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

What light do the Historical Notes shed upon The Handmaid's Tale?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The Historical Notes The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood Question: What light do the Historical Notes shed upon The Handmaid's Tale? Aim to write about 1000 words. Response: The Historical Notes section is Atwood's epilogue to The Handmaid's Tale. Although confusing at first, one quickly notices that this section illuminates many issues in the text. The reader is told that, for the purposes of Atwood's novel, the era of Gilead, and therefore Offred's story, is historical fact. This makes the protagonist's story, in a sense, more real to the responder. This complements the deeply personal nature of Offred's work, and allows the reader to empathise with her. Pieixoto is insensitive to the plight of Offred and trivialises many complex themes. The reader is then forced to confront these matters more rigorously and is thus brought to a clearer understanding of the characterisation. ...read more.

Middle

He complains that there is no name appended to Offred's story, and thus cautions his audience to regard the story less seriously. He grumbles, 'Offred' gives no clue [to finding the identity of the Handmaid], since, like 'Ofglen' and 'Ofwarren,' it was a patronymic, composed of the possessive preposition and the first name of the gentleman in question. Such names were taken...and relinquished1 but he does not understand why it is not possible for Offred to include her original name. In the main text, it is frequently stressed that Gilead is a nation which suppresses all individuality, and it is against the ideology to have a name. One can observe firstly that all physical uniqueness of the Handmaids is removed by the use of uniform. Offred remarks that she sees herself surrounded by a sea of red, "A Sister dipped in blood."2 This is imagery of a nunnery, where all physical uniqueness is disposed of by the habit, in The Handmaid's Tale, of red colour. ...read more.

Conclusion

This name has an aura around it, like an amulet, some charm that's survived from an unimaginably distant past...the name floats there behind my eyes, not quite within reach, shining in the dark.5 This refusal to conform to Gilead's practices is itself a recognition of Offred's individuality. Despite her submission into various demeaning physical acts such as the Ceremony, her thought still betrays her unorthodoxy. After Professor Pieixoto's refusal, or perhaps inability, to acknowledge Offred's identity without a proper name, the reader is forced to contemplate more of these issues, and is brought to a clearer understanding of them. Pieixoto's indifference to these matters only makes Offred's vivid portrait of life in Gileadean society more evocative, especially on the issue of identity. 1 p. 318 2 p. 19 3 p. 38 4 p. 33 5 p. 94 ?? ?? ?? ?? Page 1 of 2 ...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. The Handmaids tale by Atwood and Hard Times by Dickens - Both authors are ...

    sun" whereas Bitzer, the caricature aimed at typifying 'the system', is described as "so light-eyed and light-haired that the self-same rays appeared to draw out of him what little colour he ever possessed." Dickens uses this stark contrast to show the extreme effect the system of education and depletion of innocence has on the children of the novel.

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

    Atwood's style of language is also very significant in this scenario. The doctor, in his speech, is more relaxed and colloquial "it'd only take a minute, honey" because his position in society gives him freedom. Offred on the other hand is terrified; "help me".

  1. The Handmaid tale essay

    Therefore, such characters with power seem to get what they want and they misuse females for their sexual pleasures. Hence, females have always been victims of these sexual predations.

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

    Not that your father wasn't a nice guy and all, but he wasn't up to fatherhood. Not that I expected it of him. Just do the job then you can bugger off, I said, I make a decent salary, I can afford day-care.

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

    the historical male dominance and perspective in academic research who also completely miss the point, like Pieixto with Offred's narrative. I believe that the readers who have just finished agonising with Offred through her tormented times to suddenly come across the Historical Notes will find themselves offended and shocked, as

  2. What specific aspects of society do you think Atwood comments on in The Handmaid's ...

    "The Handmaid's Tale shares with many futuristic dystopias, certainly '1984', an interesting mode whereby our time in retrospect is heavy with nostalgia" Bernard Richards (3). 'The Handmaid's Tale' belongs to this genre of anti-utopian (dystopian) science fiction. It is set in the late twentieth century when democratic institutions have been

  1. Consider the way in which Atwood presents Professor Piexto's speech in the Historical Notes. ...

    The notes tell the reader the story of why Gilead implemented the Handmaids in the first place, with the widespread reproduction problems caused by the,' AIDS epidemic,' and leakages from, 'chemical warfare stocks.' This is important to the novel as a whole as it outlines the reasons Gilead has for

  2. 'Discuss Atwood's presentation of Gilead in the first seventy-six pages of the novel'.

    The first quotation, the story of Rachel from the Bible, is about the use of a surrogate mother by Rachel in order to have children, an idea on which this novel is based. The quotation provides an indication towards the Biblical prevalence over sexuality adopted by Gilead and also suggests

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