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

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  • Essay length: 785 words
  • Submitted: 17/10/2006
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GCSE Margaret Atwood

The first 200 words of this essay...

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. Atwood also utilises the last section of the text to include a formal history of Gilead, which contrasts sharply Offred's personal history. Pieixoto's discourse often mocks the Handmaid's poor reporting, whereas Offred tells the same story in more personal terms. Therefore, the novel's epilogue supplements the main text; it is

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