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GCSE: Margaret Atwood

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  1. Explore the way in which Margaret Atwood presents Moira 'The Handmaid's Tale'. Refer closely to any literary and linguistic approaches where necessary.

    Moira is portrayed as an activist, she does not merely contemplate the possibilities of freedom as Offred does and Offred recognizes this with dissatisfaction as she muses the prospect of what she can do with the fan that she has been given. '"If I were Moira I would know how tot take it apart, reduce it to its cutting edges. I have no screwdriver but if I were Moira I could do it without a screwdriver. I'm not Moira."' This quote clearly outlines the practical nature of Moira juxtapositioned with the more theoretical approach that we would associate with Offred who loathes herself for it.

    • Word count: 1637
  2. What impressions have you formed of the narrator? How has Atwood created these impressions? Give detailed evidence for your answer - 'The Handmaid's Tale'

    All of the way through the book she uses simile's like this to compare normal looking objects or people. 'The smile of blood' is the phrase she uses in chapter six, when she is describing the men, which are hanging on the Wall. The phrase 'The smile of blood' is referring to a stain of blood which has seeped through the white cloth which is covering up the mans face, and she is saying it appears to look like a smile which a child has drawn.

    • Word count: 1202
  3. In what ways is misogynism portrayed in Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale"

    Stripping them of permanent individual names strips them of their individuality, or tries to. Gilead maintains its control over women's bodies by maintaining control over names. As Gilead was formed in response to the crisis caused by dramatically decreased birth-rates, the state's entire structure, with its religious trappings and rigid political hierarchy, is built around a single goal: control of reproduction. "No woman in her right mind, these days, would seek to prevent a birth" The state tackles the problem head-on by assuming complete control of women's bodies through their political overthrow. Women cannot vote, hold property or jobs, read, or do anything else that might allow them to become rebellious or independent and thereby undermine their husbands or the state.

    • Word count: 963
  4. Discuss the ways in which atmosphere and suspense are created in the following extract from “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

    Later Offred says "the light is fading", like stars, light is a symbol of hope and life, and here it is weakening. The diminishing glow from the sun represents Offred's diminishing hope, and, as she at this point believes, her diminishing lifespan. Rain is used on more than one occasion, and is a traditional symbol of bad luck or bad news, as it represents here - "I wonder if it will rain". Air , "Don't let there be air", and angels "a woman made into an angel" are also used within the extract, both of which are cosmic and connected with life.

    • Word count: 960
  5. The Handmaid’s Tale

    Any threats to the society are dealt with by the Armed Forces or local Police Forces. There was little mention of a large armed force within the story line suggesting the takeover and the creation of the new government. The detail of the story suggests that the government was abolished within an extremely short period of time that may have left the remaining to surrender or face certain death. This sudden change brought the country to its knees that resulted in the quick takeover by the new regime.

    • Word count: 900
  6. What do you find interesting about the ways in which Margaret Atwood presents relationships between men and women?

    However, throughout the novel Offred's attitude towards the commander fluctuates, she thinks of him as both a peron for whom she can have affectionate feelings and a figure of authority, of whom she must be wary. The turbulent nature of their realtionship reflects the constant power battle which Atwood suggests is inherrent in heterosexual relationships within sexist cultures. This issue is explicitely raised by Moira when she tells Offred that sex is only an equal "even Stephen" act within homosexual relationships, this may well be a reference and avocation of the infamous feminist slogan, "the personal is political".

    • Word count: 3615
  7. What is the Significance of the Birth Sequence in the Middle of the Novel?

    The harshness in the description of her eating the egg adds to the sense that becoming pregnant is difficult and the process unpleasant. When the "Birthmobile" arrives Offred's excitement is emphasised by the shortening of the phrases and the way the sentences are divided by commas which adds pace to the passage. The phrase "On this day we can do anything we want" immediately followed by "I revise that: within limits" sums up the event where there is a definite break in regime nevertheless there are still an element of rigidity and strict rules to be adhered to.

    • Word count: 793
  8. The Handmaid’s Tale characters are all presented in a way which hides one part of their personnalities

    It is true that his wife does not give him the hapiness a wife should, but in general, the Commander is a pleased man, for he has or obtain everything he wants. Also, let's not forget the fact that he's one of the creators of Gilead, and therefore can have access to anything that's still existing. The power he has is unlimited, and God knows power makes people happy.

    • Word count: 572
  9. In your opinion does Atwood use the first two chapters to provide the reader with a successful and effective beginning?

    The purpose of these handmaids is to be surrogate mothers for baron couples. The narrator and all the other handmaids clearly crave for a sense of freedom, touch and communication with others. We know this because it is mentioned many times that the handmaids are regulated in their daily activities and cannot talk at night, so they learn how to whisper to one another without attracting attention from the patrol guards. The old gym is like a jail as it's surrounded by chain link fences topped with barbed wire. Armed guards specially chosen by the angels patrol the gym at all times.

    • Word count: 817
  10. Conformity in Margaret Atwood's Novel: The Handmaid's Tale

    Handmaid named Offed, longs for the times before the totalitarian government came to power, and does not follow the uniform ways that are being fed to her. Offred exemplifies a non- conformist character, who does not follow the newly standardized ways. This contrasts with the other Handmaids who are too afraid to stray from the expectations of conformity, therefore leading to more conformists than non-conformists. Atwood?s portrayal of these two types of characters is used to make a commentary of the role of women in society and their ability to make a difference.

    • Word count: 1545
  11. The Handmaid's tale - the character of the Commander

    Clearly, he agrees with Gilead?s perspective on women?s roles in society. He also shows Offred off to the other men at Jezebel?s, often treating her more as an object than as a person. Finally, he demonstrates that he has no true concern for Offred?s safety when he continues to ask to meet with her at night although he knows that the previous handmaid, who he met with as well, hung herself after Serena found about her relationship with the Commander because she was so afraid of the possible punishment for her actions.

    • Word count: 719
  12. Handmaid's Tale - the character of Offred.

    For instance, Offred has many moments and flashbacks where she reminisces about her past. This implies that she has regrets and obstacles in her life, just as every human being does. When Offred describes her appearance, albeit briefly, it signifies the insecurities that she keeps bottled up inside ?I am thirty-three years old. I have brown hair. I stand five seven without shoes. I have trouble remembering what I used to look like. I have viable ovaries. I have one more chance? (Atwood, 143). Had she been proud of what she looked like, she most likely would have gone into more detail, but the lack of words plainly states that she thinks nothing special about herself.

    • Word count: 1484

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