the fact the Archie and Samad have been best friends since the Second World War.

    • Word count: 2840
  14. Compare the ways in which narrative perspectives vary in 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' and 'Hawksmoor'.

    We also get many of his thoughts in italic, like "(another giddy son of a whore)". The inward perspective that we are given with Dyer also helps us to see aspects of his character like the way he, like Charles in 'The French Lieutenant's Woman', is a rebel in the society with his fascination with science and black magic, for which would both have been shunned because the only truth at the time was Christianity. The purpose of this is to show the past through the eyes of someone who lives in the past, like a diary that follows their reports on events.

    • Word count: 5136
  15. "The Handmaid's Tale" Societies Assignment.

    Also, women aren't allowed to read, like in the previous society, so that they cannot gain any knowledge. Ironically, it seems that both genders were having a better life in the previous society, which is described as chaotic, rather than in Gilead, even-though men have complete control over the law. Atwood writes about the reason of Gilead arising over the old society being an exponential decrease in birth rates. Another notorious difference between Gilead and pre-Gilead is that pre-Gilead tolerated homosexuality up to certain extent, while Gilead's law declares the extermination of homosexual humans.

    • Word count: 797
  16. Explore the issues concerning women and feminism raised in the novel The Handmaid's tale.

    The Gilead regime effectively robs women of their individual identities. Unlike men, women have been facing problems for centuries, and often women experience harassment and discrimination. In today's society, females are trying to combat their afflictions through lawsuits and protest rallies. Though some problems are unavoidable, along with male domination and the laws of society, women have had to contend with other challenging and oppressing situations. Despite this, women in modern society are becoming more powerful. In Gilead, though, women and in particular the Handmaid's, are just mute, replaceable objects.

    • Word count: 1782
  17. What roles do you think Moira plays in the handmaid's tale?

    She rebelled against the system in college she did the opposite of what was expected from her. Even when she was brought into the centre where they train all the handmaids she was wearing jeans, she stood out from the rest and was clearly rebellious. She is a Feminist heroine who all the other handmaids look up to. She is an individual, a leader and a figurehead. She has a dramatic impact on the rest of the handmaids, she influences them giving them hope and inspiration.

    • Word count: 894
  18. Handmaids - Explore the portrayal of Serena Joy and the Commander in the early part of the novel. Also estimate their characters importance in the novel.

    It is a distraction, a place of escape for her from the life that she leads, which is boring and she is not happy with. This is the only freedom she is allowed in the life she leads now, which although it doesn't mean a lot to her, it should be treasured because in Gilead to have freedom like that is unthinkable to most; this portrays Serena Joy to be a women who takes things and her status in the elite, for granted.

    • Word count: 1102
  19. How effective is the opening chapter of The Handmaids Tale?

    The narrator refers to a time gone, where the gymnasium was used for things other than sleeping. "Dances would have been held there" "there was old sex in the room". There is reminiscence of the narrator; they call upon personal observations and experiences from the time gone by "I remember that yearning". Later in the first chapter it becomes clear that the narrator, experienced the "handmaids" experience when she remembers how things were for her, when she slept in the army cots in the gymnasium "as we tried to sleep in the army cots" she uses words such as we had, then, were which all indicate its past tense.

    • Word count: 1464
  20. All around us we see evidence of the way in which belief is institutionalised and abused. Consider Atwood's portrayal of religion in Gilead

    Chapter two offers the reader their first decent example of how religion is used within the society of Gilead. It is in the simple use of a name that Atwood is able to immediately establish a link between her dystopia and the bible. 'Her usual Martha's dress'. In the bible Martha is the sister of Mary who would devote herself to the housework while Mary went to hear Jesus speak. Marthas in 'The Handmaids Tale' are unmarried, infertile women who are expected to perform household duties for the high-ranking members of Gilead. This is the first time the reader is given an example of rank based on religion with Gilead, the reader is made aware of Handmaids and of the Commander earlier in the book but this is the first obvious biblical reference.

    • Word count: 1690
  21. Discuss how aspects of control are explored in

    The strict religious code of Waknuk, and also the abuse of Old Testament values in Gilead, reveals the extended irony throughout both novels, especially "The Handmaids Tale". Religion is one of the most important aspects of control used in both Gilead and Waknuk. The protagonist Offred in "The Handmaids Tale" reveals not only the use, but also the abuse of the Bible in Gilead. Male figures of authority alter Biblical scriptures appropriately for personal benefits and also to increase their level of control: "Blessed are the silent.

    • Word count: 3067
  22. How Effectively Does Atwood Present Offred's Struggle to Establish/Maintain Control Over Her Own Life/Identity

    She can only tell it once she has escaped. We learn at the end, in the Historical notes, that what we have read is a transcript of a jumble of cassette recordings that have been found on an archaeological site. What we have is a later reconstruction of Offred's reconstruction told after her escape, and by the time of out reading, Offred herself has disappeared. Yet story telling is the only possible gesture against the silences of death and of history. The emphasis throughout is on process and reconstruction, where 'truth' is only a matter of the teller's perspective, as Offred often reminds us.

    • Word count: 1184
  23. How is Gilead presented to us over the opening nine chapters of "The Handmaids Tale"?

    This just shows how harsh the rules in Gilead are. Offred is a very strong character, and insists that she will not give in to the society "the door of the room-not my room-I refuse to say my". Her determination is not strong enough though, and although she thinks she has beaten the indoctrination, she has not. She frequently makes references to Aunt Lydia and the sayings that have been drilled into her from the red centre "the republic of Gilead, said Aunt Lydia, knows no bounds. Gilead is within you".

    • Word count: 1393
  24. Discuss the presentation and importance of Moira and the narrator's mother in the novel 'The Handmaid's Tale'

    These extreme feminists believed very strongly that it was men that were the enemy. Moira is presented as a beacon of hope and normality for Offred when she is first is brought into the Rachel and Leah centre she is still wearing jeans and declares 'This is a loony bin' Moira, always known by her own name because she never becomes a Handmaid. Moira as a character can be viewed in two ways, From Offred's point of view she is the embodiment of female heroism, though from the Gileadean authorities' point of view she is a 'loose woman', a criminal

    • Word count: 1181
  25. How successful is The Handmaid's Taleas a piece of science fiction?

    Although the events in the novel are far fetched nothing is so far fetched that it couldn't happen. Long and detailed descriptions of the past and how the new society began give credence to the novels credibility. Like Aldous Huxleys 'Brave New World' of 1932 and George Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' the novel uses the idea of dystopian society. The style of the novel, written as a fictive autobiography, lets the reader into the mind of the central character Offred. The reader only sees the new Gileadian society through the eyes of a Handmaid so although a certain degree of bias is obvious the reader feels that the narrator is being truthful.

    • Word count: 938

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