• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Handmaid's Tale - The narrator says of her tale, 'I'm sorry it's like fragments, like a body caught in crossfire and pulled apart by force'. How appropriate a description of the structure of the novel do you consider this?

Extracts from this document...


AS English Literature Assignment 2. The Handmaid's Tale The narrator says of her tale, 'I'm sorry it's like fragments, like a body caught in crossfire and pulled apart by force'. How appropriate a description of the structure of the novel do you consider this? Offred narrates her story in a rather disjointed, fragmented style. Some parts of it are flashbacks of her life before the rise of Gilead. Some parts are vignettes from her training as a Handmaid at the Red Centre, in which she and her friend Moira are subjected to the cruelty of the Aunts. Other descriptions are described as present tense. Offred appears in many ways as a sympathetic narrator, an every woman, who, in the pre-Gilead world of the contemporary United States, was an ordinary, sensual woman, with a college degree, a husband, a daughter and a job in a library. She lost all those blessings as a result of the coup, and is now in a terrible, terrifying bind, a Handmaid in a powerful and repressive dystopia. ...read more.


Furthermore the fragmented structure of the novel is also reflected strongly by the use of atypical language techniques throughout the novel. Atwood unusually uses the present tense to represent the present period of time e.g. when describing their attempted escape where she says, 'That is a reconstruction too' (23:150), and this provides a stronger contrast against the past periods. Offred throughout the novel, and despite being the protagonist, seems somewhat detached from the story she narrates, 'One detaches oneself. One narrates' (16:106), and on many occasions expresses her discontentment at relating the story, 'I am too tired to go on with this story' (22:138). This suggests that she finds it extremely difficult to tell her story even though it may be therapeutic for her to be relating it to others. When lapses occur she finds solace in the past memories she has stored, 'Here is a different story, a better one'. She refers to her past repeatedly and many occasions stresses her great need for Luke, 'I want him so badly' (17:108), even justifying her feelings or reactions to Nick as a result of her loss of her husband. ...read more.


I believe this is absolutely true in that Offred being able to relate her story to somebody else is what keeps her sane. It gives her some form of escape where she does not have to be someone she isn't, yet she can choose to be exactly what she wants; it's her story, her choices. According to Amin Malik1 what makes Atwood's book such a moving tale is 'it's clever technique in presenting the heroine initially as a vice like sleepwalker conceiving disjointed perceptions of its surroundings, as well as flashing reminiscences about a bygone life'. As the scenes gather more details and momentum, Offred's narrative transfigures into a full roundedness that parallels her maturing comprehension of what is happening around her. Atwood skilfully manipulates the time sequence between Offred's past (pre-Gilead) and the present: those shifting reminiscences offer glimpses of a life, though not ideal, still filled with energy, creativity, humaneness and a sense of selfhood, a life that sharply contrasts with the alienation, slavery and suffering under totalitarianism. 1. Amin Malik, Margaret Atwood's 'The Handmaid's Tale and the Dystopian Tradition, 1987 2. Barbara Hill Rigney- Atwood Critic Published by Macmillan Press 1987. Dec 2003 Miss. Slocombe Nasima Begum 12B Pg 1 of 3 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Margaret Atwood section.

Found what you're looking for?

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

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Margaret Atwood essays

  1. Handmaid's Tale Epigraphs

    of the land for healthy reproduction - Proper nourishment for mothers = controlled diet; no cigarettes or alcohol - Offred gets fed milk, meat, grain, chicken, strawberries and radish to improve health - Unlike morals from "A Modest Proposal", there are too many offspring whereas in Gilead there is a

  2. What do you find interesting about the ways in which Margaret Atwood presents relationships ...

    Explore Atwood's presentation of . in the Handmaid's Tale "The Handmaid's Tale" contains many strong female characters, of whom Serena Joy is one. Atwood portrays Serena sometimes with hostility and at other times sympathetically. Offred remembers that Serena Joy used to be a child gospel star, from which she

  1. Compare and contrast the narrative structures in 'White Teeth' and 'Beloved' and how the ...

    is symbolized by Archie's marriage to Clara and the repressive force of culture in Hindu society is seen in Alsana's forced marriage to Samad.

  2. The Handmaid tale essay

    Furthermore, the men in Gilead are sexist; they enforced strict laws on the women of Gilead so they wouldn't be able to commit sinful acts like rape. Even though these laws were there to protect women, through the character of the Commander and the doctor the reader sees their sufferings

  1. Offred's Narrative - What is the purpose and function of the 'Historical Notes' and ...

    At the beginning of his speech we learn it was a man called Professor Wade who gave the title of Offred's story 'The Handmaid's Tale' partly in homage to the great Geoffrey Chaucer who had wrote the Canterbury tales between 1380 and 1400.

  2. Compare and contrast their representation of the different social and cultural forces which contribute ...

    individualism, similar to Atwood who, following a binary reading would highlight the difference between totalitarianism and liberty. This dehumanisation and therefore the repression of individuality is shown in both novels through an ISA; the choice of character names represents such a method.

  1. Compare the ways in which narrative perspectives vary in 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' and ...

    It also makes the theme clearer for the reader to understand as the characters are trying to achieve the similar kind of freedoms that we have today. This personal connection with the reader is stretched to the 'asides' where Fowles talks directly to the reader to explain some of the

  2. Handmaid's Tale - the character of Offred.

    example escaping from the Red Centre ?She had both hands on the lid when she felt something hard and sharp possible metallic jab into her ribs from behind. Don?t move, said Moira, or I?ll stick it all the way in, I know where, I?ll puncture your lung?, ?I couldn?t believe how easy it was to get out of the Center.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work