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GCSE: Margaret Atwood

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    Discuss the impact of a poem of your choice in which the poet communicates their concerns about a deeper issue in life::'Holiday' by Margaret Atwood

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    The next stanza makes the impact of this primordial scene clearer. She says ''this could be where we end up'' and says that we could end up like our ancient ancestors. The rest of the stanza creates a very austere and depressing image of how humankind may end up- Without trees or rain, without shelter or animals for food. She says that language, will only consist of 2 words ''hunger' and 'none' as humans will be struggling to live and their will be no food left for us.

    • Word count: 911
  2. Handmaid's Tale Epigraphs

    - Jonathan Swift, "A Modest Proposal" * Satiric essay produced in 1729, Swift's satire of how to solve hunger problems in Ireland * Proposes that the raising of children for sale as a food and commodity item = alleviate povery of family * Controlled, sincere tone of unnamed proposer of this scheme parallels earnest fanaticism of Gilead * Biblical event forms justification for 20th century Gilead's Handmaid system --> women who fail to conceive are devalued * Highlights hard-heartedness of the English --> allowed Irish masses to starve by proposing them to eat children * In the desert there is no sign that says, Thou shalt not eat stones.

    • Word count: 979
  3. What light do the Historical Notes shed upon The Handmaid's Tale?

    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 not inconsistent with it. Margaret Atwood suddenly changes the focus of her writing at the end of the novel. The climax built up in section fifteen turns abruptly into the parody of a scholarly symposium.

    • Word count: 785
  4. Discuss the society of Gilead in the sections have read so far The society is based upon different classes, in some form of hierarchy. The society is very patriarchal, yet the society

    The writer gives an image of the control the Aunts have under the girls by the "cattle prods" that they carry. This gives the reader an image that these handmaids are being controlled like livestock. From the opening paragraph it is clear that no verbal communication is allowed between the girls, or to any of the others. This would have probably been stopped as word of mouth may have incited a rebellion. It is evident that the girls have combated this restriction by learning how to lip-read, if only to mime names to one another.

    • Word count: 861
  5. A Comparison of "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood and "Anthem" by Ayn Rand

    An example of this is found when the main character, Equality-1329, re-invents the electric light. He shows his invention to the scientist and although this invention could improve the quality of life of the people it is deemed "evil" because he worked on his project alone. The society in this book is also strict and authoritarian to the point of dictating what your job will be, to whom you will have children with. In 'The Handmaid's Tale', the story takes place sometime in the near future after an environmental catastrophe that makes it impossible for most women to have children.

    • Word count: 843
  6. Early in the novel Atwood presents us with the division between ladies and women

    This is achieved by the mentioning of wire crinolines that were "Like birdcages" the ladies were not allowed to touch or brush up against other men's legs. Grace is now talking about legs in sexual way (also another sign of the times) "the governor's wife never says legs" this comment shows that showing or talking legs is a taboo subject. Grace goes on to comment that the people of lower classes, she uses the news paper as an example were not so sensitive when talking about Nancy's "dead legs sticking out from under the wash tub" The reader finds out

    • Word count: 811
  7. The Handmaid's Tale Freedom To and Freedom From

    This also proves that in some sense Gilead was in danger from its security. From these facts alone it is understandable to see why Gilead chose to enforce a new regime. It may have been thought that in doing so everyone would benefit form a safer society. This much is true. In some sense, women especially, as Aunt Lydia said have been "given freedom from". Freedom from all the bad aspects from the time before. Women no longer had to be afraid for their safety, rape was no more and they were free to walk the streets without being hassled, as they were now protected by the "eyes" that watched over them.

    • Word count: 621
  8. National Identity Crisis in Margaret Atwood's "Through the One-Way Mirror

    After re-examining the essay, the meaning of the symbols and metaphors change. The most important metaphor is that which calls the Canadian people "Porky Pigs" (Atwood 81) who are being mesmerized by the Americans through this "one-way mirror"(81). A powerful image is taken from this, the Canadians are looking at the Americans, and the Americans are looking at themselves. This image implicitly shows how Canadians care more about the issues in the United States than those in their own country.

    • Word count: 705
  9. How does Atwood present the commander in the novel?

    and repression of Gilead and they both wanted to break free but on the surface when they played scrabble with each other they are calm and to a certain extent sophisticated, between the characters there is certain amount of sexual and power play. The commander tells Offred that he believes that the reason why the State of Gilead came into place was because there was 'an inability to feel' and in his words, 'we thought we could we could do better.'

    • Word count: 681
  10. The Handmaid's Tale - short summary

    She spends a large amount of time with the commander although she is well aware of the laws within the community. Being a handmaid Offred is not allowed into the sitting room. One night she wanders down to the sitting room to try something new, she is there to be independent; she likes to be on her own. "I like this. I am doing something, on my own. The active Tense. Tensed. What I would like to steal is a knife from the kitchen, but I'm not ready for that" (Atwood 92).

