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Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of books , Volume 53, Number 17 November 2, 2006 Discuss this interpretation of The Handmaids Tale considering the structure and intention of the novel.

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Introduction

The appendix makes of the novel an astute, provocative social commentary, where its absence would have made the novel an abiding work of art ending with Offred's hopeful voice ("And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light"). JOYCE CAROL OATES, NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS , VOLUME 53, NUMBER 17 � NOVEMBER 2, 2006 Discuss this interpretation of "The Handmaid's Tale" considering the structure and intention of the novel. Word Count: 1498 "'The Handmaids Tale' by Margaret Atwood is a narrative that challenges the absolute authority of Gilead, highlighting the significance of storytelling as an act of resistance against oppression, thereby making a particular kind of individual political statement." (7) The narrative provides an insight of barbarical chauvinism in an injustice system of oppression towards women. It shows great understanding of conveying human experience and social justice through the art of literature. The story foretells of how women in the Republic of Gilead have been somewhat imprisoned and controlled by authority and power. There is no such space of freedom in this country for women. The first person narration communicates significant emotion towards the law and the lives lived by these beleaguered women. This emphasizes on the readers reaction and understanding the author's intention more vividly. ...read more.

Middle

380). He only cares about verifiable facts and says that he "hesitates to use the word document" to refer to Offred's story because it is difficult to authenticate (pg. 373). He belittles Offred for describing her personal story instead of imparting conclusive facts, and sarcastically states that "we must be grateful for any crumbs the Goddess of History has deigned to vouchsafe us"(pg. 386)." (2) "The Handmaid's Tale, was written in 1986 during the rise of the opposition to the feminist movement." (8) Atwood says "I'm an artist ... and in any monolithic regime I would be shot. They always do that to artists. Why? Because the artists are messy. They don't fit. They make squawking noises. They protest. They insist on some kind of standard of humanity which any such regime is going to violate. They will violate it saying that it's for the good of all, or the good of the many, or the better this or better that. And the artists will always protest and they'll always get shot. Or go into exile." "The writer ... retains three attributes that power-mad regimes cannot tolerate: a human imagination, in the many forms it may take, the power to communicate, and hope." ...read more.

Conclusion

many occurrences such as her feminist mother (chapter 7 and 39), Moira story as a rebel (chapter 38), and Serena Joy (chapter 3 and 8). The complexity of transitions that befalls between the past and present creates a profound and unique structuring of the novel. The shift to historical notes works "to convince us of the immediacy of Offred's narrative. It is very likely that we will reject the professor's dismissal of Offred as a figure belonging to the vanished past, and given his own sexist attitudes, we might assume that Offred's story about patriarchal attitudes does not belong exclusively to the past but threatens the future as well." (7) "In the "Historical Notes," Atwood illustrates the downfall of a purely objective perspective and the importance of subjectivity and feelings. Atwood argues that stories are important because they evoke an emotional response that gives us more insight into the complexity of events. We think we can distance ourselves from history because it is in the past, but by bringing events of the past into the future, Atwood shows the importance of recognizing what humans are capable of and judging past and present events from a human perspective. She also demonstrates how stories can be powerful and constructive modes of communicating human history. ...read more.

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