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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.

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Introduction

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 Atwood is clearly an author who enjoys playing with her readers; taunting and teasing, suggesting rather than explaining and describing amazing situations without emotion but in a most moving manner, this is no more true than in "The Handmaid's Tale". During the first five chapters Atwood describes the society of Gilead through her main character Offred. This brief but informative insight contains some incredibly fascinating and provoking passages as Atwood describes a society spine chillingly close to our own but with a terrible control over those it contains. Offred herself is a Handmaid and is therefore expected to conceive with her given Commander. The many other segregated members of the society are also given single names such as the Angels, Guardians and Aunts. By using familiar names Atwood encourages the reader to expect certain actions from these characters, the irony is then expressed by the way in which the society actually expects them to behave. This contrast between the reader's expectation and the actual behaviour raises curiosity into the reasons for their naming and as the novel continues the ...read more.

Middle

That was freedom" / I'm looking down, at the sidewalk, mesmerised by the woman's feet" This however is countered by "We are fascinated, but also repelled. They seem undressed. It has taken so little time to change our minds, about things like this" This clear distinction between how she's expected to feel and how she actually feels becomes distorted as we are unable to define where one starts and the ends. This however is not the first time and this help gain interest into Offred, as one wonders how much she's begging to believe what she's being told. This is one of the defining aspects of the novel during the opening chapters as Offred's characters is never directly revealed to the reader as she sways between survival and ambition. As each chapter unfolds we are offered more into the feelings of Offred into the society of Gilead however it is often difficult to determine what comes from herself and what is simply repeated from the Aunts. The Japanese also act as a way for Atwood to ask of Offred what the reader clearly wants to ask; "Are you happy". ...read more.

Conclusion

A secret diary almost The readers interest is maintained throughout the opening 5 chapters by masking the character of Offred, Giving hints towards a possible escape or ending in another manner and by slowly introducing an unusual society which has clearly developed in America from the present existing population. Offred's character is masked by; Not introducing the reader to her by name, quoting the opinions of others in order to create confusion as to what she truly believes, contrasting her past actions and beliefs with those actions in which she participates in the present and that which she feels now. The hints into escape, of some form, are offered in two main forms; Through her understanding of the actions of others in order to end their own life and her seeming acceptance of the reasoning behind it and her continued rebellious nature in always looking for a way to break and bend rules. The society unfolds in front of the reader in a mixture of normality and genuine discontentment, prompting the question How, When and Why? All this ensures one's desire to discover more into the life of Offred, the society she lives in and her intentions for the future. Tom Smith 2002 ...read more.

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