    • Word count: 799
  11. Explore the ways in which religion is presented and its importance in the Handmaid's tale.

    For example "They can hit us there is scriptural precedent". Atwood clearly displays the theme of fundamentalism to demonstrate the ideologies of those that impose the rules Gilead. Offred's perspective often gives the reader an insight into how one would feel if put in the situation of having the regime of Gilead imposed on them. Offred describes some of her actions when she is alone in her room, "I can spend minutes, tens of minutes running my eyes over the print FAITH". This emphases to the reader the notion of hope and that if Offred is going to escape or survive the regime with her sanity intact she needs to have "faith".

    • Word count: 725
  12. Explore the ways Atwood presents the ideas of freedom and imprisonment in The Handmaids Tale.

    Does Atwood influence our views of the freedom and imprisonment through her use of words? Does Atwood have a feminist agenda and does this affect her views on freedom? How does Atwood portray Freedom and Imprisonment within "The Handmaids Tale"? In Gilead "freedom from" is taken for granted. There is a strong state security force in the shape of the guards and the angels. The handmaids, as potentially young and attractive pairs of women feel safe enough to travel the streets just in pairs with no thought towards danger. As far as we are aware there is no serious crime. There are many small rebellions such as with the doctors, "Lots of women do it".

    • Word count: 857
  13. What is the importance of the Japanese tourists in chapter five of 'The Handmaids Tale'?

    The way in which the character in the novel examines the tourists behaviour reflects this point: 'They look around, bright-eyed, cocking their heads to one side like robins, their very cheerfulness aggressive, and I can't help staring.' This shows that the tourists physical behaviour shares a synchronicity that poses a threat to the Handmaid's, particularly their 'cheerfulness'. The juxtaposition made between cheerful and aggression proposes a despondent jealousy that the tourists have evoked within the Handmaid, it implies that cheerfulness to her is nothing but a distant and an almost untouchable memory.

    • Word count: 866
  14. Themes and issues which take place in The Handmaid's Tale

    Also the women who are called the aunts are described to patrol the corridors with 'electric cattle prods'. This tells us immediately that they handmaids are treated as animals and have a very un-human living. Religion also plays a strong part in The Handmaid's Tale. This is made apparent to the reader when a very rare dialogue appears with two girls about God. 'Praise be, Praise be'. This is repeated very often throughout the conversation. This can tell us that there are very strong views on religion and all the girls must obide by them. This can suggest to us that the society is very totalitarian, in the sense that everyone must obey rules.

    • Word count: 823
  15. How does Margaret Atwood create the sense that Gilead is a dystopia in"The Handmaids Tale"?

    Hardship is one of the main themes in this story and is portrayed sometimes in a subtle way, but sometimes in a very deep way. All these girls have had all the liberties taken away from them they have no freedom. When they go on walks they go on walks being monitored. It is impossible for them to escape because the minute they step out of bounds, without permission from one of their superiors they will be shot, without question.

    • Word count: 824
  16. Remind yourself of the last few paragraphs of Chapter 30 of The Handmaids Tale where Offred says 'Tonight I will say my prayers.' How central is the theme of religion in the novel?

    'Gilead is within you' is 'drummed' into the minds of the Handmaid's to make them believe that their new life is much better than it was in the time before. Gilead was formed in response to the crisis caused by dramatically decreased birthrates, therefore the state's entire structure is built around a single goal which is control of reproduction. The bible is used to justify the changes made because the bible encourages reproduction. The bible is also used to justify the ceremony as it is a biblically sanctioned tradition therefore as it is God's will it is almost impossible to argue against.

    • Word count: 890
  17. In what ways can The Handmaids Tale be considered a feminist novel?

    Maybe it just something to keep the Wives busy, to give them a sense of purpose.. But this concept of women being extensions and property of men is one used in our own society. Though mostly out dated now Mrs Peter Watson is similar to Ofglen. But practically all terms for women are the extension of the term for men Mr/s, fe/male, wo/man. This leads to the idea that Atwood is really just exaggerating the current situation of the world.

    • Word count: 944
  18. A Detailed analysis of chapter 16 focusing on typical characteristics of the novel in subject matter and treatment.

    One of the most intimate actions between a man and a woman is considered very every-day to Offred. This is because she does not want to take part and therefore detaches herself from reality in order to keep her sanity. She does this by remembering what she had before Gilead came to form, for example things like Luke and her daughter bring her happiness. This remembrance of the past also, I feel, causes her great pain as she considers what she is missing. Also the fact that this is a regular process in her life makes it mundane to her and those involved.

    • Word count: 867
  19. In what ways does the Dystopia presented in "The Handmaid's Tale" serve as a warning?

