Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: English
  • Document length: 1464 words

How effective is the opening chapter of The Handmaids Tale?

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

The above preview is unformatted text

Found what you're looking for?

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

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Over 180,000 student essays
  • Every subject and level covered
  • Thousands of essays marked by teachers

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Margaret Atwood essays

  1. Explore the issues concerning women and feminism raised in The Handmaids Tale

    They have no family or possessions they don't even have their own identity as they are mentioned only with their male owner even the wives are only known through their title as the commander's wife. Rebellion and independence is not in the question, the women should never undermine the men

  2. The Handmaid's Tale. Chapter 10 - Textual Analysis.

    Knowing full well that she is unable to do as she wishes, unable to breathe fresh air, we are made to sympathise with her. Offred informs us that they, her and her fellow handmaids, will soon be 'allowed' to change into their summer dresses.

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

    Whilst on her shopping trip Offred describes her surroundings. Atwood's use of words, such as "barbed wire" "searchlights" and "hooks" illustrate the kind of world Offred is living in; she is constantly surrounded by objects which make it practically impossible for her to resist the rules Gilead have imposed upon her.

  2. Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Chapter 1: What do you think of it?

    It moves on to talk about the present day living conditions for the people there now. "We had flannelette sheets...." It reveals more about what is going on, but gives nothing away and still carries on raising unanswered questions. "......as we tried to sleep, in the army cots that had been set up in rows."

  1. What I have learnt so far about the Regime in 'The Handmaid's Tale'

    'Thinking can hurt your chances and I intend to last', implies that she is stubborn and determined. She also realises that most of the women who she is with are all lucky to be there seeing as not many always survived the prisoned lifestyle as she bitterly quotes, 'for those who still have circumstances'.

  2. Discuss how aspects of control are explored in

    and hostile environment: "Once we had to watch a woman being slowly cut up in pieces, her fingers and breasts snipped off with garden shears, her stomach slit open and her intestines pulled out." Offred's description is very objective and detached; Atwood applies this impersonal approach in order to show

  1. Conformity in Margaret Atwood's Novel: The Handmaid's Tale

    Offred is a clear example of a non-conformist; she desires her old life and she frequently acts out in small rebellious ways in order to demonstrate to the government that she is not their pawn and that they do not control her.

  2. What analysis of the female role does Margaret Atwood offer in ' The Handmaid's ...

    Instead of proclaiming her feelings aloud, Offred suppresses them, because if she did not, she would be executed and shown as an example to other women of her position.

  • Over 180,000 essays
    written by students
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to write
    your own great essays

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.