How effective is the opening chapter of The Handmaids Tale?
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How effective is the opening chapter of The Handmaids Tale? Introduction. This book is a depiction of an anti-utopian future society, along with others like '1984' and 'Brave New World'. It combines a futuristic reality, feminism and politics to create a very detailed novel considering many different aspects of 'Gilead'. 'Offred' is the complex lead character who draws us into the seemingly perfect but corrupt world of Gilead. Her pain is experienced by the readers who long to remember exactly what she has forgotten, and what she wants to find out. The experiences she goes through are strange, sometimes outright bizarre, and her world comes crashing down on us. 'The Handmaids Tale' is very thought-provoking, the future of women and indeed the world lies in the actions of today's society, and Atwood uses her perceptions of the present world to support the background of her novel. Altogether 'The Handmaids Tale offers what all novels should: love, loss, action, comedy (ironic, but appropriate) vision, and plot. It plays with all emotions. Time In The handmaids tale (THT) the use of time is a key feature. Frequently throughout the book we experience time changes, from the present oppressive situation, and to the past of the handmaids, a happier time. In the gymnasium, time is used in reference. The narrator refers to a time gone, where the gymnasium was used for things other than sleeping.
This would tie in perfectly, the regime at the gymnasium, the Aunts patrolling, the barbed wire fencing, the Angles guarding the perimeter, there actions controlled, its very similar to the conditions in prisons, this immediately sets up a scene of people here who don't particularly want to be, a risk of escape from an unpleasant experience. As the setting is rather jail and military like, it is guarded. This is where the Aunts and Angles come into play. The Aunts role is really to make sure the residents do not behave in a manner contradictory to the expected behavior. There is a sense that they are there for guidance and to steer the people in the right direction, but any hint of a kind deed such as this is immediately stamped out by the authoritarian image of the Aunts. They carry cattle prods with them, to sort any one out, they keep the lights low so they can be watched, and talking is forbidden as is touch, two basic human needs. The fact they are called Aunts suggests they would have a position of caring for the residents, a sort of tie with them, this, however, is contradicted by how cold they are, so cold they never could be their relatives. The Angles are another guard at this gym, they are there to prevent escapees, and to maintain order should need be.
The way in which she describes the feelings she felt about her surroundings to conjour up our own thoughts and impressions of the gymnasium and what happened there, she doesn't specifically say people had sex there, but she does say "there was old sex there" much more evoking. The sense of loneliness in the gym, that there was insatiability in the air "how did we learn it? That talent for insatiability, it was in the air, and it was still in the air" it makes the reader think about what the room must have been like. The opening chapter informs the reader of the narrator's past life. The fact they had not always been in this new place of Gilead. You know this because she knew what the gymnasium had been used for, rather than only thinking what is was used as. This tells the reader that the women presently in Gilead, in the rest of the novel once had normal lives, which were not dissimilar to our own. This is one major aspect of the novel. The point to the inkling of once normal lives is Margaret Atwood is attempting to show how this place of Gilead, and the breeding clinic, could happen to any one of us, at any time in our lives, its attempting to instill a fear in our minds that we can never be sure of the future and that our destiny is never completely in our own hands. This narrative sets up a major theme, the tone and this mood of unknown things and fear.
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