    Men are categorised according to age and their worthiness as a commander of the elite faith of Jacob. Spinsters, homosexuals and barren women are sent to the colonies to clean up after wars and toxic waste. A handmaid's only purpose is to serve as a surrogate mother for the wives of childless commanders. This novel is set in the science fiction genre but can also be classified under dystopian and feminist literature. Politics is one of Atwood's major concerns, a theme running throughout. She also discusses feminism, her idea of heterosexual relationships, ecology, the concerns she has between the relationship between Canada and the USA.

    • Word count: 863
  20. The Handmaid's Tale - Character Study - Aunt Lydia.

    But could she mean that in the days before Gilead women were given freedom to speak their minds, freedom to express themselves, and so on? At this stage it's unclear. In Chapter Five, Offred recalls Aunt Lydia's quote "To be seen - to be seen - is to be penetrated. What you must be, girls, is impenetrable." This ambiguous statement could mean to be impenetrable from the eyes of strangers, but also to be impenetrable from Gilead's ways and influences. Another of Aunt Lydia's ominous quotes is "Some day, when times improve, no one will have to be an Econowife."

    • Word count: 917
  21. Comment on the portrayal of the Aunts in 'The Handmaid's Tale', their role in Gilead and the attitude of the narrator towards them.

    The Handmaid's Tale takes this saying into account, and we see that in such a situation, even human nature fails to differ between males and females, thus leading to the same basic problems often bred within a society-greed, jealousy, power, unequal rights and opportunities. The Aunts are used by Atwood to reinforce and highlight these complex issues in Gilead. The most memorable of the Aunts is Aunt Lydia. Her nagging words seem to haunt our narrator, Offred, in all her day-to-day chores, " and many of the memories she holds of the past.

    • Word count: 954
  22. "The Handmaid's Tale" Societies Assignment.

    Also, women aren't allowed to read, like in the previous society, so that they cannot gain any knowledge. Ironically, it seems that both genders were having a better life in the previous society, which is described as chaotic, rather than in Gilead, even-though men have complete control over the law. Atwood writes about the reason of Gilead arising over the old society being an exponential decrease in birth rates. Another notorious difference between Gilead and pre-Gilead is that pre-Gilead tolerated homosexuality up to certain extent, while Gilead's law declares the extermination of homosexual humans.

    • Word count: 797
  23. What roles do you think Moira plays in the handmaid's tale?

    She rebelled against the system in college she did the opposite of what was expected from her. Even when she was brought into the centre where they train all the handmaids she was wearing jeans, she stood out from the rest and was clearly rebellious. She is a Feminist heroine who all the other handmaids look up to. She is an individual, a leader and a figurehead. She has a dramatic impact on the rest of the handmaids, she influences them giving them hope and inspiration.

    • Word count: 894
  24. How successful is The Handmaid's Taleas a piece of science fiction?

    Although the events in the novel are far fetched nothing is so far fetched that it couldn't happen. Long and detailed descriptions of the past and how the new society began give credence to the novels credibility. Like Aldous Huxleys 'Brave New World' of 1932 and George Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' the novel uses the idea of dystopian society. The style of the novel, written as a fictive autobiography, lets the reader into the mind of the central character Offred. The reader only sees the new Gileadian society through the eyes of a Handmaid so although a certain degree of bias is obvious the reader feels that the narrator is being truthful.

    • Word count: 938
  25. In what ways is misogynism portrayed in Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale"

    Stripping them of permanent individual names strips them of their individuality, or tries to. Gilead maintains its control over women's bodies by maintaining control over names. As Gilead was formed in response to the crisis caused by dramatically decreased birth-rates, the state's entire structure, with its religious trappings and rigid political hierarchy, is built around a single goal: control of reproduction. "No woman in her right mind, these days, would seek to prevent a birth" The state tackles the problem head-on by assuming complete control of women's bodies through their political overthrow. Women cannot vote, hold property or jobs, read, or do anything else that might allow them to become rebellious or independent and thereby undermine their husbands or the state.

    • Word count: 963

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Discuss The Handmaids Tale as a significant dystopian novel. What affect can it have on the reader?

    "My original argument stated that The Handmaid's Tale is a good example of a dystopian novel. I have come to the conclusion that my hypothesis is correct, as The Handmaid's Tale includes all the features of a good dystopian novel. Margaret Atwood does this by telling us the story through the eyes of Offred who is experiencing the life of Gilead. She gives good descriptions of Offred's emotional status and very cleverly interprets an opposite to what Gilead wants, Moira. Offred gives vivid descriptions of what she goes through, this makes the reader feel sympathy for her. Atwood also describes things that are both familiar and unfamiliar to us. This is good as it makes the reader think a little and use some imagination to the unfamiliar aspects of the story, though some of these aspects of the story are quite shocking. It is also good that Atwood makes Offred's character progress throughout, from a weak woman who wants to avoid confrontation and just live by the rules, to a woman who is prepared to take risks for her benefit."

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