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

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Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Chapter 1: What do you think of it? Chapter 1 raises lots of questions, which is what I think Atwood intended. It describes the gymnasium where a group of girls are staying. However we do not know if they are voluntarily staying or if they are prisoners. We know that there are at least five girls staying there, but there could be more. The first paragraph creates an eerie atmosphere. It creates images of an old gymnasium, haunted by the music and the girls from dances that had taken place previously. We know that this place is no longer used as a gymnasium; "We slept in what had once been the gymnasium." The paragraph describes the gym, how it looks, smells e.t.c. It talks about the place and how it used to be fun, but that now all the fun has gone. "The floor was of varnished wood, with stripes and circles painted on it for the games that had formerly played there." ...read more.


The fourth paragraph becomes deeper. It expresses what I interpret to be the girl's desperation. "If only they would look. If only we could talk to them. Something could be exchanged, we thought, some deal made, some trade-off, we still had our bodies." This suggests that the girls are so desperate they are wiling to sell their bodies to escape from this place, which also suggests that it is not a very nice place to be and that horrible things could be happening to them. More names are also mentioned, for example the guards and the Angels. We also learn a bit about the hierarchy of the place: who's in charge of who. "No guns though, even they could not be trusted with guns. Guns were for the guards, specially picked from the Angels." This quote reveals to the readership two new names. It also, in one sentence, allows the readership to know how important these people are by whether or not they are allowed to use the guns. ...read more.


In the semi-darkness we could stretch out our arms, when the Aunts weren't looking and touch each others hands across space." Another important factor about this paragraph, which emphasises , even more, the fact that it is personal is that we actually come to discover some of the girl's names; "Alma. Janine. Dolores. Moira. June. As a first chapter, I found it really gripping. It makes you want to read on to find out why these girls are in the situation they are in. You want to have all those questions that had been brought up answered. The first few paragraphs create a very eerie and mysterious mood, which only makes the unknown element of this chapter more effective. I think the way Atwood was able to describe a scene and a situation to us so clearly, without letting us know exactly what the scene or the situation was is so clever and makes the reading so much more exciting. As an opening into the book, I think Atwood has done a really good job. It wasn't too long and it really gave an edge to the book. Emily Steadman English Essay Miss Pollit ...read more.

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